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    Thursday
    Oct202011

    « Legal Resumes 101.4 – Choice of Resume »

    Attorneys essentially have three options when it comes to choosing a resume structure: 

    • Traditional reverse-chronological resume
    • Functional resume
    • Hybrid resume

    When to Opt for the Traditional Resume Approach

    If you are a 3L and have gone straight through school without a break in the working world, the traditional, reverse-chronological resume will likely serve you best.  It is what employers expect to see from you and you will have met their expectations.  You likely will not have had sufficient, “meaty” work experience at this stage of your life to warrant another approach.  Summer associate, clerk and intern positions rarely merit enough consideration to justify the detail that would justify an alternative approach.

    If you are a law graduate who has been unemployed or seriously underemployed since law school, you are also a candidate for a traditional resume.  Your situation is little different from the 3L described above.  In other words, you have not yet amassed sufficient gravitas or heft to necessitate an other-than-traditional approach.

    Forget Ever Using a Pure Functional Resume

    There is a reason why I abhor the use of a purely functional resume.  It looks as if you trying to hide something negative about you if you do not mention the places you have worked.  If a career advisor suggests this method, run the other way. 

    When a Hybrid Approach Serves You Best

    The hybrid strategy is almost always beneficial in every instance other than those described above.  That means:

    • If you have had more than one good work experience after law school, or
    • If you had a career before or during law school.

    What Does a Hybrid Resume Look Like?

    The first item the prospective employer should see following your identifying information and Profile at the top would be a heading entitled “Employment History.”  This should be followed by a simple, streamlined listing of the employers for whom you have worked, your job title, the geographic locations and your dates of employment, e.g.:

    Employment History

    • Employment Counsel, Globalization Bancorporation, Santa Monica, CA 2008 – Present
    • Special Assistant to the Deputy General Counsel, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Washington, DC, 2006 – 2008
    • Staff Attorney, Virginia State Banking Commission, Richmond, VA, 2004 – 2006

    What this does is quickly ease any employer concerns that you are trying to hide something about your employment history.  You will have gotten this facet of the resume out of the way at the top, so that you can now go on to more important information, namely the functional skills, knowledge, capabilities, etc., that you possess regardless of when you acquired them.

    The hybrid approach is tremendously advantageous for individuals for whom it makes sense because it liberates them from the rigorous constraints of the reverse chronology.  You get to decide what is the most important information about you that you want to make sure an employer sees, and you also get to determine which functional attributes you want to emphasize.  The hybrid approach also allows you to change your tactics to target yourself most effectively to every employer to whom you apply.

    The flexibility afforded by the hybrid approach is a huge advantage in the legal job market.  Say, for example, that the candidate whose Employment History is listed above, developed expertise in labor and employment law as well as other substantive and technical legal skills areas.  Here is what she might say in her Work Experience section, which would immediately follow Employment History:

    Labor and Employment

    • Responsible for all employment law and related matters for large, international financial firm.
    • Advise General Counsel and C-level officers on the resolution of labor, employment and corporate legal issues, taking into consideration legal, business and political implications.
    • Monitor sensitive employment cases and review all settlement documents to ensure consistency and that appropriate management action is taken.
    • Participate in planning sessions to prepare for collective bargaining negotiations with employee unions.  Worked directly with outside counsel in preparing a legal brief for the arbitrator which presented legal arguments and provided information about the FDIC and its operational environment.
    • Developed labor and employment training materials and coordinated employee training.
    • Coordinated efforts to revise FDIC’s Affirmative Employment and Procurement Plans to ensure compliance with current law and regulation.  Prepared talking points for senior executives on affirmative employment, procurement and diversity.
    • Served on cross-divisional group tasked with developing various human resource initiatives to support corporate change, both organizational and cultural.  Initiatives included successful implementation of organizational mergers as well as development of a “corporate university” and an executive compensation plan.
    • Recognized by Senior Executive Diversity Steering Committee for two consecutive years for contributions to corporate-wide efforts in developing and implementing FDIC’s first diversity strategic plan, including identifying strategic areas, goals and objectives for the plan and devising communications strategy.  Legal representative on a Diversity Measurement working group tasked with measuring progress of diversity initiatives. 

    Litigation/Outside Counsel Management

    • Selected and managed outside employment counsel and strategized corporate defenses.
    • Conducted study of corporate outside counsel management function and recommended efficiency, productivity and internal control improvements, which were adopted.
    • Worked directly with outside counsel in preparing a legal brief for the arbitrator which presented legal arguments and provided information about the FDIC and its operations.
    • Prepared responses to numerous Office of Inspector General audits of outside counsel fee bills.  Identified common audit findings and determined what measures to take to correct underlying issues, whether through policy implementation or clarification of existing policy.  OIG ultimately used the Legal Division outside counsel program as a model for effective internal controls.
    • Prepared responses to Congressional inquiries on legal fees and expenses paid to minority and women-owned law firms.  Agency won government-wide award for its diversity efforts.

    Crisis Management

    • Confronted with a rapidly rising portfolio of bank failures, monitored liquidity of financial institutions placed in receivership, and approved and monitored disbursement of funds for institutions with no other source of funds.  Maintained lending documents to protect FDIC’s interest.  Forecasted agencies needs for funds for conservatorship and receivership activities, requested borrowings from the Treasury Department, and tracked borrowings to ensure statutory ceiling was not exceeded.
    • Served as liaison to the public, industry and trade organizations and other parties to facilitate resolution of issues arising in business dealings with the FDIC.  Effective resolution required extensive knowledge of rapidly evolving FDIC programs and operations.

    Transition Planning and Implementation

    • Served on Office of General Counsel team tasked with developing and implementing a transition plan to minimize risk in the transition of legal matters to OGC following acquisitions. 
    • Developed transition plans for 16 substantive legal areas at Headquarters and comprehensive plans for the each of the five field Service Centers, which greatly contributed to a smooth transition with minimal disruption in legal services.
    • The tremendous flexibility that such an approach offers should be readily apparent from the above example.  The candidate can move both headings and bullets within each heading around for greatest impact on a prospective employer, and can even devise new headings to suit different employer targets.

    The tremendous flexibility that such an approach offers should be readily apparent from the above example.  The candidate can move both headings and bullets within each heading around for greatest impact on a prospective employer, and can even devise new headings to suit different employer targets.

     Next:  Legal Resumes 101.5 – Rising Above Your Competition