When it comes to becoming a lawyer, it’s assumed that their primary task is to represent clients in a court of law. What many candidates then discover, is that this task is often allocated to litigation attorneys – specially trained lawyers who have extensive experience in legal proceedings, mediation, and arbitration. However, before a candidate can become one, they must first perfect their litigation attorney resume.
There are several subtle differences between the general practice lawyer and one that specializes in litigation. Their skills are fine-tuned, possess specific qualifications, and have completed an educational and employment tract that helps them achieve their goals.
So – how do you write an engaging litigation resume? Are there litigation associate resume writing tips that will help you streamline this process – without compromising quality? These are some of the questions we’ll address and answer below.
Litigation Attorney Resume Sample
The best way to learn how to complete any task is to review a finished product. This is just as helpful when you’re trying to create an engaging litigation attorney resume. The sample litigation attorney resume posted below was created by our team of professional resume writers. It displays each of the sections that are required, infused with creative and engaging language that helps to build the case that supports their application.
Posted below is a great example of what an ESL teaching resume should be written. You’ll notice that the resume is clean, grammatically accurate (very important for an English teacher), and structured in an easy-to-follow format. It also highlights several of the hard skills and interpersonal traits that educators look for in an ESL teacher.
You’ll notice that Jason’s litigation attorney resume example is clean, easy-to-read, and includes multiple action phrases and experience that is relevant to this specific position. For example, he highlights his experience with pre-litigation negotiations, legal research, caseload management, jury selection, local and federal courts experience, and filing motions to support his client's legal case.
Further, you’ll notice that his educational path and previous work history have guided him towards this legal specialty. He likewise adds a list of skills including strong written and verbal communication skills, maintaining confidentiality, and is a results-driven individual. These are all skills that must be top of mind of any litigation attorney.
Whether you’re creating a commercial litigation attorney resume or a civil litigation attorney resume, you should follow the sample above as a guideline for creating yours. Let’s break down each of the sections listed in the good litigation attorney resume posted above.
Litigation Resume Guide 2021: How to Write a Good Litigation Attorney Resume
When you’re struggling with any project, the best way to tackle the project is to step back and create a solid plan of attack. With resume writing, this is accomplished by establishing a dedicated outline – or a master resume. This document is your opportunity to outline the resume, insert all relevant data in each section, fine-tune the content, and finally edit it for spelling and grammatical errors.
As you begin the process of writing an experienced or associate litigation attorney resume, start by opening a word document and creating a list of recommended primary sections – including:
- Personal Contact Information
- Professional Summary
- Summary of Qualifications
- Work History
Make sure to bold type these primary sections – so you know they are going to provide the primary outline on which you insert relevant data. Once each section is built, take the opportunity to choose the selections that best fit the job you are seeking. For example, if you’re applying for a commercial litigation attorney position, it’s best to showcase your previous work history in this segment.
Section #1 – List Your Contact Information
If there is a section of any resume that should be universal – regardless of the job type, it’s the contact information. It’s always best to keep this area simple, with a sharp focus on maintaining accuracy and listing accurate and up-to-date information.
An often-asked question, specifically for litigation attorney positions, is whether it’s professionally advised to place the title “Esquire” on your resume? We believe that it’s more than acceptable. If you’ve earned a professional title – such as an MD – you’d list this on a physician’s resume. The same applies to a litigation attorney resume as well.
How to Format this Section
Clean, neat, and straight is the best way to attack contact information. It’s best to list your full legal name, followed by your mailing address, email, and mobile phone number. Since most of today’s recruiting or hiring firms utilize automated SMS text messages to alert candidates on their application status, it’s crucial to list your mobile phone.
Section #2 – Professional Summary
The professional summary is arguably the most important section of any resume. It’s essentially a four to five-sentence elevator pitch that allows the candidate to explain why they are a perfect fit for the company they are applying to. This paragraph should flow from start to finish, with action verbs and relevant skills sprinkled throughout.
The tone in your professional summary for a litigation attorney should be firm, confident, yet conversational in nature. You want the reader to be engaged and captivated. More importantly, you want them to continue reading each subsection of the resume. For a litigation attorney, some of the crucial skills that you should mention in this resume include:
- Arbitration Experience
- Bar admissions
- Persuasive Communication
- Jury Selection
- Motions and Pleas
- Courtroom Etiquette
- Memoranda and Complex Legal Issues
A quick glance at Jason’s civil litigation attorney resume will reveal several of these keywords written cleanly in the summary. More importantly, when you read the professional summary aloud, it flows from start to finish.
Tip* Whether you're a litigation specialist in personal injury, real estate law, or civil and criminal litigation cases, make sure to customize your summary to the firm you're applying.
How to Format this Section
The professional summary is always a brief paragraph. It should be no more than 200 words and comprised of four or five sentences. Make sure to read the finished paragraph aloud – to ensure that the summary reads easily. No need to expand on your professional experience in this section - that will come in the content below.
Section #3 – Summary of Qualifications
Every litigation attorney understands that their primary task is to win – period. They are hired by clients to represent them in legal negotiations or if their case goes to court. As such, when they apply for a litigation lawyer position, the qualifications they possess will likely help them gain the crucial interview.
