Writing a CV or resume as a paralegal can be challenging. You need to showcase your skills, experience, and qualifications in a way that catches the attention of potential employers. This article is designed to guide you through the process of creating an effective paralegal CV or resume. We’ll cover the essential elements to include, tips for highlighting your legal expertise, and how to format your information for clarity and impact. Additionally, we’ll provide real-life examples to help you understand how these tips can be applied in practice. Whether you’re a seasoned paralegal or just starting out, this guide will help you create a CV or resume that stands
- 1 Read The Job Description / Advert
- 2 Research The Company
- 3 Find A Good CV Template
- 4 Write 2 Or 3 Bullet Points As A ‘Professional Summary’
- 5 Detail Your Employment History
- 6 Detail Your Education History
- 7 CV Structure
- 8 WHAT NOT TO DO
- 9 Paralegal CV Tips – Recap
- 10 Paralegal CV Sample
Read The Job Description / Advert
The first step is, of course, to read the job description. We need to know what the firm is looking for so that we can properly highlight these characteristics in our CV. So read back over the job description and try to pinpoint the important points. A lot of times a firm will call things “required”; if you see this, you need to make sure you include that in your CV. Similarly, if certain things are repeated throughout the advert, this indicates they are of high importance, so we will want to make sure our CV shows that as well.
When performing this analysis, take care to copy the ‘exact’ words and phrases that are being used by the hiring manager. We will want to pepper these into our CV later.
Paralegal Job Description Example
Paralegal Position Available
We are seeking a dedicated and skilled Paralegal to join our dynamic legal team. This role is ideal for individuals who are passionate about the legal field and are looking to advance their career in a supportive and challenging environment.
- Conduct thorough legal research and analysis on various cases, including corporate law, intellectual property, and litigation, using databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.
- Assist in the preparation and filing of legal documents, ensuring accuracy and compliance with legal standards and deadlines.
- Manage and organize case files, maintaining a high level of confidentiality and efficiency.
- Support attorneys in trial preparation, including assembling trial binders and organizing evidence.
- Draft correspondence and legal documents such as briefs, pleadings, and contracts under the supervision of an attorney.
- Liaise with clients, witnesses, and other legal professionals, maintaining professional communication and facilitating information flow.
- Stay updated with current laws, regulations, and legal articles relevant to our practice areas.
- A Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies, Paralegal Studies, or a related field.
- Paralegal certification is highly preferred.
- Proven experience as a paralegal, with a minimum of 2 years in a law firm or corporate legal department.
- Strong understanding of legal terminology, procedures, and documentation.
- Excellent research, writing, and analytical skills.
- Proficiency in legal software and Microsoft Office Suite.
- Ability to work independently and as part of a team, demonstrating initiative and problem-solving skills.
- Strong organizational skills with the ability to manage multiple tasks and deadlines effectively.
What We Offer:
- A collaborative and supportive work environment.
- Opportunities for professional development and career advancement.
- Competitive compensation package, commensurate with experience.
- Comprehensive benefits package, including health, dental, and vision insurance.
This position offers a unique opportunity for a motivated Paralegal to grow professionally while contributing to our firm’s success. If you are committed to excellence and ready to take on challenging and rewarding legal work, we encourage you to apply.
Equal Opportunity Employer: We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our firm. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.
Note: This job description is intended to convey information essential to understanding the scope of the job and the general nature and level of work performed by job holders within this job. However, this job description is not intended to be an exhaustive list of qualifications, skills, efforts, duties, responsibilities, or working conditions associated with the position.
Research The Company
Time to put on your detective hat and do some research on your target company. Look at their website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. You are looking for any piece of intel that will give you the leg up.
- Find out about recent work/projects they have undertaken or will be embarking on (highlight your experience in these areas on your CV)
- Find out what software/processes they use and make sure you include your proficiency in them in your CV
- Learn what interview questions you might expect should you make it that far
See if you know anyone who works there and/or connect (LinkedIn) with people ahead of the interview. A little nepotism could never hurt, and you might be able to glean more information about the role/hiring process in the meantime.
Find A Good CV Template
When selecting a CV template, it’s essential to opt for a simple design and structure. Not only are straightforward layouts more compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), but they also make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to quickly identify and understand key details. A clutter-free and organized CV ensures that your most important information stands out, facilitating a smoother review process for potential employers.
Write 2 Or 3 Bullet Points As A ‘Professional Summary’
A handy approach is to craft three sentences: the first highlighting your qualifications and experience, the second showcasing your biggest professional achievement, and the third detailing your most recent experience.
Paralegal Professional Summary Example
- With over 7 years of experience in the legal field, specializing in corporate law and intellectual property, hold a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and a Paralegal Certification. Proficient in conducting legal research using Westlaw and LexisNexis, and experienced in drafting and reviewing legal documents with a keen eye for detail.
- Most notable achievement includes leading a document review project for a high-profile intellectual property case, utilizing Relativity e-discovery software. This strategic approach resulted in a 30% reduction in litigation time and significant cost savings for the firm.
- Recently managed complex case preparations for a series of corporate litigation cases, overseeing a team of junior paralegals. Streamlined workflow and improved team efficiency by implementing advanced legal software solutions, including CaseMap and TimeMap, which enhanced productivity by 40%.
