How To Write a CV for Young Nigerian Professionals

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First click here for an understanding of the skills your law CV should showcase.

 

  1. Personal Details

Full name (First name then surname in ALL CAPS, e.g. Bolanle ADEBIYI)

Home address

Email address and telephone number

  • Use a professional email address (e.g. bolanleadebiyi@gmail.com instead of sexybaristerbolz@gmail.com)
  • Depending on the sophistication of the law office, you should not be required to include your gender, religion or marital status. However check with the employer beforehand. You may include your date of birth.

 

  1. Profile

This is an optional bio on the applicant. It summarises the personal attributes, skills and experience you feel are most relevant to the position, and outlines the type of opportunity you are seeking. Our view is that a profile in a CV is redundant; however it serves as a summary of your CV and can assist the recruiter in deciding if they want to proceed with reading the CV.

 

A couple of points to note when writing a profile for law CV:

  1. write in third person (i.e. “She is” instead of “I am”)
  2. keep it to a maximum of four sentences
  • be intentional; do not list qualities that the experiences on your CV do not demonstrate.

 

Bolanle is a Bar Part II candidate at the Nigerian Law School, Enugu with extensive internship experience in (area of law). She possesses a genuine interest and understanding of (area of law) and is keen to take up challenging opportunities within this sector. She is an enthusiastic and fast learner and…

 

As mentioned in (iii) above, on the basis of this profile, Bolanle must be able to show (a) that she has undertaken several internships, (b) her interest in and understanding of her chosen area of law, and (c) her enthusiasm and ability to learn quickly.

 

  1. Education

This should be listed in reverse chronological order, i.e. starting with your most recent qualification and ending with your earliest qualification.

Please note that it is not necessary to include qualifications that go beyond the SSCE/WAEC/GCSE level. In our view, even this is not necessary. If you choose to however, it is sufficient to simply state the number of subjects and grades – you do not need to list the subjects taken.

 

If you have started but not yet finished a qualification, you should still include it in this section.

 

LLB Law (2:1), University of Enugu                                               2016 – 2017

Subject studied – [list all subjects]

Some of the optional modules undertaken include Medical Law, Maritime Law and Construction Law.

My project/dissertation was titled…

I took part in various extracurricular activities including the Debate Society, the Law Society and the Moot Club.

I was awarded…

 

  1. Work experience

This is one of the most important sections of your CV. Please note the following when putting together your work experience:

 

  1. it should also be in reverse chronological order
  2. your CV stands out better if you can show both what you did and the skills gained
  • if one of the organizations you listed is not well known, you should explain what the organization does. Also, if the organization is a large one (e.g. a multinational) you should identify the department you worked in
  1. the work experience listed here does not have to be legal, but you should find a way to show how the skills and lessons gained would enable you perform better as a lawyer
  2. you may include participation in societies and school clubs in this section. This is also a good way to demonstrate leadership or teamwork skills
  3. include any special recognition obtained during your time at the place of employment

 

Adebiyi & Adebiyi Law Chambers  07/2016 – 08/2016

I undertook a six-week internship at Adebiyi & Adebiyi Law Chambers in Abeokuta.

I attended court hearings on a variety of issues and subject matter at the National Industrial Court, Federal High Court and Customary Court of Appeal.

I assisted lawyers in preparing for court by proofreading papers to be filed and carrying out research.

This experience enabled me to further develop my attention to detail and research skills as I was required to review voluminous documents for typographical errors, and carry out research on tricky topics with a tight deadline.

 

  1. Skills and Certification

Use this section to highlight other skills and competencies you have. Make sure you are able to sell the relevance of this skill to the interviewer, and also prove you actually have the skill if the need arises. (Do not say you speak French if you did not go past JSS2 French class; you will be asked!) You may also use this section to mention any relevant certification.

Skills

  1. French – intermediary
  2. Microsoft Office – expert

Certifications

  1. “How to be a better lawyer” (2018) – Legally Engaged
  2. “Microsoft Office Overview” (2014) – University of Nigeria

 

  1. Interests and Activities

There are very few firms that want to hire a boring robot. (There are some but we have resisted the urge to name them!) Any firm worth your time would be keen to employ people from diverse backgrounds and with an assortment of interests and hobbies.

Here, you want to include extracurricular activities that you are involved in. These do not necessarily need to be law related, but remember to keep it clean and professional (watching movies does not cut it). Also, do not lazily provide a list with words like ‘reading’, ‘going out, ‘playing various sports’ and ‘socialising with friends’.

You can also stand out my subtly highlighting how skills gained even from your hobbies are useful for life as a lawyer.

Running – I am a member of the Calabar Women’s’ Runners Association. In 2015, I held the title of “Fastest Long Distance”.

Baking – I enjoy baking and in my time at university, I sold confectionery to raise extra money to fund my living expenses.

  1. References

Here, you may include the names of two referees (one academic and one professional). Please note that it is improper to put someone’s name down as a referee without their permission. You do not need to indicate that references are available on request; if and when the firm requires references, they will ask for them.

 

Yimika is the Founder of Legally Engaged and an Associate in the Corporate/Commercial law arm of a top-tier Nigerian law firm.

She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, compliance, etc.

She also seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers, and make better career decisions.

Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.

 

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There are 9 comments

  1. I’ve always been a bit “hmm hmm” about including Gender, Marital Status, DOB, State of origin etc etc on a CV. I feel you should be hired solely on competence and qualification. Thank you for including this statement — “Depending on the sophistication of the law office, you should not be required to include your gender, religion or marital status.”
    ..If only Nigerian Law School could incorporate that into their Prof. Ethics lecture on CV writing :s

    Reply
  2. Please can you also make a post concerning courses or conferences a fresh Nigerian law graduate can take or attend to serve as an addition to the degree and also boost one’s CV. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. legallyengaged

      Not at all.
      We’ve seen that if an organisation requires references, (and they seldom do for entry-level positions), they will ask at the point where they are considering making an offer.

      Reply
  3. Could you please give more insight as writing a CV as a first time intern. With the examples above, I observed that they are tailored towards those that have interned before. What must I include in my CV that will increase my chances of securing an internship. Thank you.

    Reply

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