CV Review for an Overseas Law Student
in Careers Advice, CV Writing

CV Review for an Overseas Law Student

Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides free CV reviews (at our discretion), provided you are happy for your CV to be posted on the internet with our advice.

This is a review for an overseas law student from South Africa.

South_African_Lawyer_CV

First Impressions:

Very clear format and easy to read font. Good use of bold and capitals and different font size to emphasize sections.

I like the way you have set your CV out but one thing I would say about structuring the CV in columns is that potential employers can have a tendency to ignore the left hand column and stick to reading the bulk of the CV so anything in the left hand column may get a bit lost. It is because you need to scroll up and down to read the 2 columns as difficult to read simultaneously. Also, occasionally columns do lead to formatting problems and they can be a bit of a nightmare for recruiters if we want to change your CV into a Word format rather than a PDF file.

Also, because most CVs are sent electronically these days it is no longer true that CVs have to be 2 pages long. CVs of 3  or 4 pages are more common especially with candidates with a lengthy working history. You might find it easier to rejig your CV and spread it over 3 pages. It would mean you can add more detail (see below) and perhaps mean you don’t have to use columns.

Personal Details:

I presume your first name is Nxxx. Convention is to put your first name before your surname (especially important with names that may be less familiar in the UK). At the moment someone reading your CV would read your name as [ ] Nxxxx so you need to switch this around. I would also leave off your preferred/nickname and save this for interview or in a covering email.

Although your contact details are on your CV which is good, I noticed that you hadn’t put your address on. If you are UK based applying for a UK job I would advise to include at least the town/city that you are based in – otherwise potential employers may assume you are overseas and overlook your application in favour of someone more locally based.

Personal Profile:

The aim of a personal profile is so that anyone reading your CV can see from a quick glance exactly what you are and what your career plans are. This does come over more or less but I think because you have bullet pointed your profile and fitted it into a side column you have been restricted in what you can write.. Hence, you have abbreviated advertising to ad which takes away some of the clarity. I’d also put this as the first point as it is who you are.

Secondly regarding the first bullet point – again because you have restricted the wording, grammatically it doesn’t sound right. Also, you haven’t made the change to commercial law yet but reading this I would assume that you already work in commercial law which can create confusion when reading your work experience section. You need to make it clear that it is your aim to change from marketing to commercial law. It may mean adding in a few words or perhaps moving your personal profile from a side column to the main part of your CV.

We always advise that a CV should be factual and objective and to avoid making subjective statements such as “good team player, high energy” as there is no proof of this and anyone could write this whether they are or not. Also I don’t think you need to put you are a runner in your personal profile. Keep this for an Interests section.

Education:

This is generally fine. A few points:

I would put on that you have passed the GDL.

If you did a particular interesting dissertation or any modules with a legal leaning in your Marketing degree could mention.

Various Creative Short Courses: Don’t need to bullet point “Explored creative mind set whilst working full time” as it is a whole sentence so should be on the same line. Also, given these are not relevant to a legal career but that you did them purely as interests I probably would not put them under your education section but leave the education section to qualifications relevant to your marketing and legal career. I’d leave the TESOL course on though– that is fine.

You don’t put a reason as to why you only did 2 years of your initial law degree – I’m sure employers will pick up on this. I’d either not mention on your CV that you only did 2 years or put a reason on. Also you could consider putting your 1st/2nd year results in if they were 2:1 standard or above.

Legal and Work Experience

It is excellent that you have thought to put your legal experience first. This is what we would advise. Because you are wanting to move into the legal sector this section carries more weight than your commercial work experience in a way so I would advise going into more details as to what you did exactly during each of the internship, your pro bono work and while you were a campus ambassador. What law areas were you involved in? Any notable cases you were helping with? What exactly did you do during each placement? Also the reader may not know that Legal Cheek is a blog so you need to clarify this as well.

If you look at your commercial experience you will notice that you have wrote far more for your marketing internship than your legal ones. You need to switch this around now given your career change. With regards your commercial experience, I think with some of your earlier roles (shop manager, waitress role, internships) you need to cut down on the detail to leave more room on your CV for other sections and to take the emphasis off these roles as they are now not relevant to your career. A one line description would be sufficient.

With regards to your recent role I like how you have incorporated some commercial law aspects by mentioning IP – any other legal areas you could emphasise? Data protection issues and GDPR springs to mind.

Languages:

Good although I would suggest renaming this section “Additional Skills” and also include any computer packages, software you use, plus your driving license if you have one.

Leadership and Awards:

There is nothing wrong with this per se but I would question the relevancy to a legal career of most of this. You mentioned in the main content of your CV that you were a Team Leader for COVID19 so repetition. I definitely wouldn’t put on that your were on the student council at high school or the school hockey captain – it is too long ago now and is a bit like writing you’ve got your swim certificate given where you are in your career. Again your award for cultural achievement in high school is too long ago and not relevant.

Interests:

This is good – the right amount of detail and makes you look interesting.

Additional Courses:

Again I would question the relevance of listing these on your CV when you are aiming for a legal career. It can have the effect of making potential employers question your seriousness of a career change and wonder whether you are going to change again and move into the creative sector. It may be better putting some of this into your interests section such as the jewellery making and pattern making to make it clear it is a hobby only. Again, you have already mentioned writing in your interests section so perhaps mention a couple of the writing courses within that section.

References:

Fine as it is or could consider actually listing 2 references with names, who they are and contact details. I would suggest one reference should be from a recent employer and the other reference would be good to have from one of your legal placements.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk