Resume Template: Paralegal

Your resume is the first and most important professional document of your career.

So you’re ready to write your paralegal resume.

You already know that becoming a paralegal is no small feat.

You get to do all the work of a lawyer and only receive a percentage of the pay.

However, there are many perks to becoming a paralegal, even above being a lawyer.

Job prospects are expected to rise and exceed that of lawyers and you will have many job opportunities to pursue in different sectors.

If you are looking for a job as a paralegal, it is still essential to know that this is a field full of hard-working and intelligent individuals.

You will need to write a paralegal resume that gives you an edge above the competition and shows hiring managers that you are the most desirable candidate.

Understanding the ins and outs of resume writing is a must if you are going to make that happen.

If you’re ready, let’s get started!

Summary

  1. Resume Template
  2. Formatting
  3. Writing Your Resume Summary
  4. Areas of Expertise
  5. Writing Your Work Experience
  6. Writing Your Education Section
  7. Additional Sections
  8. Resume Points to Remember
  9. Resume “Don’ts” to Remember
  10. Some Helpful Tools

Let’s begin with a sample paralegal resume to demonstrate how all the resume pieces fit together. Then we will break each section down to really drill into how to write the best paralegal resume you possibly can.

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Paralegal Resume (Text Version)

Contact Info:

Jerome Shields
[email protected]
1 (718) 555-5500
New York, NY 10005

Summary Statement:

Paralegal: Bilingual paralegal with 10 years of applicable experience. Strong organizational skills, attention to detail, excellent proofreading skills, and the ability to work under pressure to complete tasks with a sense of urgency. Effective communicator with keen evaluation skills when completing trial preparations and drafting legal documents.

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • Personal Injury Law
  • Microsoft Office
  • LEXIS
  • Westlaw
  • WestKM
  • Accuracy
  • Diplomacy
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Fluent Spanish and English
  • Intermediate Mandarin
  • Adaptability
  • Critical Thinking
  • Investigative Skills

Professional Experience:

Rosenbaum and Rosenbaum | New York, NY
Legal Assistant | Apr 2016 – Present

  • Proactively secure billable work 15% more frequently than the company average
  • Draft routine maintenance, memoranda to file, and documents using internal templates
  • Coordinate with attorneys and office staff to ensure client materials are stored in EMF
  • Generate task-specific assignments and consistently ensure deadlines are met on time

Bulwark Interest Group | Brooklyn, NY
Legal Secretary | Sept 2013 – Apr 2016

  • Outlined contracts with accurate and timely preparation, review, and editing
  • Maintained databases to ensure proper documentation handling and retention
  • Performed due diligence in reviewing and interpreting contracts to ensure compliance

Wilkins Personal Injury Firm | New York, NY
Junior Paralegal | June 2010 – Aug 2013

  • Assisted the firm’s attorneys in managing a high volume of litigation matters
  • Designed pleadings, legal memoranda, settlement agreements, and other documents
  • Communicated with clients and opposing counsel
  • Responsible for client intake, organizing, and record keeping

Education/Certifications

Bachelor Degree | Paralegal
Certification | National Association of Legal Assistants

New York City College of Technology
Class of 2010

Formatting

When writing your paralegal resume, the first thing to consider should always come down to formatting.

Regardless of how impressive a candidate you might be, the format of a resume is the first thing your reader is going to notice.

A great resume format will draw your reader’s eye to the most beneficial information without distracting from a clear and consistent flow.

Start with selecting a legible font that is easy to read at a glance.

With a clear font and proper spacing in between lines and sections of text, you should be able to create a document that appears neat and professional.

Utilizing bullet points to split up topics will allow for more spacing between important details in your resume.

The separation will also help your more significant talking points stand out on the page to grab your reader’s attention.

Hiring managers only spend around 6 seconds reviewing each resume they take a look at, which means you need to impress them quickly.

Don’t waste time getting to the point – always list your most impressive accomplishments and skills first.

Reverse chronological order is the most common way to list your accomplishments and work history so that your most recent and relevant experience comes first.

Following just a few formatting basics will put your resume ahead of the curve and will allow you to have a better shot at an interview.

Start With Your Resume Summary

The first section of your paralegal resume should serve as a brief introduction along with some stand out details that support your ability to fill the desired position.

A resume summary that is about two to three sentences long should be able to get everything started.

When writing your summary, start by asking yourself a few general questions:

“What skills and abilities do capable and talented paralegals have?”

“What are my greatest areas of strength as a paralegal in relation to those abilities?”

Once you have answered those questions, you can narrow down what details are the most crucial to incorporate when introducing yourself.

