A Template for your Legal CV
The following is how we think your CV should be set out. However there isn’t really a right or wrong way to do it. Just set all of the key information out and don’t overlap with your cover letter too much.
That’s a key point actually – your CV gives the employer a quick overview of your suitability and your cover letter goes into more detail. The cover letter is more for persuading the recruiters. So don’t try and do too much in your CV. Don’t tell them your life story! Just give them a brief overview of your achievements.
Optional: [Date of birth & gender]
[Your University / educational institution]. List your most recent education first, mention all education back to secondary school.
[Grade achieved at institution]
Briefly mention some of the key details from your time at the educational institution. Mention any societies you were a part of, and any special grades you got (e.g. you could have got a first in a certain module). If you received an award or held a high up position in a society you can mention this here too. This section may even be done with bullet points so it’s easy to read. For example:
University of Fakebridge
September 2010 – July 2011
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
- Commendation grade achieved
- Member of the law society
- Participated in the mooting team
- Obtained 73% in the administrative law exam
[Place of work] As above list your latest place of work first.
Next you should briefly talk about what this job involved. What were your duties? Which tasks did you perform? What sort of skills were needed? You can also mention any other points you think are beneficial to your application. An example of this could be meeting / working with someone well known in law, receiving recognition for work done, or being involved in a high profile case. Even an employee of the month award is noteworthy. Try something like this:
September 2011 – August 2012
Working at the Law Centre I advised members of the public on a variety of matters such as debt, benefits, employment and consumer rights. This usually involves listening to the clients’ problems, researching their problem, and clearly explaining to them what they should do next. Sometimes it is necessary to take further action for the client such as phoning debtors, writing letters for them, or directly representing them. I had one client personally write to me thanking me for the work I had done.
Mention everything which could be beneficial to prospective employers. Mention your skill and then briefly explain how you gained the skill in question. It could be from an official course, personal experience or hobby. Don’t just list something like “Competent with computers” – that statement and no description sounds like the exact sort of thing someone who isn’t competent with computers would say. This section can be done very badly, and its importance is often underestimated. Here is an example of a good skill which is properly explained; keep the explanation short & sweet. Even consider putting down skills which aren’t directly related to law if you’re stuck. For example you could play an instrument such as the guitar. You can also use it to show a positive personality trait like determination explaining how all those hours of practising scales and chords have paid off.
Conversational knowledge of Mandarin Chinese
During my year abroad in China during 2011 I picked up the basics of speaking Chinese. I am currently taking online lessons in order to both further my speaking ability and learn how to read written Chinese.
In this section you can put everything which you enjoy and isn’t directly relevant to law. It’s important to many firms that you have interests outside law and appear to be a well rounded person. Some of these interests can also show further skills. For example if you are the member of a sports team this shows that you have the ability to work within a team. The interests should be set out in a similar way to the skills – with a description. For example:
Go karting club member
June 2007 – present
I have been a member of the Manchester go karting club for 5 years. Over that time I have participated in many races and have even had the chance to participate in a tournament in Germany. I won 2 races in total and finished 5th overall.
Make sure your CV is grammatically correct and well formatted. Making it easy to read will make the recruiters job much easier. This can only benefit you. Ideally try to keep your CV under two pages. You don’t need to set your CV out like we have above – it’s just to give you a general idea.