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Professional Resume Format for Paralegals

published February 26, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
Published By
( 116 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Let us consider some essential items to be included in your resume, regardless of the final format you choose.
Professional Resume Format for Paralegals

1) Personal Information
  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number

The above items are the only ones that you are required to provide by law. This information should be included at the top of your resume where it will be readily seen.

Do not include the entry titles, such as Name, Address, and Area Code and Telephone Number, when you give this information. Do not list formal titles here or any nicknames. Such informality may demonstrate friendliness but not professionalism.

In your address, list the place where you can be contacted when you send out your resume.

Be sure to include a telephone number at which you are certain someone is available to answer calls. If you are listing an out-of-town number, explain in your cover letter that you will call the potential employer. As a job applicant, you should not expect a potential employer to pay the costs of a long-distance telephone call. Indicate the specific time you will call, and then do so. If you cannot be available to answer your phone, ask someone to do it for you, use an answering machine with a professional message, or arrange to use voice mail.

2) Career Objective

Many feel that stating a job or career objective on a resume locks them into one specific area and that they should leave all their options open by writing a general resume. Others feel that career objectives often sound too contrived, although that need not be so. A Career objective is optional, but if you decide to include it, make sure it work for you.

Employers are looking for people with specific skills, and a brief career objective can indicate that you are a person who has a clear idea of where you are going. A career objective, therefore, could be helpful if it fulfills a purpose. It should focus on what you think you can and would like to do, Based on your skills and qualifications. It need not be lengthy, but it should add something to your resume; otherwise, omit the category. If you choose to include it, the examples below should be helpful.
  • An entry-level paralegal position offering increasing responsibilities and opportunities in real estate or land development.
  • A challenging paralegal position that would enable me to use my intensive generalist training and legal research skills, as well as my diverse academic and employment background.
  • A challenging litigation paralegal position that will utilize my knowledge of computer database systems.

3) Summary of Skills and Qualifications or Highlights

Although the category Summary of Skills and Qualifications is also optional, it can serve a useful function. It clearly focuses those skills and qualifications you have developed over the years, so that an employer can readily see how they relate to a paralegal position. It can also help you pull together various types of experiences you may have developed in several different types of jobs.

The statement at the beginning of the resume can help a potential employer immediately recognize what you have to offer as an employee.

Summary of Skills and Qualifications: Extensive experience in varied settings has enabled me to develop strong communication skills, specifically research, writing, and verbal and interpersonal communication. My organizational and detail-oriented background should prove to be an asset in a paralegal position.

Highlights, as the term implies, point up your strongest, most marketable traits.

Highlights; Strong organizational and communication skills, combined with intensive paralegal training and experience in varied legal and non-legal settings, have provided me with the necessary qualifications to perform at high-level capacity.

Review your own highlights and determine if they will attract the attention of an employer in a summary statement. If you decide to omit this entry, you should still review your qualifications, so that you can include your most marketable qualifications in your cover letter.

4) Education

The section on education is usually the first major category in a paralegal's resume, particularly for an entry-level position, unless there is a reason to include it as the last category. For the most part, however, an employer will want to see your education, background, and training immediately. Describe your education, beginning with your paralegal training, where you received it, when you received it, and your specialty, if you had one. Not all programs have been approved by the American Bar Association. If your program does have ABA approval or if it is a graduate-level certificate program, be certain to include that information. If it is not ABA approved but follows ABA guidelines, you can include that. Depending on the space you have, you may wish to include specific courses or the number of hours of training. Be certain, however, that you do include the significant essential information that clearly indicates that you are a trained paralegal. The resume samples that follow illustrate how you can list all of this information briefly but completely.

Review these resume samples to determine how you wish to present your material. Use reverse chronological order, giving the most current information first and then working backward. Include important details such as the curriculum used (specialty or generalist program), computer training, or other relevant information you would like to emphasize.

If you have not attended college, make certain that you focus on your particular achievements in high school that reveal important qualifications. Did you participate in organizations that required specific skills such as thinking on your feet, communicating ideas, or expressing yourself with clarity and persuasiveness? Special projects (at school or within the community) or part-time jobs also demonstrate commitment, initiative, and responsibility.

If you attended college, include where you went, your degree, and your major and minor, if relevant. Avoid listing months and any other details that will clutter your resume. Do include special awards or honors, as well as your grade point average if it reflects your academic achievement.

Should you include your graduate degree or graduate study? Or will this "over qualify" you for an entry-level position? Think of all the important skills and the overall background you have developed. The issue is how to include this information so that it becomes an advantage for you. If an employer feels that you will always be dissatisfied or leave when something better comes along, impressive qualifications could disqualify you.

5) Work Experience

This category may just as easily be entitled Work History, Employment Record, Professional Experience, or any other title that is descriptive of the employment information you are about to list.

In this section, it is important for you to tell where you worked, the dates (years), your title, and what you did on the job. Do not omit dates. Employers will want to verify where you worked and when. It is also essential for you to proofread your final resume carefully for the accuracy of dates. A typographical error has actually cost some applicants the job! Do not distinguish part-time from full-time jobs, or paid from unpaid volunteer work. You may wish to group summer jobs or jobs held while in school that helped to finance your education.

Include all of your jobs, and indicate what skills you developed, skills that could strengthen you as a candidate for a paralegal position. If you have not had extensive job experience, you may include skills developed in your college activities or volunteer work. Internships may be included in this section if your work experience is limited; otherwise, you may include internships under the Education category.

If you wish to deemphasize dates of employment, particularly if you have been out of the job market for some years, you may wish to use a functional format, one in which skills are emphasized in clusters and dates are listed at the end of the resume. Examine the resume samples which use this format if you think it could be appropriate for you.

6) Other Categories

Other categories on your resume may be optional. If you have special honors or awards, include them, so an employer can identify you as someone with unique talents and achievements. If you have been involved in community activities, a category may be included to indicate the level of responsibility and skills you have developed.
  • If you have military service, include it as a separate category.
  • If you have strong computer skills, technical skills, or special language proficiencies, be certain to include them.

Remember that your resume is your professional profile, so think of the person who will be reading it. Does your resume reflect what you have done and are capable of doing? Have you focused on your skills and accomplishments? That is what employers look for.

7) References

As your final entry, simply list the statement: References available upon request.

It is not appropriate to include a list of your references. You may be asked to include them on a job application, or in your cover letter you may include someone in the organization who knows you and has referred you to this position. It is also a good idea to take a list of references to the job interview and leave them with the interviewer, if it seems appropriate for you do so. And remember, always ask your references for permission to use their names and indicate that they may be contacted.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit

published February 26, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 116 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.