The qualifications that an experienced litigation lawyer should include in their resume may include a few of the following:
- Successful litigation record and legal experience
- Date of BAR Exam Certification and BAR association
- Licensing data – States in which you are licensed to practice law
- Excellent courtroom presentation and advocacy
- Case strategy and understanding of case law
- Exceptional negotiation skills
- Persuasive communicator
- Charismatic and Personable
These job-specific qualifications will be supported by practical examples in your previous work history section – following the summary of qualifications. You can expand on qualifications in your cover letter if you choose.
How to Format this Section
Using a litigation attorney resume template can significantly improve your ability to correctly format this section. Qualifications should be listed in bullet points – with an introductory sentence or two to explain why you’re an ideal candidate. While it might be tempting to add as many professional qualifications as possible – best practices suggest keeping it to less than 10 entries.
Section #4 – Employment History
Having the right type of employment history is more important than the quantity of previous legal jobs. This is especially critical when the candidate is seeking a litigation attorney position. Within this section, you’ll want to list the name, location, and dates of employment. Directly underneath, list four to five key accomplishments that support your argument as the ideal litigation lawyer applicant.
For example – in Jason’s litigation attorney resume, you’ll notice that he only mentioned two previous positions. However, they are filled with measurable details about his case success, client relationships, and courtroom experience. A hiring manager, legal partner, or HR firm is going to seek these details in every resume they review. So, make sure to give them what they’re looking for.
For those who are experienced and writing a senior litigation attorney resume, keep the employment history to your two recent positions.
How to Format this Section
Best practices for writing resumes embrace the reverse chronological order of listing previous work history. This applies to the legal industry as well. Always begin this section with your current or most recent position, then insert the position held prior to that entry. List the name of the company, its location, dates, and a few of the aforementioned bullet points of key accomplishments.
Section #5 – Education
Every lawyer understands the value of a great education, from an established and credible law school. A litigation attorney's resume should always include the law school attended. This provides the hiring manager or HR firm the critical information typically – they will verify.
When you have experience as a litigation attorney, the education section should be simple – add the law school, Juris Doctor degree earned, and the date of graduation. For those applying for their first litigation attorney position, it’s a solid idea to add your undergraduate education and bachelor of arts or political science degree earned as well. There is no need to list your GPA.
How to Format this Section
The education section of every resume should be written with a focus on simplicity. You’ll want to list the name of the school, the location, and the dates of attendance. There is no need to add bullet points discussing your area of focus or honors earned. Keep it simple, and allow the qualifications, work history, and professional summary to gain you the interview.
Section #6 – References
A lawyer’s references can make or break their application. Choosing the right individuals to vouch for your character, experience, and work ethic is an important decision. There are a few schools of thought to consider.
First, you can select references that are peers or mentors in this specific profession. For example, if you worked at a law firm during your law clerk or associate attorney term – and they had a litigation attorney who guided you through the position, this would make an outstanding reference.
Second, you can choose a reference that is well respected in the local community. This tends to help the managers select you for an interview – if you’re recommended by such an individual. Whichever option you choose, make sure you have their permission to use them as a reference.
How to Format This Section
Privacy and withholding sensitive information are critical attributes that any attorney must possess. This can be showcased – or destroyed in the reference section of your resume. As such, make sure to only list your reference first and last name, and place of employment. Do not document their contact information. The best thing to do here is simply write “available upon request”.
Section #7 – Skills
The final section for your litigation resume will be adding your skills. The skills section is one of those that is typically overlooked by many hiring managers. However, it’s better to have it on the resume than not.
There are two types of skills you should consider adding to the resume. Hard skills are those that help you become a better litigation lawyer. These would be tools – such as Microsoft Office or Apple / Adobe Suite experience, that help you assemble legal documents, briefs and case files. Soft skills are interpersonal skills or abilities, such as exceptional oral and written communication, charisma, negotiations, and persuasiveness.
How to Format this Section
The skills section is typically inserted on the outside edges of a resume. Using a solid resume template can help you select the perfect location on the resume to list them. With format, simply write them in bullet point format. It’s best to select your top five for a litigation attorney resume.
Other Attorney and Lawyer Resume Templates
There are multiple types of attorneys, ranging from litigation experts to those that focus on contracts, mitigation, and specific industries. If you’d like to review a few of the most common lawyer resume examples, please click the links below.
Final Points on Writing Litigation Attorney and Litigation Associate Resumes
The key to writing an engaging resume is to ensure it tells a story from start to finish. It should open with a solid professional summary, supported by relevant work experience, and wrapped up with references that can testify to your abilities and character.
However, assuming that you can write a single litigation resume for each job applied for could be a vital mistake. You should maintain a master resume, and customize some of the sections for each law firm. The sample resume shows us a solid example of this – as Jason personalizes his opening statement to address his desire to join that specific firm.
Along with these critical fine details, there are some other tips you should remember when writing and editing a resume.
- Ensure that the resume has a nice flow from start to finish.
- Always write your resume on a plain white background with black font.
- Use an online platform called Grammarly.com to edit the content.
- Ensure its well-spaced, organized, and professional.
- Finally, read it out loud a few times before you’re ready to paste the content into an attorney resume template.
By following the tips and advice in the article above, you’ll have a better chance of engaging with potential employers. Take advantage of those action verbs we mentioned in the introduction – and pepper them throughout the resume – so that any automated software programs will pass the resume along to further review.