In their latest guest post for TotallyLegal, the experts at Lunaria Partners explain how your retail and hospitality work experience can be utilised on your Paralegal CV.
I know what you are thinking… hospitality and retail are not relevant to a Paralegal job, why would I put them on my CV?
Now, if you have 3 years’ Litigation Paralegal experience and you are applying to a Litigation Paralegal role, you should absolutely focus on that, and your retail experience from 4 years ago probably isn’t going to be so relevant.
However, if due to the pandemic, you are one of the many graduates that have struggled to secure that elusive Paralegal role and your only paid work experience is in retail or hospitality, this is your guide on how to celebrate this experience and use it to your advantage!
Firstly, let’s look at what skills law firms are looking for…
Employers aren’t necessarily looking for someone with the exact technical skills for entry level roles, but they are looking for someone who can demonstrate a number of skills that show the right aptitude and attitude. These include:
Adaptable communication skills
In a Paralegal role you will be interacting with Partners, Associates, Trainees, other Paralegals, Secretaries and in some cases also clients. Often you will be working in a high pressure or time sensitive environment, so the ability to adapt your communication style and provide an excellent standard of customer service is paramount.
Partners, Associates, Trainees, Paralegals, Secretaries and legal Administrators all need to work together as a team to provide a good service to the client. It is a skill to be able to work as part of a team and working in a team in a different environment will transfer across well.
The demands of a Paralegal role can be varied and a “get your sleeves rolled up and muck in” attitude is what teams will be looking for. Some days you may be doing hands on legal work, but other days may require you to spend the day filing, therefore flexibility is key.
Attention to detail
This is one of the most important skills a Paralegal must have. For example, preparing bundles for court may involve collating bundles which are hundreds of pages long and you may need to create identical copies. You will need to look out for anomalies when searching through thousands of documents to find the relevant information. This requires excellent attention to detail as one small mistake can cost your client hugely.
Deadlines are incredibly important in legal roles. If you miss them then the whole matter or deal can fall through. You may be completing work for more than one Partner so managing your time effectively is key.
Now, let’s look at what a retail or hospitality role involves
You will be dealing with a whole range of people every day (communication skills - tick) and you will be working in a team (teamwork - tick) often having to change shift to cover a colleague, or move from the till to the shop floor (flexibility - tick). Maybe you are stock taking or had an awkward customer who wanted their sauce on the side (attention to detail - tick), and you’ve had to juggle this role alongside studying (time management - tick).
Hopefully this gives you confidence in how relevant your hospitality or retail experience is!
How do you put this on your Paralegal CV?
Thinking of it as a two-step approach on each bullet point should help with this:
1. What was the task or duty?
2. What skill did you learn from it?
Developed strong communication and customer service skills dealing with and serving customers on a daily basis
Used strong attention to detail to manage the stock taking process
You can also add any praise you received, or achievements where you have gone above and beyond:
Developed strong communication and customer service skills dealing with and serving customers on a daily basis. Achieved top marks from mystery shoppers and was awarded a bonus based on this.
Used strong attention to detail managing the stock taking process. Developed a new process which reduced errors and sped up the process.
Hopefully you are feeling more confident that your retail and hospitality experience (or similar) is relevant and are ready to edit your CV!
Lunaria Partners are a specialist legal recruitment agency, who strive to be a force for good, are passionate about diversity and social mobility and ensure all actions are taken to minimise their impact on the environment.