Build a Resume that Stands-Out for In House Attorney Positions

Tips & Mistakes to Avoid to Create a Strong In House Counsel Resume

Create an impressive in house counsel resume that stands out from the competition with the following tips from our legal recruiters and career experts. Scroll down to find the best practices and mistakes to avoid when building a resume to land attorney jobs in house.

Are you an attorney looking to make the transition from a law firm to an in-house counsel position? If yes, then it is crucial to have a standout resume that highlights your skills and expertise. In-house attorney positions require a different skill set than those needed in law firms. We will also discuss common mistakes to avoid when writing an in-house attorney resume, tips for aligning your resume with specific roles, and the role of networking in securing your dream job. Get ready to take your legal career to the next level!

The Importance of a Strong Resume for In-House Attorney Positions

A strong resume plays a vital role in your job search, especially for in-house attorney positions. By showcasing your relevant skills, achievements, and writing skills, you can set yourself apart from other applicants in the highly competitive legal job market. Here are the things that you need to know to build a strong in house counsel resume.

Understanding the Transition: Law Firm to Corporate Counsel

Transitioning from a law firm to a corporate counsel role necessitates comprehending the fundamental differences in responsibilities and expectations between the two positions. Here is what you need to know about the key differences and skills in attorney jobs in law firms and in house to structure your resume effectively.

Key Differences in Roles and Expectations

In-house attorneys assume broader responsibilities compared to their counterparts in law firms. As corporate counsel, they primarily focus on providing legal advice and guidance to a single company. They often work hand in hand with the business people to mitigate risks and to address situations before they result in litigation. Effective communication and collaboration skills are crucial for working closely with various departments within the organization. In-house attorneys often play a role in the development of company policies and ensuring compliance.

This is different than attorney jobs in law firms. In a law firm, the lawyers are the revenue generators that need to bill hours to advance the business. To do this, attorneys in law firms often focus on specialties or establish themselves as thought leaders in a particular niche in practice. These highly specialized practices are great for law firms, but they don't always translate to legal jobs in house. And, for in house attorneys, they want to maximize their efficiency on matters because their time is a cost center - not a revenue generator. These differences in roles and expectations translate into different things that the legal hiring managers are looking for in house.

Leveraging Law Firm Experience for Corporate Counsel Positions

Despite these distinctions, it is possible to leverage your law firm experience for assistant general counsel roles. For example, the ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines demonstrates your value as a candidate. Showcase your suitability for the role by including details about your skills in legal research, writing persuasive arguments, and providing sound legal advice to showcase your expertise. Additionally, demonstrating your ability to manage multiple cases simultaneously and highlighting any experience in crisis management and mitigating legal risks will further strengthen your candidacy.

Elements of a Stand-Out In House Attorney Resume

Now that the distinctions between attorney roles are more clear, you can dive right into the expert tips to create a strong in house lawyer resume. Here they are!

Crafting a Compelling Profile Statement

The best way to grab people's attention is to craft a strong opening. This means writing a summary that answers the question of "Why Hire You?" A compelling summary statement for an in house attorney resume should be concise and captivating, highlighting your unique selling points. Apply your knowledge of the differences in in-house and law firm attorneys to articulate your experience, expertise, and strengths. Use persuasive language to convey your value proposition to potential employers. It's important to tailor your profile statement to align with the specific requirements of the in-house attorney position. By keeping it concise and focused, you can capture the reader's attention within the first few lines. Make sure your profile statement sets you apart as the ideal candidate for the role.

Highlighting Relevant Skills and Proficiencies on Your In House Counsel Resume

Make sure to specifically outline your skills and proficiencies on your in-house attorney resume. Remember, the recruiter who will skim your resume does not just hire attorneys like in a law firm. Instead, this person filters candidates and fills roles across the business. So, they will want to see details about what you have done in a different way than those who are filling attorney roles in law firms.

You can use bullet points to outline your responsibilities. Doing so makes it easier for the recruiters to quickly scan and identify them. Remember to include both technical/legal skills, such as legal writing and research, as well as soft skills, like communication, negotiation, and problem-solving. To make your skills stand out even more, relate them to specific achievements or experiences to demonstrate their practical application. By doing so, you will showcase yourself as an ideal candidate for the role.

Detailing Your Professional Experience with Impact

Make sure to also include clear achievement bullets for each of the entries for your work experience. This is key to illustrating how you applied those skills to achieve results. Use numbers whenever possible and incorporate the details that are relevant to the jobs that you are pursuing in house. You can do this without disclosing client names or confidential data by providing percentages, categories, and other relevant contextual details without giving away protected information on your resume. Also, make sure that you focus on your role in achieving those results rather than the impact on the client/law firm.

