If you're considering a career as a legal consultant, it's a good time to explore this non-traditional path in the field of law. Many law firms and corporate legal departments are in need of specialized talent and look to legal consultants to support their teams and clients in many ways – from assisting with research and analysis to providing compliance expertise.
Legal professionals often decide to work as consultants, either solo or through staffing firms, because they enjoy the diversity of assignments. (They also may seek more control over their work-life balance and to be free from the pressure of billable hours.) However, creating a resume that positions you for a range of employment opportunities, instead of targeting one specific job and/or employer, can be a challenge. Here are three resume tips that can help:
- Promote in-demand expertise
According to Robert Half Legal's Future Law Office report, The Evolving Legal Profession and Emerging Workforce of Tomorrow, law firms and in-house teams want to hire legal professionals with relevant business and industry knowledge. Also, many firms seek skilled talent to help them support hot practice areas such as litigation, healthcare and commercial law, and to build business in niche specialty areas, like intellectual property law. Pay attention to these trends and be sure to shine a spotlight on any expertise you have that is in particularly high demand.
- Explain how you added value
This advice should be included among resume tips for any legal position today, but can be especially important for legal consultants. Most employers will engage legal consultants for only a short period, and for a very specific reason. Therefore, they need to confirm up front whether you're equipped to help them address a particular need or challenge. So for every work experience you detail in your resume, underscore a value-adding contribution that you made. For example: "Applied knowledge of Brazil's tax environment to help client stay in compliance with corporate tax law and avoid significant financial penalties following an acquisition deal."
- Highlight other specialties
Does your unique skill set include bilingual abilities or knowledge of relevant technology? Specialties like these often prove to be the "little extras" that can carry a lot of weight when a hiring manager is evaluating the merits of two legal consultant candidates with similar abilities. eDiscovery experience can also give you an edge and help position you for some potentially long-term assignments. Many legal organizations are assembling specialized project teams, which include legal consultants, as a way to address the costs and complexities of eDiscovery matters, according to Robert Half Legal's Future Law Office report, Client Dynamics Driving Change in the Legal Profession.
Other resume tips to consider
In addition to the above advice, be sure to keep your resume lean (direct and concise). You want to offer enough information to convince a hiring manager to contact you, but also leave detail for the actual interview. Also, take care to keep your resume current and stay on top of hiring and compensation trends for the legal industry.
For unbiased resume tips from an industry insider, consider reaching out to staffing agencies that specialize in placing skilled legal professionals. Their recruiters will often have firsthand experience working in the legal field. They can also help you to connect with legal consulting opportunities at leading law firms and companies.