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Non-Legal Ideas for Legal Resumes


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It’s no secret that legal employers are placing less emphasis on marks, and more on broad knowledge and curiosity. An obsession with commercial experience caused me to neglect a crucial question during an interview: “What do you do outside of law?” In determining whether you’ll fit into the workplace’s culture, employers are interested in knowing whether you’re a balanced person who has diverse interests. But just because they’re non-legal doesn’t mean they’re unimportant or irrelevant: many might demonstrate soft skills, such as cultural competency as well as teamwork and cohesion.

Sports

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Sport is a great interest to have on your resume because it can demonstrate teamwork and show recruiters that you know how to balance out a stressful law schedule with something constructive. It also means you can participate in inter-firm competition days. If you're in need of some tongue-in-cheek tips, check out a SurviveLaw article on the sports that law students should ace (but whether they do is questionable).

Volunteering

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Non-legal volunteering not only shows that you care about causes other than the law, but also that you may have harnessed soft skills like communication, cultural competency, and dealing with a variety of personalities. For example, Lifeline Telephone counselling would be a strong addition to a resume because you will have undertaken a short training course on the necessary skills, and it demonstrates your ability to handle high-pressure situations.

Travel

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You might be surprised to hear this, but it actually takes some skill to travel! For example, travelling demonstrates resourcefulness, organisational skills, the capacity to quickly engage with a foreign culture, and most importantly, a global field of vision. If you completed a semester abroad or undertook short-term exchange, that definitely kills two birds (education and travelling) with one stone. Travelling can demonstrate your awareness and appreciation of other countries’ customs, which can be helpful particularly when applying for a firm with an international presence.

Language

If you speak languages other than English, mention this! Employers highly value multilingualism because it allows lawyers to competently engage with deals in growing economies overseas. In the UK, proficiency in Asian languages is especially prized, and in Australia, bilingual lawyers have a competitive edge. And no, “legalese” doesn’t count - that’s a given.

Significant Endeavours

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Have you hiked one of the seven summits? Or do you have any other quirky or impressive achievements or interests? You should include them. It can make you stand out as a candidate because of what it says about your personality. For instance, MinterEllison, which ranked third in the 2015 Lawyers Weekly Attraction Firm Survey, says that stronger candidates will demonstrate their loyalty to a particular cause - or something that “makes them tick”.

It’s exceedingly difficult to capture yourself in one or two pages. However, these non-legal interests and activities would definitely go some way in helping you accomplish that.

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