If you’re considering an administrative career, the legal world can be a great place to focus your job search. Or similarly, if you’re thinking about a legal career but aren’t quite sure if you want to make the commitment to law school, working as a legal secretary/assistant can be a way to learn and grow your skills while you decide if this is something you want to pursue further. It’s a job choice that can open a number of different avenues for you, from executive assistant to paralegal or even attorney, depending on what kind of educational programs you want to pursue.
Let’s look at three different legal assistant resumes—one entry-level, one mid-career, and one legal assistant seeking to move up into being a paralegal. First up is Eric, who’s a recent grad trying to parlay some internship and volunteer admin experience into a full-time legal assistant job.
17 Carr Street
Birmingham, AL 12121
Recent graduate with an interest in legal studies and experience managing complex legal administrative tasks, seeking an entry-level position at The Innocents Project as a legal assistant.
- Managing schedules and arranging meeting logistics
- Handling sensitive information with discretion and according to best practices
- Communicating verbally and in writing with clients and team members
- Bilingual fluency (English and Spanish)
- Conducting research using academic databases, books, and periodicals
- Proofreading and copyediting
Legal Intern January 2017 – present
Turner University Law Clinic
Serve as the legal intern for the university’s law clinic, assisting paralegals and attorneys with case research and administrative tasks.
- Coordinate meetings between clients and clinic staff
- Process invoices and check requests
- Assist with research online and using legal library materials
Student Volunteer September 2016 – January 2017
Turner University Law Clinic
Assisted law clinic staff with filing documents and maintaining accurate client files.
- Answered phones and greeted clients
- Filed legal documents and client information
Bachelor’s degree: American History
In your resume, you always want to emphasize your best aspects first. Eric starts with an objective that gives a snapshot of his situation, his experience, and his goal (tailored specifically to a job opening at The Innocents Project). He has some experience as an intern and volunteer at his school’s legal clinic, but no full-time work experience as a legal assistant yet, so he chooses to emphasize the kinds of skills he’s developed. That’s followed by a brief explanation of his relevant work experience. It’s a very targeted resume that shows Eric’s most relevant information.
Next we have Molly, who’s been a legal secretary for a number of years and is refreshing her resume for new job opportunities.
1313 Barnard Ave, #4C ★ Boston, MA 98989
888-555-8888 ★ Molly.Chu4@emaildomain.edu
Legal administrative professional with more than 20 years of experience, including top law firms. Superior organizational skills with special expertise in handling confidential and sensitive materials.
Senior Legal Secretary Winken, Blinken, & Nod
Boston, MA June 2006 – present
Serve as the head secretary for one of Boston’s top 10 family law firms, managing an administrative team of 4.
- Schedule client meetings and maintain three partners’ calendars.
- Prepare correspondence to opposing counsel and clients.
- Transcribe depositions and keep detailed logs.
- File pleadings, motions, and litigation materials for court.
- Coordinate and prepare exhibits and exhibit lists for trials and hearings.
- Organize discovery materials and attorneys' files.
- Assist attorneys with organizing their caseloads and meetings.
- Manage, train, and mentor a team of junior legal assistants.
Legal Assistant Maryann Banks, Attorney at Law
Boston, MA February 2000 – June 2006
Provided administrative support for an attorney in solo practice, plus a staff of six.
- Drafted and sent legal documents, including court-related and client correspondence on the attorney’s behalf.
- Scheduled court dates and meetings.
- Organized and maintained case files.
Executive Assistant Van Pelt Industries
Boston, MA March 1997 – February 2000
Supported a team of 6 sales managers at a Fortune 500 company.
- Managed calendars and travel arrangements for the executive Sales team.
- Maintained detailed records and processed reimbursement requests.
- Answered phones and greeted clients.
- Prepared correspondence for both internal and external partners.
- Word processing
- Document Management
- Time tracking and billing
- Docket and calendar management
Wellesley Community College
Associate’s degree, Legal Administration
Associate’s degree, General Studies
Molly’s best asset is her long experience, so that’s what she features most prominently. She uses a summary to offer a kind of highlights reel, but saves the most detail for her experience section. Her experience doesn’t include any way-back jobs that may not be relevant to her career and her current goals as a legal secretary, to keep the resume focused.
And last but not least is Grace, who has experience as a legal admin but is looking to move up a step to paralegal.
777 Beagle Street
Jacksonville, FL 63636
Certified paralegal and experienced legal administrative professional, specializing in legal research and criminal defense procedure.
- Drafting clear, concise, and meticulously reviewed legal documents
- Conducting comprehensive legal research using databases including LexisNexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, and HeinOnline
- Taking depositions and providing information to clients and witnesses
- Expertise in criminal law and procedure
The Marston Group, LLC
2014 – present
- Serve subpoenas and prepare pleadings, motions, discovery and trial binders.
- Obtain discovery information for attorneys and research case law.
- Support five attorneys in all aspects of criminal defense.
- Draft client and internal correspondence.
- Transcribe depositions and meeting notes.
- Prepare court filings, both paper and digital for the County Court System.
- Train and manage new secretaries and associates.
Ferris & Wall
2011 – 2014
- Provided administrative support for two partners.
- Maintained schedules and client appointments.
- Conducted preliminary client interviews to prepare for attorney meetings.
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive digital filing system for legal files.
CERTIFICATION AND EDUCATION
NALA Paralegal Certification (The Legal Institute, 2017)
Associate’s degree, Criminology (Baxter College, 2008)
- Legal citation
- Microsoft Office suite
Grace’s resume is laser-focused on her legal career and what she wants to do next. Although a paralegal and a legal secretary can be similar roles, Grace wants to make sure she’s emphasizing the key parts of a paralegal’s job (research, interacting more with clients, etc.) over the standard legal admin tasks of a legal secretary or assistant. At the same time, she wants to make sure her experience is clear. So she goes with a combined resume format, which takes the skills focus of a functional resume and the experience points of a traditional chronological resume and puts them together to create the narrative that she’s got experience, but is now certified as a paralegal and has the skills to move into that role.
Remember that your resume isn’t just a laundry list of what you’ve done and where you’ve been, but a chance to frame your story as a professional. You want to maximize that story by highlighting the information that will best serve your goals for this new job.
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