Resume Preparation

In the span of 30 seconds, the reader of your resume needs to get a sense of your background, main selling points and suitability for the position. You want to jump out as a bright, well educated lawyer with great experience. If the reader sees this, he or she will proceed to look for evidence that you have gained substantive experience in your purported area of expertise. We therefore recommend that you have a one- to two-page resume and a one- to three-page supporting transaction summary.

Jonathan Marsden’s article on resume writing for the American Corporate Counsel Association should give you some ideas. See below for some general pointers.

Resume Layout

Put your education section up top, noting your year of call, universities attended and any academic awards or scholarships. Have a separate “Legal Employment Experience” section – in which you include the name of the organizations you have worked for, positions held and dates of employment (indicating both month and year). Include a short paragraph describing the organization and a short paragraph describing your role and responsibilities. You may include some highlights in this section e.g. particularly impressive deals you have worked on. Refer to the attached transaction summary for a more detailed analysis of your practice. Avoid personal commentary such as “dedicated, hard-working, etc.,” but don’t be afraid to highlight accomplishments you are proud of. Include sections such as “Previous Work Experience,” “Seminars/Publications,” “Community Involvement” and “Personal Interests.” Unless requested up front, references aren’t necessary to include on your resume; “References provided upon request” is sufficient.

Transaction Summary

In your transaction summary/synopsis of legal experience, use a heading for each area of expertise you have developed as a lawyer. Under each heading include deals/files you have worked on (either by name or, if confidential, as a generic description) and describe your role on the file. The transaction summary can be anywhere from one to three pages long, depending on your seniority.

Further Guidelines

Keep the layout simple. Multiple colours, fancy binders or typeface experimentation is not going to get you the job. How you construct your resume reflects how you may present legal analysis. Don’t hide facts employers want to know. For example, some applicants omit year of graduation or call in an effort to hide their seniority. Omissions are frustrating and leave the reader to assume the worst.