Yes!

Bilingual paralegal with 10 years of applicable experience. Strong organizational skills, attention to detail, excellent proofreading skills, and the ability to work under pressure to complete tasks with a sense of urgency. Effective communicator with keen evaluation skills when completing trial preparations and drafting legal documents.

No!

Paralegal with applicable experience, apt skills, and a strong ability to work under pressure. Strong and effective communicator with great evaluation skills.

The “Yes!” example lends specific details fortifying the candidate’s qualifications, unique abilities, and knowledge of the field.

The “No!” example lists little to no specifics and fails to provide the adequate information necessary to pique the interest of their reader.

PRO TIP: If you aren’t sure what details are best to include in your resume summary, you can always skip this section and come back to it. Sometimes writing your work experience and qualifications sections first helps to sort out what details are most important to lead with.

Key Accomplishments/ Skills & Qualifications

Now that you have taken the time to describe yourself in a few sentences, it is imperative to provide a section that is a bit more to the point.

When hiring managers look at a resume, they want to know right away if you meet the job requirements that they are looking for a candidate to fulfill.

Including a section that lists your skills and qualifications regarding the position you are after is critical in holding a hiring manager’s attention.

When writing this section of your paralegal resume, make sure that you are considering both hard skills and soft skills.

Hard skills:

  • Teachable
  • Practicable
  • Easy to Quantify
  • Technical

Soft skills:

  • Personality Traits
  • Subjective
  • Harder to Quantify
  • Innate
  • Not necessarily teachable

Both skills types are essential to working as a paralegal.

While you need to have technical knowledge specific to the legal field, a personable, intelligent, and driven candidate is also always desirable.

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • Personal Injury Law
  • Microsoft Office
  • LEXIS
  • Westlaw
  • WestKM
  • Accuracy
  • Diplomacy
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Fluent Spanish and English
  • Intermediate Mandarin
  • Adaptability
  • Critical Thinking
  • Investigative Skills

PRO TIP: Always reference the job posting when writing your paralegal resume to make sure that you are tailoring it around the requirements of each position. Adjusting your resume to fit the needs of each firm or company you are applying to is crucial in making sure they know you are a compatible candidate.

Writing Your Work Experience

The section of your paralegal resume that typically commands the most attention is your work experience.

Hiring managers look to this section to not only see where you have been but also to know what you are capable of doing.

It is important when writing this section to always write your bullet points in a way that relates to the position you are after.

Each job you include in this section of your paralegal resume should list three to five bullet points describing various tasks and accomplishments you have completed in your past work.

Selecting jobs that are relevant to working as a paralegal is important in creating a section that promotes your capabilities for the job you are trying to obtain and not just the positions you’ve already filled.

Listing your previous work in reverse chronological order is the most common way to format this section of your resume.

However, always use your best judgment when deciding what jobs are most relevant to include.

Yes!

Rosenbaum and Rosenbaum | New York, NY | Legal Assistant | Apr 2016 – Present

  • Proactively secure billable work 15% more frequently than the company average
  • Draft routine maintenance, memoranda to file, and documents using internal templates
  • Coordinate with attorneys and office staff to ensure client materials are stored in EMF
  • Generate task-specific assignments and consistently ensure deadlines are met on time

No!

Rosenbaum and Rosenbaum | New York, NY | Legal Assistant | Apr 2016 – Present

  • Secure billable work
  • Draft routine maintenance
  • Make sure client materials are stored
  • Generate task-specific assignments

The “Yes!” example lists specific details regarding how the candidate carried out and completed tasks and how they created a positive impact for their firm.

The “No!” example lists minimal details, drawing attention away from the candidate’s contributions to the position.

PRO TIP: List quantifying and qualifying details for each bullet point in your work experience section. Including specifics creates a more memorable description of who you are and what you are capable of as a paralegal.

(If you lack work experience, see below for a helpful section.)

What are bots?

While writing your paralegal resume, you should always consider the process of review it will go through after you submit it.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), or bots, are systems designed to review resumes for a company to narrow them down before a hiring manager takes a look.

When a bot reviews a resume, it searches it for specific keywords related to the position to decide whether or not the candidate has good potential.

If a resume meets the requirements, it will be flagged for further review by a hiring manager, and if it doesn’t, it is generally tossed out.

While this might sound intimidating, as long as you are intentional about your wording, your paralegal resume is sure to impress a bot.

Some resume experts recommend writing your job descriptions in paragraphs instead of bullet points to include more keywords.