Showcasing Relevant Education and Credentials

Clearly list your educational background, including law school and any additional degrees or certifications. It is not necessary to include all education in this section. For example, your high school diploma and older CLEs would not be relevant. Instead, keep your education and credentials section focused on the more recent, relevant information. This means that you should include your bachelor's, JD, and any licensures or certifications.

Also, don't forget to mention any honors, awards, or scholarships you have received, as these demonstrate your achievements and dedication. Additionally, emphasize any specialized training or certifications that may be relevant to the role. By showcasing your commitment to continuing education and professional development, you position yourself as a well-rounded and knowledgeable candidate.

Strengthen Your Resume for In House Position with Action Verbs

Use strong action verbs that effectively showcase your skills and experience. Begin each bullet point with a powerful action verb such as "negotiated," "advised," "analyzed," or "drafted". These verbs accurately describe your contributions and accomplishments while maintaining reader engagement. Varying your verbs helps to avoid repetition and adds impact to your resume. By using powerful action verbs, you can effectively convey your proactive approach and the impact you have made in your previous roles.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing an In-House Attorney Resume

When crafting your in-house attorney resume, it's important to avoid common mistakes that can hinder your chances of securing the position. Here are the common pitfalls to avoid on your attorney resume:

Avoiding Overuse of Legal Jargon

Legal or law firm jargon should be minimized on your resume. The in-house attorney is a business partner who works across the organization with lawyers and non-lawyers. So, the recruiter and hiring manager will want to see plain language on your resume or at least relevant language.

Focus on using clear and concise language that effectively communicates your skills and experience to the reader. By avoiding excessive legal terminology, you can ensure that your resume is easily understood and doesn't confuse or overwhelm hiring managers. Instead of relying heavily on technical terms, explain your legal achievements in a way that is accessible to a broader audience. This demonstrates your ability to translate complex legal concepts into layman's terms, making you a valuable asset to any organization.

Don't Forget the Importance of Keywords

Companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan and filter candidates for their open jobs. These systems scan your resume to find the keywords from the job description to determine your fit for the particular role. This means that you must incorporate the keywords throughout your resume in a way that the ATS can read it or you won't get in front of a person.

These systems need headings and phrases to find the details on your resume. The ATS also can't typically read graphics or heavy formatting. Instead, focus on the relevant experience and use the keywords from the job description to show up as the best candidate for the role.

Not Proofreading Your Resume

Like any important document, attorneys are expected to proofread their work. Unfortunately, too many lawyer candidates forget this important step to resume writing. Avoid this common mistake by double-checking your resume for any spelling or grammatical errors that may undermine your professionalism. Additionally, ensure proper formatting and consistency throughout the document to create a polished impression. Reviewing for clarity and readability is also important, as it helps convey your qualifications effectively. Lastly, consider seeking feedback from a trusted colleague or mentor to ensure your resume showcases your expertise accurately.

The Role of Networking in Securing In-House Attorney Positions

Legal professionals network throughout their careers for different reasons. If you are looking to go in house for the first time or want to make a move to another company, the key is in your networking. You will still have to apply for the job, but having that connection on the inside is essential to standing out in the competitive legal talent market.

In fact, a candidate with an employee referral will automatically get shortlisted for an interview at most companies. Most companies have structured employee referral programs because they have found that it is a cheaper way to source the best talent. In fact, candidates with a referral are 4x more likely to get the job than someone who simply applies online without a referral. Thus, networking is key to a legal job search.

Building your professional network is a career-long habit that you can start or revitalize now. To expand your professional connections, utilize platforms like LinkedIn to connect with potential employers and colleagues. Attending industry events, conferences, and seminars also provides opportunities for networking. Joining legal associations or organizations allows you to meet professionals in the field, including hiring managers and prospective employers. By leveraging your network, you can gain job referrals, recommendations, and even informational interviews.


In conclusion, crafting a strong and standout resume is crucial when pursuing in-house attorney positions. Understanding the transition from a law firm to a corporate counsel role is essential, as it involves navigating key differences in roles and expectations. Leveraging your law firm experience and highlighting relevant skills, proficiencies, and education will help your resume stand out. Don't forget to proofread your resume and use action verbs to strengthen your accomplishments. Lastly, networking plays a significant role in securing in-house attorney positions, so make sure to build connections within your desired industry.

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