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If you’re looking to join the UK legal services market – one of the biggest in the world – and need to put together an outstanding law CV, let us share some best practices.
The legal services sector contributes a whopping £60 billion to the UK economy, reports The Law Society, supporting 1.1% of the overall labour force. That’s over half a million people!
Law continues to be a popular undergraduate degree, with 31,585 students studying it in England and Wales during the academic year 2020-21.
According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority there were 219,424 solicitors employed as of October 2022, as quoted by The Lawyer Portal.
Of course, competition is high for the best roles, but as you’d expect, you’re likely to be well rewarded financially if you can make it. Solicitors featured in our recent list of the highest paying jobs in the UK.
Whether you’d like to be a lawyer, a paralegal, or involved with the profession in any other capacity, it all starts with a well-written law CV. Here are our top tips:
For more general CV advice, here’s how to write a CV – our comprehensive guide.
Know your audience – keep the layout and formatting simple and effective. This is not an industry where a creative CV that breaks the conventional rules will do you many favours!
Adopt a professional tone for your law CV and include all the other CV essentials.
Mention your education and qualifications, plus any key skills you can bring to the table. Some of your skills will be more relevant for the role than others, so tailor them to the job description.
Take great care not to use clichés or generalisations on your law CV. In the next section, we’ll explore how to describe your successes so far in specific detail.
Writing about the impact you have made since beginning your legal career can sometimes be tricky, particularly if you’ve only just left university.
Think about any experiences you can include that others are less likely to have – whether at a law firm, in pro bono work, during your studies or even from an extracurricular activity!
Include any relevant and impressive facts, figures or statistics you can to demonstrate your impact.
These numbers will have more impact in the right context. If you’re struggling to explain your best ones, use the STAR method:
If you need to use lots of words to explain your STAR example, go into more detail as part of your cover letter.
We always recommend providing one when you apply for a role, even if you’re not required to. It helps you express your motivation for the opportunity and gives you another chance to stand out from rival applicants – here are the basics of a cover letter.
You’ve written all about your hard work, achievements and passion for the profession. Don’t undo all that great effort by making a rookie error.
It goes without saying, but you need exceptional attention to detail for a legal career.
Your CV should be a reflection of that, so check it comprehensively to spot any mistakes and fix them. Here are 10 mistakes that make your CV look unprofessional.
And remember – customise every CV to each firm you’re applying to, for example by using their job advert, website and any other relevant information you can get your hands on.
With this information, you may want to tailor your personal statement or emphasise certain aspects of your work to date.
Taking everything into account, here’s a legal CV example to help frame your thinking:
[Address] – [Phone number] – [Email address]
Use 6-7 lines to promote who you are, what you can offer and your career aims. Be concise and personalise it – show how you stand out and what makes you unique. For example:
Commercially-savvy and multilingual solicitor specialising in intellectual property law with 5 years’ client-facing experience. Proven track record of winning new work and cutting costs…
If your skill section looks strong, include it here – otherwise, put it after your work history section. Relate your skillset to the job description and use bullet points – for example:
List your previous roles or companies worked at in reverse chronological order, starting with your current or most recent position – also include the dates.
Then, add bullet points, to describe your most relevant achievements or responsibilities, e.g.:
[Role, company] [Dates]
Qualifications and Education
Include relevant details – such as your Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), Legal Practice Course (LPC) or undergraduate degree:
This section is optional if you’re short of space on your legal CV. Any interests you include should ideally strengthen your application in a relevant way – as an example:
University Law Society: I regularly took part in student-led moots to practise my argument forming and public speaking skills
References available on request
We hope this guide has given you plenty of ideas for putting together your next great law CV!
Think about any unique skills you have, or what makes you an impressive candidate, and build your CV around these points.