Resume Template: Attorney

by | Resume Templates, Resume Templates: Law

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You’ve gone through law school, passed your bar exams, and now it’s time to write your attorney resume.

Maybe you’ve already found work and now you’re ready for something new, or perhaps you are fresh out of school.

Regardless of where you are in your career, this is a competitive field – saturated with an abundance of hard-working and intelligent candidates.

So how do you land your next dream job and beat out the competition?

The first step in grabbing the attention of any law firm or company starts with writing the perfect resume.

And, because you’ve likely been busy keeping up with your own work as an attorney, it is understandable that you might need some brushing up on your resume writing skills.

While the competition might be fierce, we’ll help you make a resume that is even fiercer.

If you’re ready, let’s get started!

Summary

  1. Resume Template
  2. Formatting
  3. Writing Your Resume Summary
  4. Areas of Expertise
  5. Writing Your Work Experience
  6. Writing Your Education Section
  7. Additional Sections
  8. Resume Points to Remember
  9. Resume “Don’ts” to Remember
  10. Some Helpful Tools

Let’s begin with a sample attorney resume to demonstrate how all the resume pieces fit together. Then we will break each section down to really drill into how to write the best attorney resume you possibly can.

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Attorney Resume (Text Version)

Contact Info:

Vera Levine
[email protected]
1 (802) 555-5500
Burlington, VT 05401

Summary Statement:

Attorney: Attorney with 10+ years of experience in both family and state law. Demonstratable expertise in litigation, legal research, plea negotiation, and client advising. Strong passion to successfully represent clients, with a proven track record of client satisfaction of over 96%.

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • Litigation
  • SAS Case Management
  • Research
  • Analytical Abilities
  • Initiative
  • Confidentiality
  • Memorandum
  • Legal Research
  • Client Advisory
  • Plea Negotiation
  • Collaboration
  • Time Management
  • Family Law

Professional Experience:

State of Vermont | Burlington, VT
Assistant Attorney General to the Department for Children and Families | June 2016 – Present

  • Litigate termination of parental rights and other juvenile court hearings
  • Handled 20-30 daily active cases working in conjunction with 2 additional staff attorneys
  • Represent clients in administrative hearings at Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center
  • Earned a 97% satisfaction rating from clients on exit surveys

State of Vermont | Rutland, VT
Deputy State’s Attorney | Aug 2013 – May 2016

  • Ensured accuracy of over 35 case documents and carried them through trial and appeal
  • Drafted contracts and filled over 250 legal documents include appeals and lawsuits
  • Maintained effective working relationships with the public and partner organizations
  • Supervised and trained 4 interns on timely and accurate completion of tasks

Law Offices of Paul Mack | Burlington, VT
Associate Attorney | Jan 2010 – June 2013

  • Performed respectful and confidential client intake
  • Accurate timekeeping and case management
  • Drafted civil complaints, complex pleadings, demand letters, motions, and reviewed pertinent records
  • Corresponded respectfully and clearly with clients, courts, experts, opposing counsel, the opposing party, and other services

Education/Certifications

Juris Doctorate Degree

Vermont Law School
Class of 2009
Vermont Bar Passed 2010

Formatting

As a lawyer, you likely understand that both order and structure are essential components of any document.

No matter how compelling the facts are, if you can’t lay the information out in a way that is easy to follow, even the best cases can fall flat.

Formatting is an often overlooked, yet pertinent, element of resume writing that can make or break any candidate’s chance for an interview.

The goal of a resume should always be to present the most imperative and impressive aspects of who you are as an attorney.

A well-formatted attorney resume should draw attention to the factors that are most compelling and vital to landing a job.

To start, you should always select a legible and straightforward font to avoid distracting readers from the facts.

Split up your lines of text and sections with adequate spacing to help guide your reader’s eyes down the page.

Your attorney resume should always appear professional and neat – and the first step to creating that aesthetic is to pay attention to how your words visually appear on the page.

When it comes to structure, you should always list the most important information first.

Hiring managers only spend around 6 seconds reviewing the resumes they receive – so, this is not a time to save the best for last.

Following reverse chronological order typically allows for your most recent and relevant accomplishments to come first.

The most simple details can make all the difference, and these formatting basics are a great start to writing a resume that will grab attention for all the right reasons.

Start With Your Resume Summary

The first section of a resume is essential not only for grabbing your reader’s attention, but also for piquing their interest in continuing to read further.

When you’re writing your resume summary, keep in mind that you want to give just enough information so that they know you are a viable candidate and then leave them wanting to know more.

Consider including a few specific details concerning your experience level and areas of expertise and then add in a few descriptive notes to paint an impressive picture of yourself.

If you are struggling to decide what details to include in this section, try to start by simply asking yourself how you would describe a great attorney and then narrow down the details to what you feel resonates with you the most.