Detail Your Employment History
Begin by listing your employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role. This allows potential employers to see your recent experience upfront, which holds greater value. Keep in mind that brevity is key.
As you go further back in time, reduce the level of detail to ensure your CV doesn’t exceed two pages. Employers are less likely to read lengthy CVs.
When writing about your responsibilities on your CV, focus on how you’ve excelled in those roles, especially as a Paralegal. Instead of simply stating “Handled legal document preparation,” you could say, “Efficiently prepared and organized over 200 legal documents for high-stakes litigation cases, contributing to a 20% increase in successful case outcomes.” This way, you’re not just mentioning your task, but also demonstrating your impact and expertise in handling significant legal challenges. It shows you’re not only capable of document preparation but also that your work directly contributes to the success of important cases.
Detail Your Education History
Keep your CV concise, aiming for a two-page limit. The education section can often be streamlined.
Highlight the most relevant qualifications. For instance, if you have a degree, your A-levels become less significant. Similarly, if you’re in the U.S., having an MBA overshadows your high school GPA.
Unless an older educational milestone is crucial for the job or highly pertinent, focus on showcasing your Bachelor’s degree, post-graduate studies, or professional certifications. If you lack these, mention your latest qualifications. Remember, having a Master’s suggests you’ve finished school, so no need to state the obvious. Only include your educational background if it’s pertinent to the job.
Tactically structure your CV to the ‘most wanted’ attributes of the job description. For example, if the job description values “qualified”, then place your qualifications first; if they want someone with RECENT experience, put your last job up top. If they want multiple years of experience, highlight your tenure.
We always recommend that you have a Professional Summary up top (after your name/contact info), as it will be the first thing that anyone reads. As discussed earlier, this should be tailored towards the job advert and showcase your experience and skills in what the employer is looking for.
A fairly typical structure would go:
- Name and contact info
- Professional Summary
- Current (or most recent employment)
- Education & Professional Qualifications
- Employment History
WHAT NOT TO DO
Now that we’ve discussed what you should be including in your CV, let’s look at some things that you should avoid doing.
- Do not include personal history or likes. Employers are not going to care about your hobbies, so unless you have some inside information that the hiring manager only hires people who play a particular sport, for example, then leave your extracurricular activities off your CV. This does not extend to things like volunteer or charity work. Definitely include that if you have the space.
- Do not list your skillset and the tools/applications you have experience with. It takes up valuable space and is often obvious (Skilled in Excel…?). Instead, include these in your achievements section (Example: “Used Asana to manage and coordinate tasks for a remote team of 25 members”).
- Do not include references or “references available on request”. If employers want a reference, they will ask you for them; otherwise, this is just wasted space on your CV.
- Do not include a photo of yourself unless specifically asked. In many countries, including the UK and US, you should not include a photo of yourself on your CV/resume. Companies don’t want you to do it, as it opens them up to liability, and there is absolutely nothing for you to gain by doing so – plus, you are making it easier for firms to discriminate against you, either implicitly or explicitly.
- Do not use any fancy graphic or artistic CV format. Most CVs come in a standard format, allowing Application Tracking Software, recruiters and hiring managers to easily pick out the key pieces of information they need quickly based on their experience. If you throw them a CV in an artistic format, they are more likely to get annoyed and throw your application away. This is not a situation where standing out is good. You want your skills/experience to be noted, not your CV format.
- Do not include your previous salaries. This will severely impact your negotiation abilities down the line.
Paralegal CV Tips – Recap
Let’s recap what we’ve discussed so far:
Understand the Role and Tailor Your CV
🎯 Every paralegal role can be different. Make sure to tailor your CV to match the specific requirements of the job you’re applying for. Highlight relevant skills and experiences that align with the job description.
Highlight Legal Skills and Knowledge
⚖️ Focus on showcasing your legal skills. Include your proficiency in legal research, document preparation, case management, and understanding of legal terminology. Mention any legal software you’re skilled in, like LexisNexis or Westlaw.
Showcase Your Achievements
🌟 Instead of just listing job duties, highlight your achievements. For example, if you helped reduce case preparation time, mention how much time was saved and the impact it had.
Education and Certifications
📚 Clearly list your educational background, including any degrees and certifications relevant to the paralegal field. If you have a paralegal certificate or any specialized training, make sure it’s prominently featured.
💼 Detail your professional experience in a clear and concise manner. Start with your most recent job and work backwards. For each role, include your title, the name of the firm or organization, and the dates of employment.
Volunteer Work and Internships
🤝 If you have any volunteer experience or internships related to law, include them. They can demonstrate your commitment and interest in the legal field, especially if you’re new to the profession.
Keep It Concise and Error-Free
✂️ Your CV should be clear, concise, and free of any spelling or grammatical errors. Aim for a maximum of two pages. Proofread it multiple times or have someone else review it.
📄 Use a clean, professional format. Avoid overly decorative fonts or layouts. Make sure your CV is easy to read and looks professional at a glance.
Paralegal CV Sample
Below is an example CV from someone with a number of years experience in the field. For an editable .DOCX version, click here.