hiring manager reviewing legal resumes at her desk

Reviewing Legal Resumes: Traits to Look Out for in Potential Employees

When searching for the perfect legal job candidate, you need to understand the skills and abilities that will set job seekers apart from other candidates. One of the first places to start is the attorney resume.

However, before we jump into required successful traits and how to hire counsel that will benefit your organization, let’s look more broadly at the legal industry.


Current State of the Legal Industry

Like many industries, the legal profession is undergoing an upheaval. The profession has remained stagnant for several years, according to the 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market, with only modest increases in demands for legal services.

Some practice areas have shown growth, such as corporate, labor and employment, and litigation. Other practice areas have taken a slight step backward, such as patent litigation and bankruptcy. When searching for qualified legal candidates, make sure that candidates’ resumes are tailored and cultivated to that position or practice area, not the legal industry in general.


team of legal professionals having a meeting in a conference room


Types of Attorneys & Legal Professionals

Not all attorneys fit into one box. Like most professions, the legal industry is expansive and diverse. Additionally, not all available legal positions are for attorneys. As the legal industry evolves, more non-attorney legal jobs are becoming available, such as law firm administrators and document review specialists.


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Trending Skills

When reviewing attorney resumes as well as those for other legal positions, you need to identify successful traits for today’s ever-changing legal industry, not the legal trade of yesteryear. For example, most attorneys should have excellent legal drafting, negotiation, and research skills. Additionally, lawyers should possess stellar communication, strategic thinking, and creative skills.

However, as the industry evolves, legal employers will be recruiting a “new breed” of legal professionals. The new legal professional must have skills beyond researching, writing, and interpreting case law. These candidates should be streetwise and business-savvy. They should also be solution- and people-oriented. These skills should be showcased on a candidate’s legal resume.

Here are some top skills legal professionals need to succeed in today’s legal industry:

  • Oral and written communication
  • Legal research
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Knowledge of law and legal procedure
  • Project management
  • Client relationships
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Collaboration
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Financial literacy
  • Business fundamentals
  • Persuasiveness
  • Technology skills

hiring manager shaking hands with a potential new legal hire


Let’s look at technology skills, for example. According to Law.com, with technology impacting all legal jobs, candidates should be competent in cloud-based programs and the Internet of Things, while delivering a satisfying client experience quickly and efficiently.

To be truly successful, candidates need to know more than how to operate a cloud-based app. Outstanding candidates will understand how to deliver a client-centric experience through the use of technology, as opposed to the traditional eat-what-you-kill, bill-by-the-hour business model. Make sure you hire a lawyer who emphasizes these 21st-century skills on his or her attorney resume.


There’s no doubt that the legal industry is going through massive changes. If you’re looking to hire counsel or other legal professionals, check out the recruiting solutions on iHireLegal today.

By iHire | November 07, 2019