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Top CV Tips for Newly Qualified Solicitors: How to Stand Out in the Legal Job Market

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 22 May 2024

NQ Solicitor CV

Navigating the legal job market as a NQ solicitor can be as equally daunting as it is exciting. With competition fierce and opportunities coveted, standing out from the crowd is paramount. Your CV not only serves as your first introduction to potential employers but also as a key tool in securing that all-important interview. In this article, we delve into top CV tips tailored specifically for newly qualified solicitors, ensuring you present yourself in the best possible light and maximise your chances of landing the best role for you.

  • Perfect your Personal Statement

    Starting your newly qualified solicitor CV with a personal statement is a great way to condense your key attributes and make you stand out to a recruiter. This is an opportunity to summarise your expertise, and demonstrate how your skillset aligns to the role. It should be a handful of sentences (4-5) reflecting who you are and why you are an ideal candidate for the job.

    As a newly qualified solicitor, you should highlight your chosen specialism in the personal statement, whether you’re looking at NQ solicitor jobs in company and commercial Law, private client, or personal injury. Showcase your key competencies in this area, as well as your dedication. Remember to keep your personal statement short and succinct – aim for no more than about 150 words.

    Example:

    “A Newly Qualified Solicitor, specialising in Commercial Law, with a first class honours degree from University of Bristol, and Distinction in the GDL. Completing a training contract at Bird & Bird LLP, I honed my legal research, advocacy, and non-contentious skills, applying theoretical legal knowledge to deepen my understanding of commercial legislation.”

  • Work Experience

    When applying for newly qualified solicitor jobs, your experience is your key selling point. Every candidate will have training contract experience, making it vital that you lay out your expertise to highlight your competencies and achievements.

    Beginning with your most recent seat and working backwards, summarise your work experience in a bullet point structure, using action verbs such as ‘accomplished,’ ‘initiated’ and ‘exceeded’. Ensure that where applicable, you show evidence to quantify each achievement – values, numbers, timeframes surrounding deadlines etc.

    Showcase a blend of practical experience gained through training contracts and internships, spotlighting technical skills relevant such as legal research, document preparation, client interaction, and specific departmental exposures.

    Example:

    Trainee Solicitor | X Law Firm, London | September 2021 - August 2023

      •  

    Commercial Litigation Department (six months): Assisted in the preparation of legal documents for high-profile cases, contributing to successful outcomes in 95% of the cases. Conducted legal research that was pivotal in developing case strategies, and regularly liaised with clients to gather necessary information.

      •  

    Family Law Department (six months): Supported senior solicitors in managing case files for divorce proceedings and child custody cases. Drafted affidavits and other court documents under supervision, achieving commendations for attention to detail and proactive client communications.

      •  

    Property Law Department (six months): Participated in client meetings regarding property transactions, prepared contract drafts, and conducted due diligence investigations. Helped streamline document processing, reducing turnaround times by 20%.

      •  

    Corporate Law Department (six months): Involved in several merger and acquisition transactions, preparing due diligence reports and drafting transactional documents. Enhanced my understanding of corporate structuring and finance regulations.

    Legal Intern | ABC Legal Services, Bristol | June 2020 - August 2020

      •  

    Assisted with the drafting of legal documents and briefs for a variety of cases, focusing on public liability and personal injury claims.

      •  

    Accomplished extensive legal research that contributed to the firm’s knowledge base, ensuring up-to-date client advisories.

      •  

    Participated in client interviews and compiled detailed notes that were used to shape case strategies.

    Volunteer Legal Advisor | Legal Aid Clinic, University of Bristol | September 2019 - May 2021

      •  

    Provided free legal advice to low-income individuals on issues related to housing, employment, and family law.

      •  

    Organised weekly workshops for the community to educate them on their legal rights and responsibilities.

  • Standout Achievements

    Take some time to consider the key achievements in your training. This could involve working towards targets, excelling in high value work or taking the lead amongst other trainees. Any experience of working on more complex matters and dealing with high-net-worth clients will help to present you as an attractive candidate.

    Think about how your experience translates into skills – particularly relating to your preferred practice area.

    Examples:

      •  

    Spearheaded a comprehensive due diligence investigation for a merger valued at over £50 million. Supervised a team of four interns, coordinating efforts that culminated in the timely and successful completion of the project, thereby facilitating a smooth transaction.

      •  

    Initiated and led a legal research group that focused on emerging trends in commercial law, which significantly enhanced the firm’s readiness for handling cases involving new regulations and technologies. This initiative was praised for its foresight and was adopted firm-wide.

  • Education, Qualification and Duration:

    As a recently qualified lawyer, you will likely have a long list of qualifications to include in your NQ solicitor CV. It is important to include a full education history in reverse chronological order, starting with your LPC result and finishing with your A Levels. GCSEs can be summarised as a collective, e.g. ‘10 GCSEs, Grades A*-C, including Maths and English.’

    Make sure to include the qualification title, grade obtained, where you studied and the dates attended. Always put the full course title for a degree e.g. ‘LLB Law,’ followed by the degree class and the name of the University.

  • Pay Attention to Structure and Format:

    Your newly qualified solicitor CV should ideally be no more than two pages long, beginning with personal details, followed by the personal statement, work experience, skills and achievements, and education and training.

    Use section headers and bullet points to list details; chunky paragraphs and incoherent text is more likely to get skimmed over.

  • Applying for Different Roles?

    If you’re open to more than one practice area, it is crucial to tailor your CV accordingly. When applying to different NQ solicitor jobs, you should amend everything from your personal statement to experience and achievements.

  • An Extra Boost

    If you’re still wondering about what else you can do to give your NQ solicitor CV an edge, or if it seems a little bare, perhaps you can consider the following:

      •  

    Prior legal work experience (as a paralegal, legal secretary, conveyancing assistant etc) is helpful to include. It shows that your legal experience stretches beyond your training contract, making you an attractive prospective candidate.

      •  

    Provide details about your university course, including relevant modules and the learnings and skills you gained. A law-related dissertation or unusual / specialist modules could be of interest to an employer.

      •  

    Make sure that you’ve listed any standout skills such as speaking a foreign language, IT and software proficiency etc.

  • Further CV Aid:

    Always remember to proofread your CV to make sure that it is free of mistakes and inconsistencies. Equally, it’s always beneficial to get a friend or family member to have a read through, or alternatively submit your CV for a free review with TopCV.

    Search and apply for a variety of NQ Solicitor roles on TotallyLegal. For more career advice, check out our advice on how to answer NQ solicitor interview questions.

    Would you like to take part in an interview about your experience as an NQ Solicitor? If so, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch on sales@totallylegal.com to find out more.