in CV Writing

US Legal CVs compared to UK Legal CVs

We have recently taken an order from a US client looking for a CV to use with UK law firms and to present a CV in a way the UK law firms would understand it.  Ten Percent Legal Recruitment & Careers Services have been assisting US, Australian, Chinese, New Zealand lawyers for many years with CVs both for use in their own jurisdictions and to enter another jurisdiction.

Most of the Commonwealth Jurisdiction CVs we have prepared have been completed without query but on a number of occasions US clients have got back to ask lots of questions as to why the CV is in the format it is.

One of the major issues appears to be that a number of US lawyers believe that their CV should only be one page long at the most and cannot understand why we have prepared them a CV that is between 3 and 8 or 9 pages.  The other issue appears to relate to the rather dramatic difference between the way education is used to recruit in the UK compared with the US.

It may be worth explaining these two points further, in case you are a US lawyer thinking of using our legal CV writing services.

In the UK and in most Commonwealth jurisdictions it is very common to see long CVs detailing all the work you have done in a particular role.  The usual length for your work experience and your most recent role is around ¾ to 1 ½ pages. It is also common to see a full breakdown of your academic studies going right back to your high school days.  The reason for the lengthy CV is that employers want to see exactly what you have been doing.

There seems to be a lot more emphasis in the States on the name of the firm, the name of the institute you studied at and the therefore implied quality of that work.  It does not seem to be the case in the UK as much, although obviously employers recruit based on the quality of the firms you have worked for.

In the UK employers want to see exactly what you have done with a law firm throughout your career to date and the only way they are able to do that is for you to describe it for them.  If you do not describe it it could be implied that you have spent your time with the firm doing very mundane tasks and have nothing to offer them.  There is a whole list of things that need to be included on your legal CV and this is why we have to prepare CVs of a considerable length.

Secondly your academic record matters in the UK and you need to provide your full history dating back to high school.  Law firms in the UK and other jurisdictions like to see academic consistency and the quality of your education is not necessarily as important as the actual results.  Afterall it is no good going to Eton for five years if you finish up with Es at A Level.

We still get telephone calls now from law firms wanting to know what A Levels senior solicitors got because they are checking for consistency in both work and academia.

Please bear all of this in mind if you are contacting us to write a legal CV. We have been providing our CV writing services for over 10 years.  If you do not think you will be comfortable with the advice we give you, please think carefully before placing your order. We hold back nothing, and we give each client full advice on their CV and legal careers where applicable.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and prepares each CV ordered through our legal careers shop personally.


Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at