How to write a legal CV
by Heat Recruitment
Want to learn how to write a legal CV? A killer CV is a crucial part of your application for any legal role
Typically, a job application is a package of two key elements – your CV and cover letter. So, while your cover letter will introduce what you’ve got to offer, your CV is there to provide the factual information to evidence your skills and experience. It should be concise, neatly presented and most importantly, showcasing your potential as a legal professional.
Determining the right length
While some industries prefer short and snappy CVs, the legal industry aren’t simply looking for a one-page brief summary. If you’re applying for a trainee position, there’s no need for more than two pages. However, an experienced solicitor may fill between three to six pages.
In more senior roles, the hiring manager may want to see case studies. It’s a good idea to keep these separate to the main body of your CV – ideally at the end of your document – so that the employer has the option to read more information.
Finessing the format
Ensure your name and contact details are clearly displayed at the top of your CV, so the hiring manager can identify you easily. While other professions often prefer candidates to list skills at the top of their CV, on a legal CV it’s best to include this at the end, highlighting any practical experience with software packages such as Microsoft Office.
Unless you’re applying for a trainee contract, your work experience will make up the main body of your CV, so stick with a simple, consistent format. Your experience should be listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent position. Include your job title, the company name and how long you worked for them. When describing your responsibilities, focus on the final outcomes you’ve achieved as well as the process.
Emphasising your education
In the legal sector, more emphasis is placed on your academic achievements than in other industries. So, even if you’re applying for a senior role, it’s a good idea to showcase your qualifications at the top of your CV.
A barrister will need to make sure their BPTC results are clearly visible, whereas solicitors should showcase their GDL, LPC and PSC, as well as their acceptance on to the SRA’s Roll of Solicitors. Alternatively, you may have completed CILEx Level 3 and 6 Diplomas. Don’t forget to include your GCSE, A-Level and university grades too.
Once you’ve learnt how to write a legal CV with the desired finesse, there’s just one thing left to do. Check, check and check again for spelling and grammatical errors. As well as checking it yourself, ask a trusted friend or family member to double-check it for you – and that includes any legal jargon and company names too. Ultimately, you should be presenting the best version of yourself, so don’t let a simple misspelling destroy your chances.
Need further help producing a killer CV? Check out our helpful template