The First Impression: The Dreaded CV!

September 1, 2015

If we had a Pound for every time a solicitor contemplating a move has said that they are dreading putting together a CV, we would be very rich indeed!  Some find it a very daunting task, especially if they have not drafted a CV since their training contracts or even pre-training contract.  If you are in this position you should not be worried, it is not as hard as people think and we are here to help them through the process.

That said, you should not underestimate the importance of your CV – it is the first impression you are making on a potential employer.  Even if you do not make the move, that partner will be an important figure in the legal market who you want to impress.

What should you do?

Spend a good amount of time drafting your CV.  Far too often, we see CVs which have clearly been cobbled together in a hurry.  It is understandable – solicitors are generally very busy at the moment, so CV preparation is often restricted to late nights throughout the week or on weekends, free time which is precious to the busy modern solicitor!

Use our Qualified Solicitor CV template or Trainee Solicitor CV template and follow the general instructions we have provided.  Think about the key facets of your work over the past few years and the clients you have worked for.  If such information or client identities are in the public domain, include it/them.  If they are not, err on the side of caution and describe the transactions or cases in as much detail as possible without identifying the client.

Keep the CV to three pages – the age-old guideline of two pages is not necessary, between two and three pages is fine and, certainly, when you build your experience throughout your career, it is going to require more space.  Business plans, especially with financial information, are often longer documents.

Do NOT attach a photo – even if you are a supermodel!

Do NOT include a personal statement – partners and decision-makers want to assess your qualities themselves, rather than be told by you that you are a “conscientious, ambitious solicitor with an incredible work ethic”.

When discussing your experience, talk frankly about the subject matter of your work rather than just the prescriptive elements of your role.  Avoid being too generic – statements like ‘drafting leases, licences to assign and alter and contracts of sale’ offers nothing to a real estate partner as that would be expected of you.  Instead focus on the clients and files, including figures and specifics about transactions and cases.

Make sure you have a Business Development section – include anything networking, client-focused or intra-departmental – and finish off with Hobbies and Interests.  Don’t lie or exaggerate about your interests – if you falsely talk about trekking the Simian mountains, you can guarantee the partner interviewing you will have been there last year!

The CV is a very personal document and therefore an objective eye is essential to make sure it is in a A1 condition before it goes to an employer.  We will provide you with an honest assessment of your CV and give you any advice required to make it better.


If you have been thinking about a move or would just like some general advice about options in the market, please feel free to contact Terry Cape or Chris Clarke on 0113 2385965.

CapeClarke is a leading niche legal recruitment consultancy operating across Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and London. Please feel free to check out our priority legal vacancies by clicking here.  Please note these legal vacancies are only a small selection of those we have been instructed on, so please get in touch if you do not see a role which looks suitable.

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