Seven ways to optimise your CV for jobs in law

To make an impact and be noticed in the world of law, you have to write your CV so it stands out. But how do you do that for the legal sector? Well, try these tips.
Man using laptop to search and apply for jobs

1. Transferable skills 

You are potentially a great law candidate, even if you’re fresh out of university with little experience in the legal sector.

The trick is to display your transferable skills. These are core abilities necessary for every role, and they could put you ahead of your competition.

Highlight these traits in your CV to prove that you have what it takes to succeed in a professional environment.

  • communication: demonstrate your excellent communication skills by showing that you are articulate, making sure sentences are to the point and giving concrete examples
  • problem-solving: much of your career may involve finding and devising solutions, and so you must demonstrate these skills with specific examples from university, jobs or your personal life
  • research: highlight your research skills by including projects or academic papers that you worked on throughout your studies. If there are several you can reference, work out which are most relevant to the employer and showcase your value 
  • teamwork: the ability to work collaboratively is a highly sought-after skill. Reference this with evidence of use  perhaps mentioning any group projects or seminars. Be specific about your contribution, not your teams’ efforts

2. Tailor your CV

Your CV should fulfil the requirements listed in the job advert accurately, so treat each application as if it is the only one you have applied for.

Tailoring your CV shows that you match the recruiting requirements and demonstrates why you are the ideal candidate.

Also, pull out keywords and phrases from the advert and pepper them throughout your CV.

For example, keywords in a property paralegal job spec may include “property”, “legal”, “law”, “paralegal”, “adaptability”, “written and verbal communication”, “organisational skills”, “well-presented” and “articulate”. 

By referencing your abilities in the recruiter’s own language, you make it clear you’re a match.

3. Make your CV stand out from the crowd

Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and ask yourself: what’s in it for them?

If you have experience or skills that set you apart from the rest of the competition and will add value, then shout about it:

  • speak a second language? This shows you’re capable of learning a new skill
  • volunteer in your spare time? You think about more than yourself, are capable of handling substantial responsibility and are more than just the sum total of your worK
  • unusual hobby? You have more going on in your life than just work, and that makes you an interesting person to spend time with

Highlight what impact your work, either in the legal sector or voluntary, has had on the outcome of any given situation.

Recruiters want to see what benefits you could bring to the company, so make sure you let them know just what value you can add.

Finally, make sure that your CV is 100% accurate.

Crime prevention service Cifas reported in 2022 that one in five people in the UK have or know someone who has lied about a qualification in their CV.

Lying on your CV can result in you being dismissed from a job, so it is essential that you are honest about your experience and qualifications.

4. Adjust your language

Your CV should be professional, so remove colloquial language. A career in law is a serious undertaking, and due diligence should be demonstrated at all times.

You want your CV to speak to legal professionals, so it has to speak their language. Review the job spec and the employer’s website to check for tone, style and jargon.

By doing this, you will strike the right note with potential employers.

It will also show that you’re serious about a career in law and that you have taken the time to do your research and learn what legal professionals want to read about.

5. Keep your CV short

A survey by job recruiter found that 91% of recruiters believed two pages to be the perfect length for a CV.

The average recruiter can find themselves sifting through hundreds of CVs a day when there’s a job opening.

So, ask yourself: would you want to read a lengthy document after a day of reading through countless job applications?

A long CV can sometimes be crucial in determining whether or not you’ll get a job, and an overly long one can often do more harm than good.

So, identify how you can articulate your skills and suitability for the job in a concise manner. And if you can fit your entire CV on just one page, do it!

6. Proofread your CV

This may seem obvious, but bear with us. Spelling mistakes are sadly all too common in CVs, and they can severely undermine your efforts when applying for a job in law.

In an analysis of nearly 270,000 CVs uploaded in March 2023, the job advertising company Adzuna found that almost 40% of CVs contained five or more errors in them.

Be sure to proofread your CV before sending it out, and don’t be afraid to ask a friend or colleague to provide a second pair of eyes.

7. Make your CV easy to read

Recruiters don’t spend long reading individual CVs. The employment website Indeed notes that employers spend six to seven seconds looking at each one.

Creating a document which is clearly structured into key sections will quickly draw their attention to your skills and attributes.

Be sure to include:

  • spacing
  • bullet points
  • consistent fonts, sizes and layout
  • clear section headings
  • a clear font which looks professional and with a size no less than 10


Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.