Yes!

Attorney with 10+ years of experience in both family and state law. Demonstrable expertise in litigation, legal research, plea negotiation, and client advising. Strong passion for successfully representing clients, with a proven track record of client satisfaction of over 96%.

No!

Attorney with expertise in all aspects of law from casework to trial. Strong passion to represent clients and create a positive outcome in and out of court.

The first example lends specific details regarding the candidate’s experience and track record, as well as some descriptive details regarding their work ethic.

The second example lends little to no detail regarding the candidate’s work ethic and experience, leaving their summary feeling blank and underwhelming.

PRO TIP: If you are struggling to decide what details to include in your resume summary, try skipping this section and come back to it. Writing your work history – and other sections regarding your skills and qualifications – first can help you decipher what details are most important to include early on.

Key Accomplishments/ Skills & Qualifications

While your resume summary serves as a sort of brief introduction, it lacks certain information pertaining to job requirements.

When looking to hire an attorney, firms and companies will want to know if the candidate they are reading about meets specific job requirements they need to fill.

Whether their requirements come down to the type of law experience they are looking for in a candidate or other skills required in their office, they want to know fairly quickly if you match up.

Including a section that lists your various skills and qualifications in regard to working as an attorney is essential in grabbing a hiring manager’s attention.

When deciding what details to include in this section, consider that you should incorporate both hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills are often referred to as technical skills because they cover the kinds of skills that need to be taught and practiced, and are generally job-specific.

Soft skills are more widely known as people skills because they tend to deal with how personable you are to work with, in regards to your personality traits and work ethic.

While being an attorney demands a decent amount of hard skills due to the intense and specific knowledge needed in the field of law, you should also include some soft skills on your resume.

Soft skills are essential to have in regard to working hard and “playing nice.”

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • Litigation
  • SAS Case Management
  • Research
  • Analytical Abilities
  • Initiative
  • Confidentiality
  • Memorandum
  • Legal Research
  • Client Advisory
  • Plea Negotiation
  • Collaboration
  • Time Management
  • Family Law

PRO TIP: When writing your list of skills and qualifications for your attorney resume, consider referencing a job posting whenever possible. Job postings will often state what specific skills they are looking for a candidate to possess and what qualifications they are requiring. If you want to land an interview, make sure that your list matches up with what they are looking for.

Writing Your Work Experience

When writing your work experience section, it is still important to keep your eye on the prize.

In other words, even though you are discussing previous jobs, you should continue to promote yourself for the job you are applying to.

Start by selecting previous positions that specifically relate to the job you are after.

If you don’t have any previous work as an attorney, do your best to include jobs that are related to legal work in some capacity.

It is typically best to list your work in reverse chronological order because hiring managers want to see your most applicable work, as well as your most recent.

Once you have selected the best work experience to discuss in your attorney resume, you will need to break each job down into three to five bullet point descriptions.

Each bullet point your write should go over a job responsibility or accomplishment that shows off how capable you are at handling the new job you are after.

While you don’t want to get too wordy as you write, do your best to include specific details to quantify and qualify your work.

Yes!

State of Vermont | Burlington, VT | Assistant Attorney General to the Department for Children and Families | June 2016 – Present

  • Litigate termination of parental rights and other juvenile court hearings
  • Handle 20-30 daily active cases working in conjunction with 2 additional staff attorneys
  • Represent clients in administrative hearings at Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center
  • Earned a 97% satisfaction rating from clients on exit surveys

No!

State of Vermont | Burlington, VT | Assistant Attorney General to the Department for Children and Families | June 2016 – Present

  • Litigate termination of parental rights
  • Handle active cases
  • Represent clients
  • Earned good ratings from clients

The first example lists specific details to describe the candidate’s exact areas of expertise and the results their efforts created for clients and their firm.

The second example lists basic information regarding the tasks the candidate handled but lacks pertinent information needed to create an impactful description of who they are as an attorney.

PRO TIP: When writing your job descriptions, make sure that each bullet point begins with a power word (action verb). Power words should only be used once in a resume so that your skills and abilities always come across strong and unique.

(If you lack work experience, see below for a helpful section.)

What are bots?

When writing your attorney resume it is always important to take into account who is going to be reviewing it.

Just like presenting your case to a judge or jury, having insight into who is going to be receiving your information can give you an edge in having the outcome you seek.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), or bots, are an increasingly common way that various industries are now sorting through job applicants.

Bots search resumes for specific keywords to decide whether or not a candidate fits their mold.

When a bot decides that a resume has decent potential, it will flag the resume to be further reviewed by a hiring manager.

Some resume experts have started recommending to candidates that they should draft their job descriptions in paragraphs instead of bullet points.

