How to Write a Law Student Resume With No Legal Experience
One of the most common questions I’m often asked by law students is How to write a law student resume with no legal experience.
If you’re a law student looking for legal jobs, it can be a daunting task and an arduous process writing a legal resume while contemplating how exactly you make your resume relevant to an industry you’ve quite possibly never had any experience in.
The most likely scenario is that you’re a law student seeking to apply to law clerk, paralegal or legal assistant type roles whilst you study and complete your law degree. It’s a common right of passage as a law student to find the holy grail of a part-time legal job that fits around your forever changing study and class timetable. However, finding such a position and gaining this invaluable experience during your years’ of study certainly makes the transition into a graduate lawyer role so much easier.
You most probably have professional experience unrelated to law, but the challenge remains, how do you use that experience, and how do you put it into a format which demonstrates to potential legal employers that you’re a good candidate for the role you’re applying to?
This is how you identify and demonstrate your suitability
#1 Identify Your Current Skills
The first step is to identify the skills you’ve obtained from your past experience. Are you able to clearly demonstrate how you’ve obtained and developed those skills?
Example: if you’ve worked in a previous fashion retail job. You might list one of your skills as “Customer Service”. What you need to do at this stage is to demonstrate how you developed this skill from your work experience.
You may say something like;
Key skills obtained: Customer service: During my time at “Z fashion” it was my responsibility to greet customers on arrival, see to their needs and assist with sizing and style advice. I would also assist with refunds and exchanges regarding unsuitable purchases and faulty items. I’ve developed strong customer skills through constant customer interaction and communication, it was strengthened further through the wide variety of personalities I would interact with on a frequent basis.
Repeat this step with all the major skills you’ve gained in your past experience and really ensure you can demonstrate how you’ve obtained and developed those skills. This is a very important part of the process as it forms the base of your cover letter and resume. It also helps you to identify your relevant skills that perhaps you were unaware of.
#2 Identify the Requirements of the Legal Job
The second step is to identify the skills required for an applicant to be considered suitable. This can be tricky, and in most cases not clearly spelled out in the job advertisement. You may have to look deep into job advertisement to ascertain the key skills that are important and needed to facilitate the duties in the job advertisement. Start making a list of the key duties of the advertised role and then note the skills which you think are needed to facilitate the operation of those duties.
Example: General reception, greeting clients, answering phones
Key skills would be Customer service/client skills, strong communication, pleasant phone manner, organizational and administrative skills.
#3. Demonstrate Your Skills Are Transferable
Draw parallels between your skills and the skills required of the role and demonstrate how the skills you’ve learned demonstrated by your experience match the skills or duties required of the advertised role.
#4 How you would write a law student resume with no legal experience and address it in your cover letter:
Advertised role: Legal Receptionist (entry level)
Duties: General reception, greeting clients, answering phones.
How you might address the duties demonstrating your transferable skills:
During my time at Z fashion, I developed exceptional customer service skills. I was responsible for providing assistance to a wide variety of customers with different personality types. I would at every instance, greet customers, provide assistance with sizing and style advice, and process refunds and exchanges as required.
My customer service skills developed from Z Fashion would allow me to confidently greet customers and answer phones as noted in your job advertisement and demonstrated by my experience.
Now, I have really simplified the above, but I hope you can understand that we’ve taken the skills you’ve developed from your past experience and demonstrated how they apply and would allow you to competently perform the duties of the advertised role.
It’s crucial if you have no legal experience (or limited legal experience) that you draw parallels this way. Don’t just simply line list your skills and experience and expect the potential employer to dissect your resume and do the hard work for you because they won’t. You need to make it very clear and do the hard work.
#5 How you would write a law student resume with no legal experience and address it in your legal resume:
The first thing you need to do is ensure you are using a law student resume template. It’s imperative that you use a legal resume template, we have detailed why in a previous post.
If you are not using one, download our free legal resume template -> Click Here
Relevant Article: Professional Legal Resume Writing Guide
Under your past experience, format it something like this:
Jan 2016 – July 2018
Z fashion, Brisbane,
Retail Sales Assistant
Z Fashion is a reputable fashion store located in the Brisbane CBD. They are known to stock the latest name brands targeted at the female 16-24 demographic.
My duties as a retail sales assistant consisted of assisting customers and guiding them toward making a purchase, promoting in-store sales, working with other team members to execute store marketing initiatives, handling cash, processing sales, exchanges, refunds and reconciling the POS.
Key skills developed: customer service, communication, stock management, marketing and promotions, cash handling and team skills.
- Identify your key skills
- Demonstrate how you’ve obtained and developed those skills from your past experience
- Identify the skills required from the duties outlined in the advertised job description
- Demonstrate how your skills are transferable and will allow you to facilitate the duties of the advertised role
That’s how you write a law student resume with no legal experience, follow the above steps and you’ll clearly demonstrate to potential law firms why you are the most suitable law student for the job!
If you have any questions about your resume, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Brietley London Career Services team.