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A paralegal job is a great stepping stone to a legal career. As an expert in legal research, paralegals must be organized, strong writers, and a team player with others who require the assistance of the paralegal’s work. Sometimes known as legal assistants, paralegals are a critical part of a legal team’s work. Paralegals work across law firms, corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies.
Here are some templates, examples and tips for how you can craft the perfect paralegal resume:
Paralegal Resume Template
Here is an example paralegal resume template you can use to jumpstart your resume.
HEADER First Name Last Name Email Address| City, State| Phone Number | LinkedIn URL RESUME SUMMARY/OBJECTIVE The summary or objective section should give a picture in 1-2 sentences of who you are and why you're well-suited to a particular role. Emphasize that what you bring is unique.
EMPLOYER HISTORY Write in reverse-chronological order between 3-5 of your most relevant positions. Job Title Organization Name Start Date - End Date
Paralegal Resume Examples
To get an idea of how to fill in a template for a paralegal resume, it can be helpful to look at a few examples. Realize not all paralegal resumes are made alike – people at different stages of their careers will have different items on their resumes.
Entry Level Paralegal Resume Sample
Stephanie Stewart S.Tewart@gmail.com | 678 South Street, Chicago, IL | 123-098-7654 Recent college graduate with internship experience in legal research and public policy. Interested in building experience in a law firm before growing my legal career in law school.
EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATIONS University of Massachusetts Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Major: Health Policy and Congressional Relations | Minor: Legal Studies September 2014 - May 2018 GPA: 3.9 SKILLS
Why this resume for entry level paralegals works:
When writing a resume for an entry-level paralegal position, your college experience and skills will be weighted heavily. So, it is important to highlight these first. Though relevant work experience is limited, this resume is still able to show metrics that support the skills listed in the skills section.
Experienced Paralegal Resume Sample
Tina Stewart Tina.Stewart@gmail.com | 879 Main Street, Indianapolis, IN | 945-673-4521 Senior Paralegal with 8 years of experience across litigation and corporate law. Strong interpersonal skills, with experience working collaboratively with supervising attorneys, government partners, co-counsel, and clients.
EMPLOYMENT HISTORY Senior Paralegal Sullivan and Cromwell September 2019- Present
Why it works:
When you’re experienced in an industry, then education comes at the bottom of your resume because it’s less relevant than your recent work experience. This resume shows gradual growth in roles, which indicates an ability to trust the candidate with more responsibility.
6 Types of Paralegal Roles
A strong candidate will always tweak their resume to match the unique attributes of a given job description. Here are some types of roles that may lead you to make adjustments to your objectives, skills, or work history.
- Works closely with trial team
- Manages trial administrative work
- Responsible for file management and witness support
- Has experience in pre-litigation and litigation work
- Tend to work at smaller, more niche firms
- Case management is critical since they work a high volume of cases
- Works closely with clients
- Must have strong communication skills because of communication with government agencies
- Knowing a second language is a STRONG skill
- Also works closely with clients
- Often work at nonprofits as legal aid
- Work in issues such as immigration, domestic violence, family law, bankruptcy, and more.
- Work under general counsel
- Smaller caseloads, but legal issues are high stages
- Administrative skills are imperative
- Could also support issues of corporate governance or executive compensation
- Tend to have varied responsibilities due to government’s many sectors
- Usually face more strict background checks
While there is a crossover between the types of roles, many employers prefer paralegals that have a particular specialty. If you see yourself in the paralegal field for a long time, consider what segment of the legal market may interest you long term. If you are using a paralegal role as a stepping stone to law school, then it may be helpful to think ahead of what type of lawyer you might like to become. Just remember…. specialization is critical.
Paralegal Resumes That Stand Out – 3 Things That Put You a Step Above the Rest
Since paralegals are relatively entry-level roles and some don’t even require college degrees, it can be difficult to stand out. Here are a few ways you can prepare your resume to present a skill set that will help you stand out.
- Certifications: There are many options for paralegal training programs that can give you a paralegal certificate to put on your resume. Candidates can earn paralegal certificates in a matter of months and courses are offered online or in-person. Courses tend to cost a few thousand dollars and training can include many types of law including civil, bankruptcy, contracts, family law, intellectual property, criminal law, and more.
- Languages: Knowing more than one language can help you stand out, especially if you’re applying to a paralegal that will work closely with clients who don’t speak English or in a role that may deal with international documents. These skills are particularly in demand in immigration law, corporate law, family law, and international law.
- Software Tools: You’ll be a step ahead if you can verify your skills in paralegal softwares on your resume. With automation and artificial intelligence being introduced into the legal industry, this will be vital for career longevity. There are several categories of software tools it helps to be familiar with. There are research databases (LexisNexis), management software (LegalEdge), and tools for effective admin work (Microsoft, Adobe, Slack, etc.).
Writing a Paralegal Resume as a Recent Graduate
While many professions don’t take applicants straight out of college, paralegal jobs are a great entry into the legal world from college. So how do you prepare your resume if you’re a student? Treat your clubs and student jobs in the same way a more experienced candidate would treat their past full-time roles. Here are a few things hiring managers may look out for from a student paralegal resume:
- Clubs: Involvement in different organizations says a lot. While volunteer organizations help you stand out to nonprofits, business clubs may help you stand out for a corporate paralegal role. Even working the school newspaper will help you stand out as a writer.
- Leadership Roles: If you held a leadership position in an organization or club, then this is the time to talk about it. Maybe you managed club finances, club records, or something else that highlights administrative leadership.
- Relevant Coursework: Your major and minor don’t always give the big picture. If you specialized in something or took a class outside of your major that gave you a unique perspective, then be sure to include it.
- Research Projects: A paralegals life work revolves around the ability to research. If you completed a research thesis or had a part-time research role, then you’ll be a step ahead of candidates who don’t have research experience.
- Internships: This is a big one. Internships have the potential to set you up for success by giving you experience and an opportunity to develop relevant skill sets. Particularly, internships in government offices at all levels can teach you skills that carry over into different specialties of law.
With many different paths that can lead to becoming a paralegal, networking is key to success. Using prospective cover letters as a tool to reach out to your network will help people keep you in mind for future opportunities. You can also leverage your network to find mentors who can help you through the process of creating and improving your paralegal resume.
Regardless of the industry, make sure your resume is clean and polished without any typos. Given this is an administrative role that deals with a high volume of notes, reports, and other documentation, your resume will be a reflection of how successful you’ll be when you finally land the job. So, be sure to make it count.