In 2023 and beyond, you should fully understand how to address tech skills in your legal resume.
Technology has become part of the essential fabric of our society, and the legal profession is no stranger to this trend. In fact, tech skills are more important than ever for legal professionals seeking to compete in a digital world.
This leaves a couple of questions: Which tech skills are most marketable for legal professionals? How can you add those skills to your resume in a way that makes your tech proficiency clear?
We address these questions below.
Marketable tech skills for legal professionals
The most marketable tech skills for legal professionals are the ones most useful for a modern law office.
Focus on tech capabilities that will mesh with the legal industry’s increased use of legal technology. The following are some prime examples of tech skills to include in your legal resume.
The legal industry is document-intensive, but the modern law office has moved beyond keeping voluminous paper documents in storage. Now, a legal professional must be comfortable with scanned documents and digital document management systems.
While these systems might be general-purpose document solutions, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, many firms will use tech platforms specifically geared to legal document management. If you have experience using a particular legal document management system, it’s wise to include that on your resume.
Document management is obviously important for legal professionals such as paralegals and legal support staff.
However, attorneys are still well-advised to familiarize themselves with document management systems so they can locate important files efficiently. Junior attorneys especially can benefit from making their proficiency in this area clear.
Long gone are the days of sorting through volumes in your firm’s dusty law library. Legal research is primarily conducted online now, and a variety of websites and research platforms have become available.
LexisNexis and Westlaw are still the most prominent research solutions, so be sure to highlight any expertise on those platforms.
If your skills in digital discovery are especially good, that may also be worth mentioning without specific reference to a platform. You can always elaborate more on that skill in the interview or in your work experience.
Electronic filing has become the norm for many courts, including U.S. federal courts. This means legal professionals must become comfortable with submission of electronic documents, as well as with different filing systems for different courts.
Even better, a standout legal professional can develop proficiency in legal technology specifically focused on eFiling.
While word processing is a fairly basic skill for a modern legal professional, it is no less important than other tech capabilities.
Creation and proper formatting of documents are essential in the legal world, as is the ability to effectively create and use templates.
While Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing tool, familiarity with cloud-based solutions such as Google Docs or popular alternatives like WordPerfect can help you stand out from the crowd.
Highlighting tech skills on a legal resume
Once you have identified your most marketable tech skills, the next step is to effectively highlight those skills on your legal resume. Here are some methods of doing just that.
Include tech skills in the resume summary
One way of showcasing your tech skills is by including them in your resume summary.
This section is typically only a few sentences at the top of your resume, so use this space wisely. It’s typically titled “Professional Summary,” “Professional Qualifications,” or something similar. Sometimes, people use an “Objectives” section instead.
Consider adding a line at the end of the summary which lists out your tech skills. If you feel like your tech experience is a big selling point for the jobs you’re after, you might focus primarily on those skills in this prominent part of your resume.
Create a skills section
Another method is to create a separate section for your tech skills.
This section is generally placed after the resume summary and before your relevant work experience. Format it as a bulleted list and lay out the specific tech tools in which you’re proficient.
The tech skills section can be titled “Skills” or “Core Competencies” and, for a legal professional, does not need to be expressly focused on technology alone. After all, soft skills such as leadership and management are in high demand in any legal setting.
No matter what else you include, this section gives you the chance to get specific about platforms and software you have mastered.
Think of this as a way to add keywords that a recruiter might search. That way, when a hiring manager wants to find someone who is already familiar with their systems, your resume comes up first.
Include tech proficiency examples in your work experience section
Yet another approach to highlighting tech proficiency is to include examples in your work experience.
For each employer, include any prominent tech skills you used and how they created a benefit.
Be sure to mention whether you spearheaded the implementation of any new technology for the firm, or if you were the resident expert on a system. These examples provide evidence of your tech proficiency in a way that a simple listing of skills cannot.
Other tips for showcasing tech proficiency
Other tips for showcasing your tech proficiency are a bit more subtle.
Old-fashioned email domains such as Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL, can make it appear that your tech abilities are also out of date. Accordingly, you should update your email to a Gmail address or something else more modern.
Also, leave defunct technology off your resume and avoid highlighting commonplace technologies such as email or Microsoft Word. Note that Excel skills are still relevant to include if you’re a power user.
The legal field is competitive and legal professionals need every edge they can get. Be sure you are well aware of your tech proficiencies and how to highlight them on your resume so that you can enjoy the competitive advantage you deserve.