Tips for Drafting a Legal CV

In our line of work, we come across a lot of legal CVs. No matter how accomplished and brilliant a lawyer may be, sometimes they have missed the mark with their CV! We thought these tips might be useful for anyone out there considering a career move – remember, the first step is getting your CV up to scratch. You want your CV to present you in the best light possible and be so convincing that the hiring manager can’t help but pick up the phone and schedule your interview.

Design

Use a design that is professional and streamlined without being too busy. You can find great templates on Microsoft Word and Google Docs that do most of the design work for you.

Name & Contact Details

Make sure your contact details are up to date! This is a surprisingly common mistake.

Summary or Areas of Expertise

Depending on the type of job you want, include a short summary at the start of your CV. It can be either a few sentences about your experience and what kind of work you are looking for, or just a list of your areas of expertise if you are looking for a very specific role, like a Corporate/M&A Senior Associate.

Education & Qualifications

Set out the date (month and year) of your admission to the bar, as well as the location. Use the proper terminology, i.e. Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

For example:

Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand (Admitted December 2013)

State your degrees and date of qualification.

For example:

Victoria University of Wellington / Bachelor of Laws – LLB (Honours) / 2009 – 2013

Employment History

List your work history, including a summary of your practice areas, types of matters, and industries. Keep it concise and to-the-point. You can save your comprehensive transaction list until the end of the document.

Try to avoid writing your CV as if it were a job description of your various roles. Focus on accomplishments more than responsibilities.

When listing out your dates of employment, make sure to include the month as well as the year.

If you have gaps where you travelled or were on leave for any reason, include this. Otherwise, it might appear as if you are hiding aspects of your employment history instead of highlighting how well-rounded you are!

At the end of this section, point to your transaction list; for example:

See Schedule for examples of specific transactions. 

Volunteer Work, Memberships, and/or Other Experience

Include here any volunteer work you have done, any of your memberships, professional or otherwise, and any other experience that you would like to highlight (for example, if you are a champion chess player). This information can show that you have interests outside of work as well as valuable soft skills and competencies.

Awards

List any academic or professional awards here.

Schedule – Transaction List

On a separate page to your CV, set out a list of the noteworthy transactions you have worked on in your career. Categorise them in headings according to the specific area of legal expertise, and underneath the heading, give a bullet-pointed list of examples of the type of work. You can talk about the legal issue, the documents drafted, the advice given and the type of advice (commercial, risk, strategic, etc.), the client, and your involvement.

For example:

CORPORATE/COMMERCIAL

Corporate governance

  • Advising Corporation X on directors’ duties ;
  • Drafting Board resolutions for Company Y; and
  • Etc.

Mergers & acquisitions

  • Coordinated due diligence review for Company Z’s acquisition of Company A;
  • Negotiated share sale and purchase agreements for Company B’s acquisition of Company C; and
  • Etc.

Review

It goes without saying that you want to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your CV. Read it over several times, and get others to review it as well.

We can help!

Clarity Consulting Group has assisted many senior top-tier lawyers and C-suite executives with their CVs, and we are continuing to offer our complimentary services to lawyers looking for some advice. Get in touch with Managing Director Frieda Crawford at frieda@claritynz.com for a confidential chat!