How to Write a Legal CV

By: Together Abroad 18-07-2016

Categories:* CV / Resume, * Daily employment news,

There are countless examples on the web on how to make a good CV, giving tips on what information should be provided and the layout differs immensely, depending on the industry. When it comes to stylistics and content there are not many set rules. Certain information like social security numbers and bank accounts are best left out, other information like nationality and gender can be left out too.

There is no right or wrong CV, but adaptions can increase or even decrease ones chances. A classic layout can be considered boring and plain when applying for a designer’s position; a CV full with images, icons and pie charts might not sit well with companies who prefer the more traditional look.

Although legal CVs are more traditional in appearance, this does not mean their layout is set in stone.
Most CVs start with Curriculum Vitae, preferably in bold letters. The words themselves are rather redundant since the content of the document is evidently a summary of one’s career so far. Less apparent at first sight is whose career is presented. Instead of curriculum vitae, use your own name. That way the reader will immediately know whose details are about to be read.The personal information that follows is usually:
Name: xxx
Address: xxx
City: xxx
Date of Birth: dd/mm/year
Place of Birth:
Mobile: 06-12345678
Nationality: Nederlandse

It is not wrong, but it is a bit out-dated. A way to present this information could be:

First name and Surname
Street, number and city| mobile number| e-mail address | LinkedIn

Nationality and place of birth are not necessary. The date of birth should not matter either, but is often included. Leaving it out may help to receive a response from employers, but it can also give the impression the candidate is hiding his age.

After the personal details, a personal statement often follows in which you can highlight your key skills, highlight your achievements. It is written equivalent to the Elevator pitch. The statement shouldnot be too long, nor should it be a summary of previous work experiences.

After the personal statement, your employment follows. It is custom to use an a-chronological order, starting with your most recent experiences first. There are several ways to present the information:

2012- Recent Name profession Name company
Tasks and achievements:

2011-2012 Name profession Name company

Instead of having everything in bold, either the name of the profession or company can be in bold or underlined instead. Keep in mind to remain consistent in the layout and to retain the readability. Having both bold, italics and underlined gives a messy impression and makes it unpleasant to read.
The headings Education and Experience are not in a set order. Usually experience is presented before education, because this is often the most important information an employer should focus on. If, however, education is your selling point, it might be best to swap them around and have education lead your CV.

Other headings like hobbies, certifications, computer skills often follow last.

Fonts and Textual Effects
It is best to keep the design of legal CVs simple. Go for an easy to read font type, for example Arial, Veradana, Helvetica or Times New Roman. The latter is somewhat standard, so to distinguish your CV, going for a different font can help. Generally, size 12 point is advised to use in CVs. This is the case for fonts like Times New Roman, since the font is rather small. Arial and Veradana are rather large fonts so using 12point will blow up your CV, instead consider usingpoint 10 or 11. Keep in mind that when the text becomes too small it is unpleasant to read.

Using colours is usually best to keep to a minimum. To distinguish headers, put them in bold or underline them. If bold and/or underlining is too plain, you could combine it with a text effect like shadow:
Always check if the added effect does not affect the readability. If you would prefer to use colour it is best to use dark colours bordering black:

Small caps is another option, it is best to combine them with bold or underlining to prevent the information is lost among the rest of the text.

Although legal CVs often have a more traditional look, what legal firms prefer can still differ immensely; a multinational commercial firm might expect something different then a small solicitor’s office. Before tweaking your CV, it is important to get an impression of the firm.

Besides keeping in mind what kind of firm you are applying to, it is more important to decide what style suits you best. In the end, the CV represents you. Having a document that feels alien will not do you any good.

Cecile Koster