General Counsel Resume Example & Writing Guide

Use this General Counsel resume example and guide to improve your career and write a powerful resume that will separate you from the competition.

The role of general counsel is multifaceted, but it’s one of the most important positions in any company. As the top lawyer on staff, general counsels are responsible for advising their companies on legal matters big and small. They’re also tasked with protecting their organizations from legal liabilities, ensuring that they follow all relevant regulations and laws, and helping their companies avoid costly lawsuits.

Because of the high stakes and complex nature of this job, most general counsels have years of experience under their belts before they land their first role. And while experience is important, a resume for this role should also reflect your legal expertise, as well as your ability to manage complex projects. Here are some tips and an example to help you write a compelling general counsel resume that will get you noticed by hiring managers everywhere.

Jennifer Thomas
Los Angeles, CA | (123) 456-7891 | [email protected]

Seasoned general counsel with more than 10 years of experience in a broad range of industries, including technology, healthcare, and financial services. Proven ability to provide legal guidance and support to executive teams, manage outside counsel, and drive business objectives.

University of California, Hastings College of the Law Jun '10
University of California, Berkeley Jun '06
B.A. in Political Science
Company A, General Counsel Jan '17 – Current
  • Led the legal function for a $1B+ SaaS company, including corporate development and M&A transactions, intellectual property portfolio management, vendor contracts, privacy policy compliance, data security & GDPR readiness.
  • Managed outside counsel on matters related to mergers & acquisitions (M&A), general corporate law issues such as entity formation and governance, employment law issues such as non-compete agreements and severance arrangements with employees.
  • Oversaw all aspects of the company’s IP strategy from patent prosecution through licensing negotiations and enforcement actions in federal court or at the International Trade Commission (ITC).
  • Negotiated strategic partnerships with other companies that included technology licensing deals, joint marketing agreements, co-marketing campaigns and cross-selling opportunities between our two platforms.
  • Advised senior leadership on business decisions regarding new products/services launches; international expansion strategies; financing alternatives; etc., based upon applicable laws and regulations in multiple jurisdictions where we do business.
Company B, General Counsel Jan '12 – Dec '16
  • Spearheaded the implementation of a new company-wide policy on sexual harassment, resulting in an 88% decrease in reported incidents
  • Oversaw all litigation and arbitration proceedings for the company’s $1B+ portfolio of assets
  • Managed day-to-day operations of legal department with 10+ employees (including paralegals and administrative staff)
  • Collaborated closely with senior management to develop strategic plans for long-term growth initiatives
  • Created comprehensive training program for all new hires that included mock trials and practice negotiations
Company C, Paralegal Jan '09 – Dec '11
  • Conducted interviews with clients, witnesses, and experts to obtain information relevant to the case.
  • Researched and analyzed legal sources such as statutes, judicial decisions, and legal articles to prepare arguments and position statements.
  • Drafted legal documents such as briefs, pleadings, appeals, and contracts.
  • Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US)
  • Certified International Trade Compliance Professional (CITCP)
  • Certified Corporate Counsel (CCC)

Industry Knowledge: Corporate Law, Securities Law, Intellectual Property Law, Civil Litigation, Litigation Management, Commercial Law, Litigation Strategy
Technical Skills: Business Law, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Microsoft Office Suite, Legal Databases
Soft Skills: Communication, Research, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Negotiation, Leadership

How to Write a General Counsel Resume

Here’s how to write a general counsel resume of your own.

Write Compelling Bullet Points

Bullet points are the most important part of your resume because they’re the first thing recruiters and hiring managers will see. And they’re the best way to showcase your experience and qualifications.

But many lawyers make the mistake of using generic bullet points that don’t really tell a story or provide any context. For example, rather than saying you “provided legal counsel,” you could say you “provided legal counsel for $10B merger of two of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, resulting in no litigation or regulatory issues.”

The second bullet point is much more interesting and provides more detail about what you did and the outcome of your work.

Identify and Include Relevant Keywords

When you apply for a general counsel role, your resume will likely go through an applicant tracking system (ATS). This software scans your resume for certain keywords related to the job opening. If your resume doesn’t include enough of the right keywords, your application might not make it past the first screening.

To increase your chances of getting an interview, use these commonly used general counsel keywords as a starting point and then add in other relevant terms that are specific to your work history:

  • Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Law
  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)
  • Legal Advice
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Civil Litigation
  • Legal Research
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Due Diligence
  • Contract Negotiation
  • Litigation
  • Intellectual Property
  • Competition Law
  • Licensing
  • Legal Writing
  • Business Strategy
  • Legal Compliance
  • Privacy Law
  • Privacy Policy
  • Trade Secrets
  • Entertainment Law
  • Entertainment Industry
  • Entertainment
  • Contract Law
  • Law
  • Film
  • Legal Issues
  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Litigation Management
  • International Law

Showcase Your Technical Skills

As a general counsel, you are responsible for providing legal advice to your organization. In order to do this effectively, you need to be proficient in a variety of software programs and systems. This might include familiarity with legal research databases, case management software, or contract management tools. Additionally, general counsels need to be familiar with the laws and regulations that are specific to their industry.


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