If you are interested in pursuing a career as a paralegal, one of the most important things you can do is write an effective resume. A strong resume will help to showcase your skills and experience and will most likely be the key to getting your foot in the door and landing the paralegal job you want. In this article, we'll provide some tips and ideas for creating a paralegal resume that will impress your future employers. 

Format: What a Paralegal Resume Should Look Like

All legal resumes are essentially the same in terms of format. Thus, your paralegal resume should fit on one to two pages. The recommended font you should use is Times New Roman, Arial, Cambria, or similar, whereas the size is 10-12 points. When it comes to the margins, the standard is 0.75” to 1” on the left and right, and 0.7” and 0.5” at the top and bottom.

Order: How To Organize Paralegal Resume Sections

Sometimes, organizing a resume isn’t a straightforward task. The most common dilemma people, including paralegals, have when drafting their resume is how to order the information. The order of sections on a paralegal resume should be as follows:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Summary
  3. Skills
  4. Work Experience 
  5. Education 

Please keep in mind, though, that this is not set in stone. Recent graduates who haven’t had the chance to acquire sufficient work experience yet can put their education first. On the other hand, if you’re a highly experienced paralegal, your resume should feature your work experience before your educational background. 

You should also know that education and work experience are supposed to be listed in reverse-chronological order. This means that, for instance, your most recent job position will go first. There are also some optional sections you may consider including, such as:

  • Accomplishments
  • Volunteer Work
  • Certifications
  • Awards
  • Associations
  • Publications
  • Languages
  • Conferences and Training
  • Hobbies and Interests

Intro: Draw Attention With a Powerful Summary Statement

It’s no secret that hiring managers often skim through resumes rather than reading each one in detail because they generally receive a high volume of applications. To put things into perspective, statistics suggest that, on average, hiring managers for corporate jobs receive around 250 resumes but invite just four to six candidates for an interview. Ultimately, only one applicant gets hired.

That’s why, in order to land your dream job and start earning as a paralegal, you should make sure that the most remarkable pieces of information stand out on your paralegal CV. A good way to do this is to lead with an eye-catching summary statement. 

This is your opportunity to grab the reader's attention by giving them a glimpse of your professional identity and what you have to offer. Keep it concise and focus on your most relevant qualifications and experience. ​​Here is an example of a paralegal resume summary statement:

“A detail-oriented paralegal with five years of experience working in a law firm. Proven ability to handle complex legal research and writing projects. Skilled at multitasking and able to stay composed under pressure.”

In case you’re writing an entry-level paralegal resume, and you don’t have much professional experience, you can use your summary statement to highlight your relevant skills and qualifications instead. For instance:

“Certified paralegal with excellent research and writing skills. Extensive experience working on legal projects as a paralegal student intern. Organized and detail-oriented.”

Skills: Which Ones To List on a Paralegal Resume

When it comes to writing paralegal resumes that stand out, you should carefully select the skills you will include. You don’t want any irrelevant skills taking up space in your resume. After all, you’ll have the opportunity to say a bit more about yourself in your cover letter.

It’s advisable to include a mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are specific, measurable, and teachable abilities that you acquire through experience or education. They are often technical in nature and can be listed on your resume with little explanation. Below is a paralegal resume example that presents hard skills well:

  • Conducting legal research
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Filing court documents
  • Managing case files

Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal qualities that make you a good fit for the job. Even though not as easily quantifiable, they are nonetheless essential to success in any role. Some examples of soft skills for a paralegal resume are:

  • Strong communication abilities
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good organizational skills

Work Background: List Relevant Job Duties You Performed 

If you have already worked at a law firm, corporate legal department, or a government agency as a paralegal, be sure to list that on your resume. It’s recommended to briefly describe your duties for each paralegal position rather than simply listing your previous jobs. For instance, if you worked as a junior paralegal, your paralegal job description for a resume should look something like this:

  • Conducted extensive legal research, and compiled evidence
  • Drafted and edited legal documents
  • Held meetings with clients

Of course, you should be more specific regarding the kind of research you conducted, what kind of legal documents you handled, and so on. Moreover, you can add your key accomplishments. This will give the reader a better idea of your day-to-day responsibilities, contributions, and what kind of work you’re capable of.

If you have little to no work experience as a paralegal, and are thus writing a beginner paralegal resume, you can still list other relevant jobs that helped you develop the essential skills required for the role. For instance, if you previously worked as a legal assistant, administrative assistant, or customer service representative, you can still include those roles on your resume. Just make sure to focus on the transferable skills that would be relevant to a paralegal job. 

Education: How To Include Your Educational Background on a Resume

The educational background section of your resume for a paralegal position is quite important because it demonstrates to hiring managers that you have the necessary educational credentials for the job. Your highest degree should be at the top, followed by other degrees listed in reverse-chronological order. 

In addition, you can list relevant coursework that helped you develop the essential skills that make you a great candidate for the paralegal job. This is especially useful if you have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than paralegal studies. For example, if you majored in English, you can list courses that involved writing, research, and critical thinking.

Pertinent certifications should also be included on your resume. If you have acquired any paralegal certifications, or certifications in software required for the paralegal job, such as LexisNexis, those are bound to attract the attention of the hiring manager reviewing your resume.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a few things to keep in mind when creating your paralegal resume. By following the tips we’ve provided and highlighting relevant skills and experience, you should be able to create a CV that stands out from the pool of applicants. 

Finally, be sure to proofread your resume multiple times before submitting it. This will ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors that could end up costing you the job.