Standard bullet point format:

Bulwark Interest Group | Brooklyn, NY | Legal Secretary | Sept 2013 – Apr 2016

  • Outlined contracts with accurate and timely preparation, review, and editing
  • Maintained databases to ensure proper documentation handling and retention
  • Performed due diligence in reviewing and interpreting contracts to ensure compliance

Paragraph format:

Quantum Dynamics | Brooklyn, NY | Legal Secretary | June 2013 – Feb 2016

Outlined contracts with accurate and timely preparation, review, and editing. Maintained databases and other internal contract management systems to ensure proper documentation handling and retention. Performed due diligence in reviewing and interpreting contracts to ensure compliance.

Paragraph format w/ bullet points:

Bulwark Interest Group | Brooklyn, NY | Legal Secretary | Sept 2013 – Apr 2016

Outlined contracts with accurate and timely preparation, review, and editing. Maintained databases and other internal contract management systems to ensure proper documentation handling and retention. Performed due diligence in reviewing and interpreting contracts to ensure compliance.

  • Reported directly to 5 lawyers
  • Reduced administrative expenses by 15%

Keep in mind that it is still possible to use an adequate amount of keywords when writing with bullet points.

At Big Interview, we believe it is best to stick with bullet points so that when your resume gets through a bot, it appears neat and professional for human reviewers.

Writing Your Education Section

The education section of your paralegal resume, while important, should be kept simple and to the point.

List your degrees in order of relevance and impressiveness.

For each degree, include the full title of the degree, the year of graduation, and the school you attended.

You can include additional certifications or licenses in this section as well, or put those details in a separate section directly preceding or following your education section.

Example:

Education/Certifications

Bachelor Degree | Paralegal
Certification | National Association of Legal Assistants
New York City College of Technology
Class of 2010

Certified Paralegal
National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)

Possible Sections to Include

If you have accomplishments and qualifications to include in your paralegal resume that don’t fit in the previously discussed sections, it is acceptable to incorporate an additional section to go over those details.

Some additional sections to consider including are:

  • Awards and honors
  • Publications
  • Noteworthy Projects
  • Social Media Influence
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Volunteer Work

Writing Your Resume Without Experience?

Everyone has to start somewhere.

While this is a somewhat cliche statement, it is undoubtedly true.

If you are just graduating or switching fields and don’t have any legal experience to work with on your paralegal resume, you might find yourself lost on how to fill in the gaps.

Start with focusing on the experience you do have, starting with your education.

Move your education section up just below your summary so that it can command more attention.

Add in details regarding academic achievements like a high GPA, honors, awards, or specific coursework.

Including details that show you were a hard-working and intelligent student can prove that while you might lack experience, you make up for it in drive and natural ability.

If you have any internships or volunteer work to include those details can go a long way.

Often, the best way to get your foot in the door is to prove yourself by starting out with unpaid opportunities.

Stay persistent, and you will quickly rise above the ranks.

Resume Points to Remember

Powerful wording

Begin each bullet point with a strong and unique power word. When writing your job descriptions, it is important to show hiring managers that you are capable and well versed. The diction you choose – especially the word you lead off with will set the tone for your resume.

Be yourself

While it is vital to create a resume that shows how compatible a candidate you are, don’t sacrifice your honesty. Play to your strengths and build them up with strong wording and efficient formatting.

Do your research

When writing your resume, make sure that you read up on the job posting and company/firm you are applying to. The best way to land a role is to focus on the points in which you meet their needs and fit in well with their company. You won’t know what those similarities are until you read up.

Try to Avoid

Generalities

While a resume should be kept short, this is no time to skimp on all the details. Including quantifying and qualifying details to describe your work ethic and outcomes of your labor are essential in painting a complete picture of who you are as a candidate.

Two-pages

Being specific, yet not rambling on, is all about the art of balance. Know what details are important and know when to let things go. Keep your resume neatly on one page and do not go on to a second. Hiring managers only want to know what is most important and nothing else.

Rushing to the finish

After you write your resume, take the time to read through it, and make revisions. Don’t rush this step in the process, because it is often the difference between a silly mistake that could cost you an interview and your next big break.

(See below for a helpful table of some suggested power words.)

Helpful Tools:

Paralegal Resume Power Words

  • Administered
  • Founded
  • Adept
  • Formulated
  • Built
  • Implemented
  • Created
  • Improved
  • Consolidated
  • Initiated
  • Coordinated
  • Launched
  • Developed
  • Pioneered
  • Designed
  • Organized

Paralegal Resume Skills List

Hard Skills Soft Skills
LEXIS Adaptability
Personal Injury Law Diplomacy
WestKM Investigative Skills
Fluent Spanish and English Accuracy
Billing Software (Elite) Adaptability
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