When legal departments review the resumes of attorney candidates, they typically look for specific qualifications and experiences that demonstrate their suitability for the role including education, bar admission, practice areas, and litigation and case experience. 

We asked Robert Half legal recruiting professionals what they look for on a legal resume. From emphasizing stability in work history to showcasing adaptability, here are the four key insights they shared.

  • Emphasize stability in work history
  • Highlight history working on SaaS contracts 
  • Use action words on resumes to stick out
  • Showcase adaptability qualities


Emphasize stability in work history

Stability on the resume is paramount for attorney candidates in this current climate. While general counsel and other in-house leaders are willing to train attorneys in new areas of the law, they are wary to invest time in an attorney they fear is a flight risk. More than ever, attorney candidates can transition to in-house legal departments and receive hands-on mentorship from high-level leaders. However, employers are adamant on attorney candidates staying in their most recent positions for over two years before they commit to an offer.

Samantha Graham, director of permanent placement, Los Angeles, Calif.


Highlight history working on SaaS contracts 

Contracts are a key part of any business. They allow you to sell your services and to protect your risk. As companies continue to push for growth, contracts have become one of the most in-demand skill sets for attorneys in legal departments. If you can review, draft, redline, and negotiate, you bring a ton of value to companies. If you have experience with SaaS (Software as a Service), then you have a leg up.

Technology continues to be the way of the future. As more software companies, apps, and platforms pop up, SaaS contracts will be the most sought-after experience in-house. If you have the chance to pick up those skills, throw your hand up and learn, because you'll find yourself in high demand for years to come!

Stephanie Elliott, vice president, branch director, Seattle, Wash.


Use action words on resumes to stick out

Legal departments are often impressed by attorneys demonstrating their ability to work independently. Action verbs like “spearheaded,” “oversaw,” and “managed” stand out on resumes and lend themselves to the value an attorney can add to the organization, without training.


  • Ran point on all corporate governance matters, managed multiple entities
  • Spearheaded contract negotiation with vendors
  • Oversaw legal team with five direct reports

McKinley Horwitz, assistant vice president, practice director, Newport Beach, Calif. 


Showcase adaptability qualities

Adaptability! In today's environment, many legal departments are having to do more with less and must be able to pivot quickly with changing goals and targets. This means legal departments need all their attorneys to be adaptable.

In-house candidates should display that they can face new situations or circumstances with ease. Showing adaptability on your resume can be as easy as showing situations where you took on extra responsibilities outside your typical scope or being able to switch seamlessly between a variety of tasks. Show you are an adaptable member of a team, ready to take on new challenges!

Elisabetta Fabiani, vice president, Palo Alto, Calif. 



Robert Half recruiters (top row, from left): Stephanie Elliott and Samantha Graham; (bottom row, from left): Elisabetta Fabiani and McKinley Horowitz. 

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