If you are ambitious and have a keen sense of justice, the legal profession is for you. Legal advocates enjoy opportunities that no other professionals do. They can do anything from helping the disadvantaged to developing corporate policies. Therefore, legal jobs are highly coveted. Your CV must be top-notch to capture the attention of legal recruiters.
Whether you are a Lawyer or a Paralegal, your profession carries an enormous degree of responsibility, together with the prerequisite to deal with complex situations. As you’re no doubt aware, writing CVs for the legal profession requires a solid command of the English language, coupled with knowledge of what is expected in legal recruitment within a highly-competitive and challenging sector.
Know your audience
Avoid sending out CVs en masse. Consider what type of company is best for you. Evaluate your education, background, experience, and lifestyle. If you would prefer a nine-to-five job rather than heavy hours, consider working in-house instead of in private practice. If you want hands-on experience, consider working for a small firm. If a high salary is what drives you, focus on mid-size to large firms.
Network with people at the firms that interest you
In the legal world, who you know is indeed more important than what you know. If you know lawyers through family or friends, find a way to contact them and seek advice.
Write a carefully tailored cover letter
Many employers will not consider a CV without a cover letter. Craft a cover letter that emphasises your education and skills, and how they would benefit the firm. Mention the firm by name. If possible, direct the cover letter to a specific person. Try to find someone who shares something in common with you. If you are aware of newsworthy items about the firm, reference them.
Use high quality paper and envelopes
Investing in a high-quality paper can help your legal CV stand out from the crowd. This is especially true in the legal profession, in which presentation is everything.
Put your best food forward
What makes you stand out from the crowd? Were you Order of the Coif? Have you worked for a prestigious firm? Are you an accomplished rainmaker? Whatever it is that make you stand out, ensure that it is near the top of your CV.
Add a personal touch
Firms will want to know if you are a good fit. To reassure them that you are, list some of your interests and hobbies. Perhaps you are an avid golfer or tennis player, or enjoy the outdoors. If others at the firm share the same interests, this will help you get your foot in the door.
Highlight transferable skills
Objective decision making and strong communication skills are essential for the legal profession. In your CV it is imperative that you are able to write and speak clearly, confidently and without ambiguity. In addition, you should show experience of building strong client and colleague relationships – demonstrating your proven interpersonal skills.
As with any other CV, you should spend time creating a document that sets a positive, progressive tone and is explicitly informative and relevant to your area of expertise. In addition, you’ll want to ensure you effectively demonstrate the areas you specialise in, together with evidence of client interaction, commercial awareness and knowledge of new legislative policies (where applicable).
As a recent Law graduate, should I follow your guide on writing a graduate CV or would the rules be different for a law job?
Good question! With a graduate CV, the aim is to showcase your enthusiasm and availability, together with details of your qualifications. When writing a CV for a career in law, rather than concentrating so much on the future, more focus should be placed on actual experience and the skills / knowledge you already have.
I am considering changing careers, and participating in further education to seek a career as a Solicitor, is there anything I should be aware of?
The initial stage of becoming a Solicitor will involve the completion of an undergraduate law degree, followed by a 1-year vocational course. Be aware that many law firms will place emphasis upon proven academic achievements, coupled with relevant work experience and extracurricular activities.
In an application form, I have been asked why I want to be a Solicitor. Can you help?
This is a question that we can’t answer for you as it needs to be personal. However, be sure to showcase your strengths relating to the position you’re applying for. Also, why not speak to fellow professionals to see what attracted them to the role – maybe your reasons are mutual?
What can I expect to do if I choose a career in the legal profession?
Legal Assistant / Paralegal: you’ll probably be responsible for a personal caseload of prosecution and enforcement projects, together with the preparation of cases for litigation. You may also be responsible for advising on evidence, drafting charges, attending Court to undertake advocacy, offering support to senior staff in all aspects of their caseload and general client care.
Solicitor: as a Solicitor, you’ll be required to offer expert legal advice to your clients and act on their behalf in a variety of legal matters – dependent on your chosen area of expertise.
Image 1: “Coroners courtroom” ©Surrey County Council’s News’s Photostream – https://flic.kr/p/r9Yu5j