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Careers Counsel: Write the perfect CV for law firm job applications

Question: I am a law third year law student. How do I write a good CV to get a job with a law firm after graduation?

Should I focus on my internships or academic credentials?

How much detail should I go into and what kind of law school activities should I mention?

What kind of referees should I provide and do I need two?

Should I mention work experience outside of the law?

Answer: It may sound bit abstract, but writing a good CV is very important in today’s competitive world.

Please have a look at this draft CV template or this one, which could be suitably modified and used whilst preparing any CV for a job in a law firm after graduation.

With regard to academic credentials and internships, I can only say that you should write about your quality achievements.

The CV should showcase your abilities, strengths and character.

Simple language is always effective.

The referee is a person who could, if required, confirm at least few of your abilities stated in the CV. Referees could be your professor, or any senior lawyer or client.

Giving one referee is fine but giving two is always better. You could also simply say that reference would be provided at request.

If work experience outside of law is supporting your legal career then by all means write about it but not otherwise.

For example – if you have worked as a sales representative of consumer goods there is no point in writing about the same; but if you have worked as a trainee journalist with any news paper which has improved your writing skills you should certainly mention that but avoid writing in too much detail about it.

In such cases don’t forget that you have applied to become a lawyer!

Be precise and stay focused. Internship applications could also follow the same template but I guess with suitable changes.

Your CV should be sent with a simple forwarding letter - and make sure that it is addressed to the right person.
Nitin Potdar (pictured) is a partner at J Sagar Associates (JSA)

Legally India adds: We have written and read a number of good and bad CVs in our time. Our main tips are obvious but worth reiterating.

  • Keep it simple - do not use fancy fonts, formatting or colours.
  • Spellcheck, then proofread at least twice, then print out and proofread again the next day.
  • Then give it to a friend to proofread. One typo and your CV will more often than not land in the bin.
  • Be consistent. If you use the present or past tense in describing your work experience, stick to it throughout.
  • Keep sentences short and punchy and avoid personal pronouns.
  • Avoid the use of "etc." - it looks imprecise and lazy.
  • Be truthful. Embellishments or half-truths can often be quickly found out during the interview.
  • Make sure the CV is no longer than four pages at most but preferably shorter.
  • Use lots of white space on the page and a font size of at least 12 if possible - it will make the poor person who has to read 100 CVs happy.
  • Keep it simple.

Download our template CV for law firm jobs

Download template CV alternative example 

You should reformat it to fit your style - this is a bare-bone layout that should be adaptable to most purposes.

Finally, have you written and designed a CV that you are particularly proud of?

Please share your CV template with the community by stripping out personal information and emailing us a copy ().

We will post good examples and designs up on the site under a licence for all to use and enjoy (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0).

We will of course be happy to attribute credit to you for any CVs uploaded, if you like.

Happy job hunting!

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