I am currently working with well-credentialed eight year litigator who has never moved law firms. This person has everything it takes to make partner but for various political reasons, he is unlikely to make partner. While this person has not been asked to leave the firm, this person knows now is the time to begin a search. It takes time – at least 6 months. Having never left the firm, the job search process is intimidating. I made the following suggestions for the resume:
1) If possible, limit your resume to 1 page -even at the senior level. The most information should be under your current employer.
2) Your resume should have the following in this order: Work Experience, education, professional credentials, publications, etc.
3) Create a thorough case history on a seperate page. If the case is public, put down the parties involved and then write a brief summary of the case and what you did. Any successful results obtained you be noted.
4) Get your law school transcript (there are some firms who ALWAYS require this – even at the partner level).
5) Get a writing sample. Motions that are 10-20 pages long are best.
6) Cut out the fat of a resume. It is not necessary to list law school externships, internships and clinics if it puts your resume over a page.
7) If you have an interests section, make sure they are either unique or show an important aspect in your personality. Saying you enjoy reading and watching movies doesn’t really add much. However, if you enjoy running or participating in a marathon or play an instrument, the reader immediately knows you have a competitive spirit and are somewhat disciplined. Keep out things like “spending time with my family” as this only makes the reader think that you do not want to spend much time with the law firm family. And, keep out oddball interests such as competitive hot-dog eating.
8) Political groups and interest – I really prefer to stay away from this all together. Unless you happen to know an organization or law firm you are applying to is well-known to support a particular group, just stay out of it. You could interview with someone who is a staunch democrat and you list you were the president of the Young Republican Organization in college….that really isn’t going to make the interviewer feel connected to you. If anything, it may start a fight.
9) Do not put your picture on your resume! No matter how good-looking you are, law firms poo-poo this. Many times, people are laughed at for putting their picture on the resume – even if it a good picture and a good resume. It makes you look vain. If you are emailing your resume to a law firm, you could put a link to your firm biography if it happens to have a picture, but do not do anything more!
10) List your cell phone number instead of your home phone (unless your cell phone is a work phone). You want to be able to answer your phone immediately in case a law firm would like to set up an interview or ask you a question about your resume.