Law CV mistakes: Our ten biggest pitfalls

We’re often asked about the worst law CV mistakes, read on for some of the biggest culprits.

Why is it important to get your CV right? We have all experienced that feeling of walking into a really nice shop or hotel and thinking, ‘wow, this place is amazing’.

Retailers spend millions of pounds each year on marketing and making sure that their shops are a pleasant place for people to shop in and this goes a long way to enticing you to spend your money there.

Take Apple as an example and think about their stores: they always have great presentation, the key information about products is presented quickly and there is a sense of simplicity when purchasing products.

There’s something to learn from big retailers like Apple when applying for jobs and the most important lesson for applicants is: your CV is a method by which you sell your skills – it’s like putting the products in your store on display for your future employer.

A great CV is a way of showing off your skills and attributes and encouraging a prospective employer to invite you for an interview. However, lots of applicants make some very common law CV mistakes.

Here are the top 10 law CV mistakes:

1 Poor presentation

Think of poor presentation like going to an interview with an unironed shirt – it wouldn’t come across very well!

In the same vein, you want to present your CV nicely because it shows a prospective employer that you care about presentation.

2 Dense text

Having clear headings and bullet points will make your CV easier to read and anything which is easier to read will encourage someone to continue to read it.

The trick is to give enough information so that the reader wants to know more but not so much that it bores them.

3 Not making the bullet points skills-based

Employers are interested in hearing about what skills you have and what you can bring to the table if they offer you a job.

Just listing what you have done will not do you justice so you should mention what skills you developed as a result of doing the task too.

4 Not mentioning figures

Law firms love to show off the big deals they have worked on: just have a look at the home page on their websites!

In the same way the firms do, you should also mention some figures. For example, “I increased the revenue of the law society by £5,000 in my first year of university”.

5 No achievements section

Adding in a section about the awards, scholarships or prizes you have won will show a prospective employer your academic ability and also showcase extracurricular achievements.

Law CV Mistakes

6 Spelling mistakes

One that we all talk about a lot and try to avoid because it makes us look careless.

The best way to make sure that your writing is free from spelling errors is to get a friend to read over it. This also applies when it comes to avoiding law CV mistakes.

Having a second pair of eyes to look at the CV and then discussing the feedback will help to avoid sending out a CV with spelling mistakes.

7 Forgetting to list important qualifications

People sometimes forget to put down their A Level or GCSE grades.

However, these are key qualifications and should be listed at the top of the CV with your degree classification and other legal qualifications.

8 Not amending the CV for different employers

Applicants often forget that a CV should be bespoke.

If you are applying for different positions, you should amend your CV so that your past experience reflects the position you are now applying for.

9 Forgetting to show some personality

Don’t list interests that are completely irrelevant but if you can show that you have developed some transferable skills through a hobby, it will demonstrate that you are an interesting individual.

For example, you may like restoring old cars on the weekend and this may have developed attention to detail, which is an important skill law firms look for.

10 Not placing enough emphasis on commercial experience

Law firms always mention the words ‘commercial awareness’ and ask applicants to demonstrate this. Ignoring this is one of those classic law CV mistakes.

However, we often forget that the best way to show commercial awareness is through our work experience in businesses.

If you’ve worked in a business, whether it’s a newsagent or a bar or your local nursery, use it to show commercial experience.


Shiv is managing director of The Law Tutors, which is a private tuition agency specialising in law. One of the services that the company offers is professional CV and covering letter writing for people applying to law firms in addition to training candidates on commercial awareness and interview technique.

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