In today’s competitive job market, a well-crafted curriculum vitae (CV) is essential for aspiring legal professionals. Your law CV serves as your first impression, highlighting your skills, experience, and potential as a law student. To help you stand out from the crowd, we’ve compiled ten valuable tricks to improve your law CV during your university years.
1. Tailor Your CV to the Legal Sector
When crafting your law CV, it’s crucial to tailor it specifically to the legal sector. Highlight relevant skills, experiences, and achievements that demonstrate your passion and aptitude for law. For example:
- Highlight relevant modules or courses related to law, such as “Public Law” or “Commercial Law,” offered by reputable universities like the University of Oxford or the University of Law.
- Discuss any legal work experience, such as shadowing a solicitor at a prominent law firm like Clifford Chance or assisting with legal research at a renowned legal organisation like Liberty.
2. Showcase Your Academic Excellence
Academic achievements play a vital role in the legal profession. An employer would rather have a high 2:1 with fewer extra-curricular activities than a third by a President of every society possible.
- Include your GPA or any academic honors, such as being awarded the “Dean’s List” at the University of Cambridge or receiving a scholarship from the Law Society of England and Wales.
- Mention specific research projects or dissertations where you achieved exceptional results, such as conducting groundbreaking research on human rights law or presenting a thesis on intellectual property law.
3. Emphasise Transferable Skills
In addition to legal knowledge, employers value transferable skills. Underline these abilities in your CV by illustrating how you developed them through extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, or volunteer work. For example:
- Highlight skills like communication, critical thinking, research, and teamwork, developed through activities like participating in Model United Nations conferences or leading a law-focused society at your university.
- Provide examples of how you developed these skills through extracurricular activities, such as organising legal debates or collaborating with fellow students on a complex case study analysis.
4. Gain Practical Experience
Law firms and legal organisations value practical experience. Seek opportunities to intern or shadow professionals in law firms, NGOs, or governmental agencies. Summer internships or vacation schemes can provide valuable insights into the legal industry and enhance your CV. For instance:
- Seek internships or vacation schemes at prestigious law firms like Allen & Overy or Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where you can work on real legal cases and gain firsthand experience of the legal profession.
- Secure a winter/spring/summer scheme at a London firm, mini-pupillage at a chambers or a placement at a regional small scale solicitors.
- Describe your responsibilities, skills acquired, and impact made during these experiences, such as assisting solicitors with legal research, drafting legal documents, or participating in client meetings.
5. Volunteer for Pro Bono Work
Demonstrate your commitment to social justice and community engagement by engaging in pro bono work. Providing free legal advice showcases your dedication to helping others. These experiences also offer valuable exposure to different areas of law and enhance your problem-solving skills. For example:
- Participate in legal clinics run by organisations like Citizens Advice or the Free Representation Unit, where you can provide free legal advice to individuals in need.
- Highlight your contributions and the impact you made while helping others resolve legal issues or navigate complex legal processes.
6. Highlight Mock Trial Experience
Participating in moot court or mock trial competitions provides practical courtroom experience and helps develop your advocacy skills. Employers recognize the value of these activities and appreciate candidates with strong oral advocacy skills. For instance:
7. Showcase Language Proficiency
In an increasingly globalised legal landscape, language skills are highly valued. It also demonstrates your adaptability and opens doors to potential international opportunities. For example:
- Highlight your proficiency in languages other than English, such as French, German, or Mandarin.
- Mention specific courses, certifications, or international experiences that improved your language skills, such as completing language courses at the Alliance Française or studying abroad at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
8. Get Involved in Legal Research
Employers seek candidates with a keen interest in legal research. These experiences exhibit your ability to conduct thorough research, analyse complex legal issues, and contribute to the field. You can:
- Engage in legal writing, research assistantships, or contribute to law journals like the “Cambridge Law Journal” or “Law Quarterly Review.”
- Cite any articles, papers, or legal publications you have authored or co-authored, demonstrating your research capabilities and contributions to the field.
9. Develop a Professional Online Presence
In today’s digital age, a professional online presence is essential. This adds credibility to your CV and increases your visibility to potential employers.
- Create a LinkedIn profile and optimise it by including your law-related experiences and skills.
- Connect with professionals in the legal field, such as barristers, solicitors, or legal scholars, and join relevant groups and discussions, such as the “UK Law Professionals Network” or the “Law Careers Forum.”
10. Commit to Continuous Professional Development
Demonstrate your commitment to ongoing professional development by attending legal workshops, conferences, and seminars. This exhibits your willingness to stay up-to-date with legal developments and shows your dedication to a career in law.
- Attend legal workshops, conferences, or seminars organised by renowned institutions like the Law Society of England and Wales or the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX).
- Highlight any relevant certifications or courses you have completed, such as the “Advanced Contract Law Certification” or the “Certificate in Legal Research and Writing.”
- A good example in a law-related environment is to become a Campus Ambassador. Not only does this keep you in the loop with top employers, but it will demonstrate to firms/chambers that you have the ability to work alongside professionals. You can even become an ambassador for The Lawyer Portal!
Crafting an impressive law CV is crucial for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the legal field. By implementing these ten tricks during your university years, you can enhance your CV and improve your chances of securing internships, vacation schemes, and future employment opportunities. Tailor your CV to the legal sector, emphasise transferable skills, gain practical experience, and showcase your achievements to make a lasting impression on potential employers. Combine these strategies with continuous professional development, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful legal career.
Remember, your law CV is a reflection of your potential as a legal professional, so invest time and effort into its creation. With the right blend of experience, skills, and a captivating CV, you’ll be one step closer to unlocking exciting opportunities in the legal industry.