Are you a law firm attorney applying for an in-house position? 
Are you an in-house attorney that wishes to transition to a law firm? 
Are you a law student that is just trying to get your foot in the door to a legal position?

As a legal recruiter, I receive many generic resumes that are not applicable to the post they’re applying for.  Sure, they are attorneys, but that is where the connection ends. I must dig deep to find transferable skills – frankly, I do not want to work that hard!

One resume does not fit all jobs. Customizing your resume to the type of position is essential to highlight the specific skills, experiences, and qualities that each type of employer values.

Here are some key points to consider:

Resume for a Law Firm Position:

Emphasis on Legal Specialization:

  •  Law firms often seek specialists in specific practice areas. Tailor your resume to highlight expertise in areas relevant to the law firm’s practice. You may need to reorder your experience so that the most applicable practice experience is at the top of your job descriptions. 

Client Interaction and Business Development:

  • Emphasize experience in client interaction, business development, and building a legal practice. Law firms often value attorneys who can show evidence of business development efforts and contributions to the overall growth to the firm’s bottomline.

Give specific examples:

  • The size of M&A deals, level of courtroom experience, types of contracts, and involvement with firm operations and culture (e.g. recruiting committee service, mentoring, professional development) will define your level of expertise and differentiate you from other candidates.  Obviously, any client information should be redacted. 

Career objective:

  • Consider adding a Career objective at the top of your resume.  Career objectives can accomplish clarification on your overall career goals and reason for applying to the job, particularly if your experience does not directly align.


  • List any relevant coursework or CLE’s that demonstrate your interest in the subject matter.  Always include any academic awards received and which courses those were received in.

Resume for an In-House Position:

If you are a law firm attorney that wishes to make a move to an in-house position, your resume will need an entirely different approach. The focus is no longer how you practice law, it is how you will contribute to the organization’s business objectives. 

Business Acumen:

  • In-house positions often require a broader understanding of business operations. Highlight experiences that demonstrate your ability to integrate legal advice with overall business strategy.

Collaboration and Communication:

  • Emphasize your communication and collaboration skills. In-house attorneys frequently work closely with non-legal departments, so highlighting your ability to work with diverse teams is crucial.

Risk Management:

  • Stress your ability to identify and manage legal risks. In-house attorneys are often involved in proactive risk management to prevent legal issues from arising.

Regulatory Compliance:

  • Highlight experience with regulatory compliance, as in-house attorneys often need to ensure that the company is adhering to relevant laws and regulations.

Negotiation and Contract Drafting:

  • Highlight negotiation skills and experience in drafting and reviewing contracts. In-house attorneys commonly handle various contractual matters.

Industry Knowledge:

  • If applicable, emphasize any industry-specific knowledge that may be relevant to the company’s operations. In-house roles often require a deep understanding of the industry in which the company operates.

General Tips:

Tailor for Each Application:

 Customize your resume for each position, emphasizing the skills and experiences most relevant to the specific role and employer.

Highlight Transferable Skills:

  •   Identify and emphasize transferable skills that are valuable in both law firm and in-house settings, such as legal research, analytical thinking, and attention to detail.

Taking the time to customize your resume to the position in which you are applying will open more doors for your career.  It is worth the time and effort, and who knows – your dream job could be discovered as a result! 

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