How to Write an Attorney Resume: A Step by Step Guide

Make sure you read this step-by-step guide for how to write an attorney resume if you're looking for tips on how to make your resume stand out!

How to Write an Attorney Resume: A Step by Step Guide
Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
6 min read

It’s the classic problem: You need a job. You need experience. You need a resume. And, you don't know how to write one. The solution? A step-by-step guide on how to write an attorney resume.

person walking holding brown leather bag
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

You may be thinking that writing a resume is as simple as listing work experience and college degrees on a document and sending it off to your dream employer. But, resumes are more than just a list of past jobs and academic achievement. They show potential employers who you are before they ever meet you in person. So, if you want to get noticed by law firms, here's how to write an attorney resume that will help you land your next job!

What Is an Attorney Resume?

An attorney resume is a one-page document that contains all of your most relevant professional experience. It highlights your most important qualifications and accomplishments, and helps you stand out from the competition.

How to Write a Professional Resume

First, you should understand the purpose of a resume. The primary function of an attorney resume is to list your qualifications and work experience so that employers can quickly determine whether or not you are qualified for their opening. You should choose only the most relevant experience to highlight on your resume so it will be clear why you would be a good fit for the company.

selective focus photography of three books beside opened notebook
Photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk on Unsplash

The goal is to stand out from other applicants. To do that, you'll need to present your strengths clearly and concisely. Your attorney resume should include all relevant information about your education, professional background, skills, experience, and job interests. These factors will allow employers to easily see what makes you different than other candidates.

How to Compose a Great Summary

The summary is the first thing that employers see on your resume, and it can really make or break your chances of getting an interview. It must be carefully composed with a clear sentence about what you want to do and why you're interested in this particular job.

book lot on black wooden shelf
Photo by Giammarco on Unsplash

For example: "I am a UVA Law graduate with five years of experience in transactional law and one year of experience at a small firm. I am seeking an in-house position in which my skills can be used to their fullest extent."

Select the Right Format for your Attorney Resume

If you want to get hired, you need a resume that will get you noticed. That's where the format of your attorney resume comes in.

The traditional way to present a resume is with a chronological list of jobs and education in reverse chronological order, but this can be tricky for an attorney. Potential employers might not know what your experience is and how it relates to their job opening. Plus, if they're looking for someone with a particular skill set, like bankruptcy law or litigation, the information on your traditional resume might not be relevant to them at all.

books in glass bookcase
Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

Instead of using this format, it's better to organize your resume by type of experience. Create sections such as "Litigation," "Contingency Law," or "Bankruptcy." This way, potential employers will know what types of law you specialize in and what types of cases you've handled before.

Attorney Resume Objective or Resume Summary

The first thing on your resume you should include is a resume objective or a summary of qualifications. This is a section on your resume that sums up what you bring to the table.

This section should not be more than a few sentences. If someone looks at your resume and doesn't know what you seek in employment, this part of your resume will tell them.

woman signing on white printer paper beside woman about to touch the documents
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

For example, if you're an attorney looking for a litigation position, then the objective would read something like this: "Seeking a litigation position with a firm that values professionalism and hard work."

Despite the name, this section does not need to be labeled as either an objective or summary of qualifications. It can be named anything you want it to be, so long as it accurately reflects what you want to do with your career.

Don't forget to mention your Education

Education is essential to an attorney's resume. So, don't forget to include your schools, their location, the degrees you received, and the dates you attended.

How to List your Skills as Attorney

One of the most important aspects of your resume is listing your skills, especially for an attorney. Listing these skills will allow you to show off everything that you have to offer potential employers. It's also a great way to show that you are qualified for the position.

hardbound books
Photo by Dmitrij Paskevic on Unsplash

The best way to list your skills as an attorney is by including them under the "Skills" section of your resume, usually at the top. You'll want to include all relevant skills in this section, including any legal-related responsibilities or tasks you've completed at work. For example, if you're applying for a law firm job, it would be extremely beneficial to include any experience with litigation or trial work - even if it was unrelated to the firm you're looking at.

Don't Forget your Cover Letter as Attorney

The first important aspect of your resume to keep in mind is the cover letter. Your cover letter should be addressed to a specific person, but not necessarily the person who has advertised the open position. The cover letter should be a short introduction of you as a potential candidate and what your qualifications for the open position are. In order to write an attorney resume that will work for you, don't forget that cover letters are vitally important.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don't use a one-size-fits-all resume. Tailor your resume to the position you're applying for. For example, if you want to be an IP lawyer, include a section on intellectual property experience and a section on litigation experience.
  2. Include a summary statement at the top of your resume. This should be a sentence or two that tells the employer what it is that you do and highlights any particular skills you have that are relevant to this position.
  3. Include an objective statement at the top of your resume as well as at the end of each job description section. This should be a sentence or two about what you hope to achieve from this particular position and why they should hire you for it.
  4. Use keywords throughout your resume, including in your objective statement and summary statements, but don't overdo it! You want to make sure that the key words are there without sounding like you're trying too hard or repeating yourself too much.