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June 27 2022

Top CV tips for aspiring lawyers

Legal Career Tips

Sally-Ann O'Kane

Sally-Ann O'Kane

CV Tips Blog Banner - CV with a plant and coffee

At Flex Legal, we truly understand how competitive and daunting the legal industry can be for aspiring lawyers, and how draining it is sending out hundreds of applications and CV’s a week, only to receive piles of rejections in return. This is especially the case when you’re not quite sure what you’re doing wrong or what you can do to improve.

Honing your CV to ensure that you stand out from the crowd (for all the right reasons) is a great way to help turn those rejections into letters of success, and propel your legal career forward, no matter what stage you’re at.

Here are some of our top tips for making your CV the best it can be, so you can start your journey to becoming a lawyer today!

How should a typical CV be structured?

For individuals early on in their careers, such as law graduates, young professionals, or career changers who are keen to move into the legal profession, it’s inevitable that you’ll have minimal or no legal experience to add to your CV.

If this is you, then we’d recommend trying out the following structure, but don’t forget to make it personal to you!

  • Personal details: at the very top of your CV, it’s important to include your name, email address and location (just the general city/town/area will do). Top tip: make sure that your email address is simple and professional - we’re sorry to say that it’s time to say goodbye to xxprincesspeach67xx@hotmail.com.
  • Summary section: for the summary section, all you need to do is draft a little 1-3 line paragraph all about you. Remember to include your current situation, any work experience and your legal passions/interests - what inspired you to become a lawyer? Do you have any particular areas of law which excite you? All of this is valuable information to help the reader understand who you are and what drives you.
  • Education: include all of your education history, from the highest level you’ve achieved, to your GCSEs. We’d also recommend highlighting any specific modules which are relevant to the role you’re applying for.
  • Your experience: in this section, make sure to include your full work history, both legal and non-legal. Address the responsibilities given to you throughout your experiences, plus any notable achievements. Always remember to explain what skills you’ve learned and developed, rather than just listing what the tasks entailed. A great way to do this is by writing in an active style and using ‘power’ words such as: negotiated, implemented, planned, accomplished, co-ordinated, communicated and delivered.
  • Your personal interests: similar to the summary section, it’s important to include a short sentence or 2-3 bullet points at the end of your CV about what you like to do in your spare time. This helps your prospective employer to get a feel for who you are as a person outside of work, and ultimately whether you’ll be a good culture-fit for their company.

Whilst following this suggested format, always make sure to put your own spin on your CV and remember to include any personal achievements, such as further qualifications, language skills, or any extra-curricular activities you’ve taken part in.

How should you format your CV?

It’s important that your CV is as easy to read as possible, with a good balance between white space and text, plus clear, simple headings noted down for each section.

Within each section, keep your sentences as short and concise as possible, ideally sticking to 2-3 bullet-points for each place of work.

Also try to use no more than two colours throughout, preferably limited to black or blue. One should be used to highlight your headings and the second colour should be used for your examples. You might think making a colourful, aesthetically-pleasing CV is the way to go, but it can look quite messy and make it difficult for the recruiter to read (which you definitely don’t want).

Similarly, in general it’s always best to stick to one font type. As mentioned, inconsistency stands out (for the wrong reasons), so try to stick to standard, common fonts such as Arial or Calibri (Comic Sans is sadly a no-go and should be avoided at all costs).

Lastly, if nothing else, keep your CV to a maximum of two A4 pages and no more!

How to tailor your CV appropriately

The best way to tailor your CV is by analysing the description of the role you are applying for:

  • Within the job description, look for the key responsibilities of the role, along with the qualifications, knowledge, experience, and other requirements needed.

  • Make sure to check for any key words or phrases mentioned throughout the advert, and reflect these within your CV by using specific examples from your own experience.

  • On top of going over the job description, take the time to complete some additional research of the organisation, including their mission and values, which you can then embed into your CV to show how passionate you are about the role and the wider company.

  • Continue to amend and adapt your CV for each different role you apply for.

Once you’ve gone through all of the above steps and feel happy with how your CV is looking, our final tip is to give it one last read through and, if possible, ask someone else to give it a thorough proof for any spelling or grammar errors (especially if you’ve listed ‘attention to detail’ as one of your key skills).

Finally, now you’re ready to save your CV in PDF format (to avoid any weird formatting issues) and you’ll be on your way to securing the legal career of your dreams, potentially through us at Flex Legal!

We hope you’ve found this handy guide useful, and don’t forget to check out the additional resources below for some more valuable legal career tips.

Additional Resources: