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How to write a Legal Assistant CV:
Provide your name, address, phone number and email address.
You may also wish to provide social media handles such as LinkedIn or Twitter. LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to expand on the information contained in your CV and give yourself a competitive advantage. Find out how to create a killer LinkedIn CV here.
If you regularly tweet about legal developments, it’s also worth including your Twitter handle. This shows prospective employers that you have a real interest in law and that you keep up to date with the latest legislation and cases.
TIP: Additional language skills can be a huge advantage, so if you can converse with clients in another language, mention it here!
Your profile is an opportunity to grab the recruiter’s attention with just a few lines. Before you start, study the job advert carefully and pick out the requirements that are most important to the employer.
If the job advert contains little detail, take a look at some job description sites for inspiration. These will help you focus on the skills and experience that are likely to be most important. A Legal Assistant’s duties are similar to those of a Paralegal. See, for example:
It’s easy enough to list off skills such as legal research or the ability to work under pressure, but it’s more powerful if you can weave evidence of how you’ve used those skills into your CV. If you’re currently working in a very busy department, say so! This shows you can manage a pressured environment far better than you simply stating that you can.
List your work experience, most recent first. Look at the job advert carefully and try to highlight duties and experience which matches what the employer is looking for.
Generally, employers in this industry want assistants who can take as much burden off their busy fee earners as possible. Put yourself in the position of a fee earner and ask what skills you can offer which would allow them to focus on the more technical aspects of their role. For example, if you have experience with tasks that are typically reserved for fee earners, such as meeting or taking instructions from clients, detail this on your CV. Or perhaps you have previously assisted a fee earner with some legal research –
You may have already highlighted some of your skills in your profile and work history, but it is worth including anything here that either (a) the employer wants specifically or (b) would give you an advantage. For example, as a Legal Assistant, you may have used one or more Practice Management Systems before – and this can be useful when joining a new firm. Alternatively perhaps you’re confident with legal research software packages such as LexisNexis or Westlaw, or hard copy legal sources – and you’re confident researching points of law. Highlighting these skills in a separate section can ensure that prospective employers who are scanning through your CV can quickly see that you are an excellent candidate.
Your qualifications should be listed with the highest achievement first.
Whilst Legal Assistants aren’t expected to have formal legal qualifications, they can be an advantage. CILEX offer a wide range of qualifications including some targeted specifically at those kick-starting their legal career. These can lead to more advanced qualifications such as acceptance as a Fellow of the Institute.
If you have completed GCSEs or A Levels, detail these here. If you have a degree, it is not usually necessary to include your GCSEs, although sometimes it is worth including them. For example, if your degree is in a more creative subject (such as Art or Music), you may want to use your certificates to show you have a good standard of English and Maths.
Although there’s no obligation to include an ‘Interests’ section, your hobbies and interests outside of work can help demonstrate further valuable soft skills. For example, taking part in sports can show teamwork, whilst coaching can show leadership and mentoring skills.
Your interests can also help demonstrate that you take an interest in your health and wellbeing, implying that it is less likely you’ll take a lot of sick days.
The references section is optional and if you’re struggling for space, it’s fine to leave it off. Many people who are currently working avoid giving reference contacts on their CV, in case the prospective employer contacts the reference before making a job offer (although this is rare). It is perfectly acceptable to write ‘references available on request’ or simply to leave the section off altogether.
NB: This Legal Assistant CV template was originally published 11th February 2016 and has been completely updated for 2021.