A career in law is all about justice. Whether you argue for equity, representation, or defending people or corporations’ rights, you provide invaluable assistance in and around the legal profession.
Significant growth is projected for the legal profession, making it a favorable career option. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment in the legal profession will grow 5% from 2019-2029, resulting in 67,600 new jobs.
In this guide, we’ll help you ride this wave of growth by equipping you with tips to write a good resume and get a job.
For starters, let’s learn about the three types of resume formats:
Law job titles
Current trends in the law industry
With the onset and rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, the legal industry witnessed several paradigm shifts, with workplaces and education moving online worldwide. This poses a new threat with a hike in cybersecurity violations and cybercrimes, leading to rising demands of legal professionals specializing in cybersecurity. There are many other trends. The mass retirement of baby boomers, for example, is raising asset management and retirement plan markets, and a 33% rise in commercial bankruptcies needs legal officers to manage them. Then there’s also the efficiency-boosting measures taken by law firms that are expected to generate employment in other familiar and untapped avenues.
With a projected growth of 5%, which is faster than the average for other professions, law and legal services are a booming and bustling industry with vast potential.
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Salary and employment outlook for law jobs
Jobs in the legal profession are broadly categorized below:
Bar-certified legal jobs
Lawyers or attorneys are legal practitioners with certification from the state bar and require bar admission in every state they wish to work. They are the only legal professionals who represent, defend, and accuse clients in a court of law. Attorneys often specialize in different branches of law such as Immigration Law, Health Law, and Family Law, or work as plaintiff attorneys, defense attorneys, or appellate attorneys. Lawyers are usually employed in private law firms or work in-house at legal departments of corporations. Setting up a private practice is also common.
Job outlook 2020–2028
Lawyer or attorney:
The employment of lawyers will rise 4% between 2019 to 2029 — a numeric increase of 32,300 jobs.
Legal assistance and research jobs
Legal professionals aid lawyers or attorneys in their research-based and administrative tasks and make all legal services more efficient. They are usually hired by government agencies, law firms, or corporate legal departments, performing functions like the transcription of client interactions and meetings, documentation and organization of files, reports and contracts, researching case related laws, regulations, rules and statutes, and helping lawyers prepare for trial hearings. Other responsibilities may include looking after attorneys’ schedules and inventory management.
Job outlook 2020–2029
The employment of paralegals will increase 10% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average of all occupations — a growth of 35,300 jobs.
Overall employment of legal assistants is forecast to grow at 10%, with 35,300 jobs estimated.
Due to legal assistants and paralegals taking over responsibilities traditionally held by legal secretaries, expect a dip in the employment of legal secretaries to 22% from 2019 to 2029. That means a decline of 38,00 jobs.
8 of the top skills needed for law jobs
Law is a demanding career. It requires plenty of technical and hard skills, as well as soft skills. Technical skills help you perform the rudimentary part of your job well; for example, arbitration helps attorneys settle disputes without court involvement. In comparison, soft skills help you deal with the inevitable human contact and ensures smooth workflows and interactions. Technical skills are usually developed through on-the-job training and education, and guess what — so can soft skills. Learning how to be a better communicator, for example, requires understanding how and why people want to talk about a work issue. A healthy blend of soft skills and hard skills makes a person eligible for more jobs.
The following are the top six hard and soft skills required to attain a job in law:
Legal research and writingResearching historical legal cases, looking up relevant rules and statutes, and learning about evidence analysis and persuasive legal writing is a recurrent part of a legal job. Accuracy in research and effective legal writing is necessary for both bar-certified legal professionals and legal assistants and paralegals.
Legal writing is taught in most educational institutions for legal professionals as a part of the curriculum and can also be picked up by earning a certificate.
Legal specializationMany legal professionals choose to specialize in various fields of law such as Environmental Law, Property Law, and Corporate Law. They may want to capitalize on emerging markets with favorable future growth by working on Technology or Patent Law. Or they may specialize in an area of law simply because they’re passionate about it or are well-paid and in-demand. You can learn more about various law specializations at academic institutions’ legal repositories, such as this one at Brown University. Law schools, remember, offer law degrees in general and distinct disciplines.
A detail-orientated mindMaking sure work is free from error needs thorough checking. Legal paperwork, successful inventory management, and taking witness testimonials all require incredible and focused attention to detail. This is a mindset that you can learn in school and improve through work and often helps you and your firm circumvent potential negligence lawsuits.
Document preparation and evaluationPreparing documents like contracts, wills, subpoenas and dispositions used in court hearings and rendering other legal services is necessary for legal professionals. Evaluating paperwork, including that of opposing counsel, is a routine task. Legal secretaries and paralegals require these skills as much as attorneys.
Case managementIn law, case management refers to managing, consolidating, and safekeeping information and data related to a case or matter using specific knowledge and methodologies. Most law firms, corporations, and government agencies use case management software to access information. Knowledge of legal case management software helps adhere to judicial policies and promotes overall efficiency. Popular case management software includes Westlaw and Lexis.
