in Careers Advice, CV Writing

CV Review for Newly Qualified Solicitor

CV-Review-NQ-Solicitor-Free-CV-Review

First impression:

Nicely laid out with a good use of bold, headings and capital letters to highlight and divide the different section. Your use of bullet points is effective and the font is clear, a good size and easy to read.

It used to be the case that CVs were restricted to 2 pages but this is when we generally sent everything via the post. These days with the majority of correspondence done online this need has become irrelevant so good to see you have used a sensible amount of space. Three to 4 pages is a good length at your stage of your career. Bottom line, don’t feel you need to restrict what you write unless it is a load of waffle!

Personal details:

Good to see this section clearly laid out at the top of your CV.

We are seeing more and more CVs with a link to candidates LinkedIn profile so definitely worth adding on like you have. Just adds an extra smidge of professionalism and makes you look social media savvy.

Personal Profile:

This  should be 2 or 3 sentences to say what you are (i.e whether paralegal or solicitor), what fields of law you have experience in and what role you are looking for/future ambition. Don’t need any more than that really. Keep it objective though . We see a lot of CVs using subjective language things like “an ambitious, team player with excellent communications skills” but I would advise using phrases like this. Anyone can say things like this but doesn’t mean it is true. Save subjective statements for interview where you can back them up with evidence.

I’d probably advise stating the year you qualified in your personal profile so something like “A 2021 qualified solicitor…” – has the advantage that you don’t have to keep altering the CV and firms can immediately see how much PQE you have.

With regards the role you seek – I am presuming at your stage like many NQs there are a number of areas of law you might want to go into so in that case tailor your CV according to the role you apply for. For example, is you apply for a property role state that you are “seeking a role in property law to further your career” etc.

Education:

To add a little colour and interest to what can be a dry, rather boring section you could add in your LPC electives if relevant to your career and add in your degree dissertation title if interesting. Makes for an easy interview question as well. You can also put in any modules that you did particularly well in with the percentage awarded for the module. Again worth doing if relevant to role you apply for and again as with above section you could even tailor what modules to include according to the role you apply for.

All to give the impression that you have always been keen to go into whichever area of law the role is in.

Rest of section is fine although I would just add in the location of your schools.

Work Experience:

I like that you have broken this section up into a separate Legal Experience and Commercial Experience which we always advise to do.

This section is a good length with plenty of details in each role. You have also given the most space to your current role which is what we would advise. I like your use of subheadings (position, areas of practice, etc) to break up the section and make it clearer to read.

The bulk of what you have written is good and I wouldn’t particularly change anything that you have written.

What I would consider is under the company name is to write a couple of sentences to explain who the company are who you worked for, especially for your current role (I wouldn’t bother with every role or it will just make your CV too long). Would be useful to have a couple of sentences to indicate size of firm in terms of number of partners and turnover as well as main areas of practice of the firm i.e if they are predominantly company commercial or a high street law firm, whether they are particular know for a specific area within this such as  family, conveyancing etc.

Also worth mentioning if any of the the firms are members of the Magic Circle or Legal 500. Can stick it after their name in the heading.

Make sure you include a location for every role – writing “London” would do – don’t need a full address.

What I would like to see is some facts & figures for each role – things to suggest would be: your size of caseload, size of contractual disputes/litigation matters, value of conveyances, value of family cases (high net worth etc), any cost savings you made within the company or for clients. Also, name some of your commercial clients is able.

Potential things you can consider adding to a CV as you progress through a career:

Notable cases –  e.g Kramer v. Kramer and a brief outline of the case and outcome Notable achievements – things like you increased turnover by 50 % for your department,  set up a new case management system or introduced a new cost saving protocol for a firm, or you were named employee of the year etc Quotes/Positive feedback from satisfied clients/employers – we have seen a few CVs with this on and adds a nice touch. You do need to state who said it and who they were to make it authentic and not look like you’ve made it up.

Of course this will increase the length of your CV but you can compensate for this by probably taking out your commercial experience section now as not really relevant. Likewise with your first legal volunteering and intern roles might be something to remove so you concentrate on your main roles that you have had if you think your CV is getting overlong but as I said earlier unless it is waffle don’t worry too much about length.

Leadership and Volunteer Activities:

Nothing wrong with this section. Nicely laid out, a good length and interesting to read.

Interests:

Candidates don’t seem to put a lot of effort into this section. I don’t know whether this is because they assume it is irrelevant or that they think no-one will read this section. Most CVs we see either miss this section off or it contain a few words. However, it is actually quite important for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is a way of adding some colour to your CV and a way of making you stand out from the crowd especially if you have an unusual or particularly impressive interest.

Secondly, it is a way of showing you are a rounded individual and have a life outside work.

Thirdly, you just never know  but if the person reading it shares a similar interest or is so intrigued by what you have written that it might get you an interview.

If I were you I would bullet point this section as will make it clearer to read and make each interest stand out. And I’d probably think about adding a sentence or 2 for each interest.

The food business is really quite interesting and would be something I think a potential employer might pick up on at interview even if just as an icebreaker. Have you got a name for the business? What type of food? How many clients do you supply to? How often do you supply? Making a profit or for charity?

Re: Pilates and running – fine – if you have entered any races recently (obviously prior to pandemic) can put this down. Do you/did you attend a Pilates class?

Volunteering abroad/teaching English: when and where?

Finally, couple of sections that you should put on a CV:

Additional skills

This section could include any languages you speak at a reasonably high level and degree of fluency), IT skills including any specific legal software packages, case management systems, legal databases you use, driving license.

References:

If you have 2 references lined up put their names, organisation they worked for, job title and contact details on your CV. One should be ideally from one of your most recent assignments.

Or it is acceptable to write “Available on request”

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