So, you’ve completed your law degree after years of hard work and are now a fully qualified solicitor.

The next step of your journey is going to be exciting, but first, you need to start the process of applying for jobs – which is probably unchartered territory at this stage.

Law is a particularly competitive job market and there will be numerous high-quality candidates applying for each job. Therefore, an effective, well-written and achievement-focused CV is essential to landing an interview.

Here are some of the key do’s and don’ts for an NQ solicitor CV:


Do: Go into detail

As a newly qualified solicitor, you’re unlikely to have much relevant work experience to refer to, but what you can do is go into detail regarding your training and the seats undertaken during your placement.

Drawing upon this experience is a great way to demonstrate your specialisms and show recruiters that you’ve already gained extensive experience. This, in turn, will prove your ability to perform the role to a high standard.

Trainees who show greater competency will often be trusted with more responsibilities on their placements, so don’t be afraid to go into in depth detail about the work you delivered.


Do: Quantify your achievements

Recruiters will be looking out for impressive achievements which set you apart from other candidates. Therefore, do make sure that these stand out – often, using bullet points is the best way to go about it.

To really prove your impact, you should also quantify each achievement. Use metrics to show your impact – this could be numbers, values, percentages or timeframes.

For example, working to deadlines is a key requirement for solicitors. Describing your experience in meeting tight deadlines, and quantifying it by including timeframes, is sure to impress recruiters.


Don’t: Underestimate structure and format

Sometimes you can be so keen to get all your achievements and experience into your NQ solicitor CV, that you neglect the importance of structure and format.

Remember that most recruiters will be receiving huge volumes of high-quality applications and will generally scan-read your CV in the first instance – why not make it easy for them to do so?

Format your CV in a way that makes the document scannable and helps key information, skills and achievements stand out. Refer to CV templates that show the most effective ways to format your CV and use bold text and bullets to draw attention to the most important areas.

Breaking your CV up into tidy sections, ensuring there’s white space between them, can also make it more readable.


Don’t: Recycle your CV

Want to immediately put a recruiter off your application? Well, just use a generic CV that is not tailored to the role.

If you’re applying for multiple similar jobs, you may believe that they won’t be able to tell. But the truth is, interview-winning CV’s are always tailored around the specific job specification and the firm being applied to.

To do this, figure out what experiences, skills and achievements are most relevant to the job in question and adapt your CV accordingly. Never recycle an existing CV for different roles.

By following these newly qualified solicitor CV do’s and don’ts, you’ll be able to significantly increase your chances of gaining a face-to-face interview and landing your first ever job as a solicitor.


Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.


Want more advice on your CV? Download our helpful CV guide below: 

What Law Firms Look For in a CV

What Law Firms Look For in a CV

Making a strong first impression can seem difficult, especially for fresh graduates. More often than not, an employer’s first impression will come from reviewing your CV. In partnership with Lawyer Monthly, Joanne Startup MCIPD, HR Business Partner at Langleys...

Legal Jargon – Plain English or Utter Drivel?

Legal Jargon – Plain English or Utter Drivel?

We recently caught up with the Institute of Legal Secretaries (ILSPA) to discover if legal jargon is plain English - or utter drivel! Here is what they said:   As the legal profession is one that benefits from clear communication, it is surprising how the...

Developing Skills for Success

Developing Skills for Success

We recently caught up with the Institute of Legal Secretaries (ILSPA) to discover how you can develop skills for success. Some of these skills are not exclusive to law, and you may already possess strengths in these areas. If you identify a skill that you need to work...

Where to Find Work Experience in Law

Where to Find Work Experience in Law

One of the most difficult parts of launching any career is gaining the crucial experience that will let you land that first job. This is made even more difficult in a competitive field like law, with all the pressures of a global health crisis to complicate things,...

Tips for Starting a Law Career in 2021

Tips for Starting a Law Career in 2021

Navigating the jobs market has never been easy, especially for those just starting to break into their field of choice. Now, with the country labouring under a historic pandemic, the prospect of kicking off a career seems daunting. But what can aspiring legal...

Share This