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Tips on Reading a Resume from Outside Litigation Counsel

October 17, 2013

Statistics about resumes in general indicate that roughly three-quarters of them are misleading and more than half contain outright falsehoods. No separate statistics have been broken out for lawyer resumes, but lawyers are people and job-seekers, so beware.

For the careful reader, there are red flags. Use of the plural – “we,” “the firm has,” “the group has” – as opposed to ”I have” when describing experience or cases tried should raise questions. It is often intended to hide the fact that the person hasn’t done it individually. An interviewer should probe beyond the generality and get specifics about what the candidate has done.

Failure to list results and dates also should raise a red flag. It may be appropriate if confidentiality is an issue. However, when the word “successful” is used to describe the result of the engagement, one needs to ask what “successful” means and to whom. If the case list omits dates, you may be shocked to find that glowing achievements are many years old, and the lawyer hasn’t tried a case for years.

In-house counsel, risk managers and executives who hire outside litigation counsel, especially for major matters,  should be meticulous in reviewing res- umes. Especially in today’s era of the “vanishing trial,” those looking for trial lawyers (and not just “litigators”) should spend the time and energy to hire the right person for the job.

Failure to do so can bring unfortunate results, unnecessary expense, and indigestion.

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