Keep in mind, however, that hiring managers tend to prefer reading resumes with more bullet points, and that it is still possible to impress a bot as long as you are intentional about your word choice.

At Big Interview, we believe it is best practice to stick with bullet points to impress human reviewers.

Standard bullet point format:

State of Vermont | Rutland, VT | Deputy State’s Attorney | Aug 2013 – May 2016

  • Ensured accuracy of over 35 case documents and carried them through trial and appeal
  • Drafted contracts and filed over 250 legal documents including appeals and lawsuits
  • Maintained effective working relationships with the public and partner organizations
  • Supervised and trained 4 interns on timely and accurate completion of tasks

Paragraph format:

State of Vermont | Rutland, VT | Deputy State’s Attorney | Aug 2013 – May 2016

Ensured accuracy of over 35 case documents and carried them through trial and appeal. Drafted contracts and filed over 250 legal documents including appeals and lawsuits. Maintained effective working relationships with the public and partner organizations. Supervised and trained 4 interns on timely and accurate completion of tasks.

Paragraph format w/ bullet points:

State of Vermont | Rutland, VT | Deputy State’s Attorney | Aug 2013 – May 2016

Ensured accuracy of over 35 case documents and carried them through trial and appeal. Drafted contracts and filed over 250 legal documents including appeals and lawsuits. Maintained effective working relationships with the public and partner organizations. Supervised and trained 4 interns on timely and accurate completion of tasks.

  • 96% satisfaction rating
  • Carried 30 cases to trial

Writing Your Education Section

When writing your education section, it is necessary to include all of your degrees that apply to the position you seek.

List your degrees in order of most to least relevant and impressive (e.g., Master’s, bachelor’s, associates, etc.).

Each degree you list should include the full title of the degree, the year you graduated, and the school you attended.

You can also include any relevant licenses and certifications in this section or create a section directly preceding or following your education section to go over those details.

Example:

Education/Certifications

Juris Doctorate Degree
Vermont Law School
Class of 2009
Vermont Bar Passed 2010

Member in Good Standing of the State Bar of Vermont

Possible Sections to Include

If you have additional accomplishments to include on your attorney resume that don’t fit within the previously covered sections, you can incorporate them within a new section.

Some additional sections to consider including are:

  • Awards and honors
  • Publications
  • Noteworthy Projects
  • Social Media Influence
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Volunteer Work

What if You Don’t Have Experience?

Writing a resume can be a daunting task, especially when you are fresh out of school and lack any prior experience.

For candidates new to the workforce, it is crucial to focus on the areas of experience that you do have – and that starts with your education.

List your education section directly below your resume summary and expand upon it wherever possible.

Include details concerning academic and scholarly achievements.

Your class standings, your GPA, impressive honors/awards, or bar exam scores can be great details to include that might give you an extra edge.

Outside of your education section, always look to any internships or volunteer work to include – remember that experience is still experience even if it isn’t paid.

Stay confident and persistent about the right opportunity and you will be off to a great start.

Resume Points to Remember

Review your work

Make sure that you aren’t spending so much time on a rough draft of your resume that you cheap out on your revisions. Take the time to thoroughly review your work and even read it aloud to yourself to get a feel for how it sounds.

Give specifics

Don’t be general and skip over the meaty details. Hiring managers need information that is going to make you stand out and separate you from the pack. Quantifying and qualifying your job descriptions whenever possible, is always a good idea.

Keep it simple

While it might be tempting to include flashy formats, fonts, and graphics on your resume to make it more eye-catching, keep in mind that your resume should catch attention with the facts and not the flash. Keep things straight forward and easy to follow.

Try to Avoid

Long resumes

Keep things to the point and don’t include more details than are necessary. Never hand in a resume that is more than one page in length. A two-page resume, no matter how impressive the candidate, is not a good idea.

Repetition

Don’t repeat the same details or power words when writing your resume. It might be tempting to state important information twice; however, you shouldn’t waste any space repeating yourself. Keep things fresh and exciting.

Lack of compatibility

Make sure that you are tailoring your resume to fit the specifications of the job you are applying to. It might be tempting to write a resume for yourself that you feel covers the basics; however, adjusting your resume to meet the specifics of each job you are after is always essential to be a compatible candidate.

(See below for a helpful table of some suggested power words.)

Helpful Tools:

Attorney Resume Power Words

  • Administered
  • Founded
  • Adept
  • Formulated
  • Built
  • Implemented
  • Created
  • Improved
  • Consolidated
  • Initiated
  • Coordinated
  • Launched
  • Developed
  • Pioneered
  • Designed
  • Organized

Attorney Resume Skills List

Hard Skills Soft Skills
SAS Case Management Collaboration
Client Advisory Analytical
Family Law Critical Thinker
Memorandum Time Management
Plea Negotiation Verbal and Written Communication