Technical LiteracyOwing to technological innovation, monotonous and repetitive tasks like legal e-discovery, case management, trial presentation, filing and documentation, and billing and transactions occur on computer systems online. People looking for jobs in this field need to have a working knowledge of software like MS Office, Nextpoint, Clio, OnCue, and many more. Even knowing about major social networks like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is now crucial because so much of people’s lives are lived on those platforms that legal matters, like parental abuse or illegal traffic accidents, often start there or contain evidence.
OrganizationThe dynamic world of law has no room for error. Sometimes people’s livelihood, respect in society, and their future hang in the balance in a trial hearing. In such a charged and intense atmosphere, lack of organization could be a fatal problem. Systematic handling of documents, case files, bills and invoices, transactions, evidence, and exhibits need structured organization.
MultitaskingSimultaneously managing a heavy caseload, maintaining client interactions, keeping the attorney’s or lawyer’s work schedule, coordinating travel and events, and court reporting is no easy job. Research and assistance-based legal jobs demand multitasking ability as the individual needs to keep up with administrative and legal tasks.
Educational requirements for law jobs
Lawyers and attorneys need to have any specific educational, licensing, and state and federally sanctioned credentials. They require completing a Juris Doctor (J.D.) after their bachelor’s degree in any major. Most people who want to become an attorney must first get their bachelor’s degree in courses that prepare them for the rigorous academics of law school like political science and history. Still, you can apply with any degree, including technical and scientific ones like computer science and biology. Admission to a law school requires taking the LSATs (Law School Admission Test) and scoring high on the test. You can choose from various specializations like Health Care law, Labor law, and Admiralty law once you get into law school. After getting a J.D., attorneys need to take the bar examination for every state they want to practice law. Admission to the bar allows them to practice their craft and become a full-fledged lawyer.
Outside of those big legal jobs, others support them very important, such as in legal research or assistance. You can get on-the-job training, education, and certifications to help you gain technical skills, including legal research and writing. More than likely, a legal support job will require a bachelor’s or associate degree in political science, paralegal studies, or American law. Choosing to specialize in areas of law like Immigration law and Bankruptcy law is also beneficial. The American Bar Organization’s Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education programs contains a list of institutes providing diploma, Bachelor’s and associate courses used by legal assistants and secretaries.
Law resume examples by experience level
Based on your experience and career history, you have to choose a resume format that portrays you in the best light as a perfect candidate for the job. Glance at the resume examples corresponding to your experience level below and follow the tips mentioned to craft the best resume possible.
3 tips to stand out and get the job you want
Adhere to the one-page limit.Often, people forget that this is a crucial tip, however cliche. If your resume extends over one page, consider omitting or reducing content. Hiring managers and employers receive dozens of resumes for the same job title, and they do not have time to go through multiple ones that span over multiple pages. Keep it short and straightforward.
Present the best resume, always.Presenting the best resume you can means making minor changes to your resume throughout your career.
- Make sure to alter your resume for every different job you apply for, considering the essential and good-to-have skills mentioned by the employer. This allows you to put your best foot forward every time.
- This might come off as a bizarre suggestion, but it’s helpful: Save your resume as ‘Your Name resume’ before sending it to your prospective employer. If you save it simply as a ‘resume,’ chances are it will be lost among the crowd of resumes. It helps the hiring manager access your resume easily.
- Make sure to either use a good template for your resume or keep your resume clean, simple and modern in the absence of a template. Do not go overboard with its appearance, but let the content and information speak for themselves.
Always research the organization before the interviewInterviewers often ask why you want to join their organization, why they should hire you, or how you came to know the organization. Answering these questions requires you to research the institution before attending the interview. Find out about the firm’s values, mission, and vision statements if they have them and go through their website. Find out what you have in common with the enterprise, what qualities you possess, and what role you can play to help them materialize their goals.
4 easy steps to build an interview-winning law resume
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What is the highest degree one can have in law?
The highest degree of law one can hold in the United States is the Doctor of Juridical Science. To obtain the Doctor of Juridical Science degree, the minimum requirements are to have a Juris Doctor, or J.D., and Latin Legum Magister (Master of Law), or LLM degree from an accredited university or college.
Since legal secretaries, legal assistants, and paralegals do not have a mandatory educational requirement, can they not be certified professionals?
You don’t need them for all jobs, but certifications are always good to have. Legal secretaries, legal assistants and paralegals can obtain accreditation from institutions like NALA, the Paralegal Association, and NALS, the association for legal professionals. These institutions provide certification to those who pass their exams. You can apply to take these exams by going to their websites and paying the stipulated fee.
What are some other careers in law?
Other careers in law include jobs like that of judges, professors, lecturers and other educators in institutions or similar positions in academia, in insurance firms, finance corporations, as legal recruiters and law firm administrators, or set up your practice. Otherwise, you can consider working for international organizations like the United Nations.