Cover Letter Advice
The cover letter is a sample of your written work and should be brief (preferably one page), persuasive, well-reasoned, and grammatically perfect.
A good cover letter:
- Tells the employer who you are (e.g., a first-year student at YLS) and what you are seeking (e.g., a summer intern position);
- Shows that you know about the particular employer and the kind of work the employer does (i.e., civil or criminal work, direct client service, "impact" cases, antitrust litigation);
- Demonstrates your writing skills;
- Demonstrates your commitment to the work of that particular employer and converys that you have something to contribute;
- Shows that you and that employer are a good "fit;" and
- Tells the employer how to get in touch with you by email, telephone, and mail.
Determine to whom you should address the cover letter. If you are applying to law firms, address your letter to the recruiting director. For NALP member firms, use the NALP Directory to obtain contact information. (NALP also provides a useful mail merge feature for generating multiple letters). For other employers, you can refer to their websites, or contact the office to determine to whom your materials should be directed.
Although there are many ways to write a cover letter, the following format has worked well for students in the past.
- In the first paragraph of your cover letter, explain why you are sending your resume to the employer: “I am a first-year student at Yale Law School and am seeking a position with your organization for the summer 20xx.” If you are applying to public interest employers and are eligible for SPIF funding, you can mention that here.
- Use the second paragraph to explain your interest in the employer, including your interest in the employer’s geographic location, reputation, specialty area, or public service.
- In the third paragraph, stress why this employer should hire you. Elaborate on the qualifications that you possess that will make you an exceptional summer intern or attorney.
- The final paragraph should thank the employer for taking the time to review your application and tell them how to reach you. You may wish to state that you will contact the employer in a couple of weeks to follow-up and then actually do so. This is especially true with public interest employers who are often understaffed and will appreciate your extra effort.
Additional CDO Resources
Even in today’s society of online applications, it is still important to have a well-written cover letter. Many companies provide a place on their websites for candidates to upload their resumes and cover letters, and some companies even require the document before they will accept your application. Reading through our lawyer cover letter example and incorporating the included tips can help make sure your cover letter gets noticed.
- Do be genuine. Instead of using textbook phrases or over-selling yourself, being honest about your skills and using more personal language can convince your reader of your sincerity.
- Don’t overuse adverbs. Saying things like, completely ecstatic for this awesome opportunity,” can seem overeager and unprofessional.
- Do make sure you edit your work. When you are applying to law school or a law firm, it is especially important that everything is spelled correctly and is concise.
- Don’t be too generic in your greeting. If you are unsure who the hiring manager is, you can address your letter to the department head or use a title like Senior Analyst Hiring Manager” instead of just using To Whom it May Concern.”
The cover letter examples below will help you create an effective law cover letter. From experienced courtroom advocates to recent law school graduates, we’ve got you covered. Use these examples as a guide when crafting your own cover letters.
Cover Letter Tips for Lawyer
Those seeking jobs as a Lawyer should begin their search with the right actions. Be sure to take the following tips and suggestions into consideration when on a job search.
1. Know what to expect for your chosen field. Every industry is different in terms of expectations, qualifications, and hiring practices. By implementing this information in your applications, you will have an advantage.
2. Be persistent. You may not hear back from a company you apply to immediately. Never assume that you did not get the job until you are given a definitive answer. Remember that it is expected for you to follow up with a phone call.
3. Prepare yourself for a long job hunt. It is important that you do not become discouraged, as employers are looking for people with good attitudes. Additionally, you should think about how you are going to provide for yourself while searching for work.
4. Research other options. Do not get sucked into a specific job and forget that you have more opportunities. You should know what other jobs will still be beneficial for your long-term career goals.
5. Remember to build and utilize your network. Knowing someone in your chosen industry makes it significantly easier to break into. If you can get your cover letter into the hands of a hiring manager, you will have much better success.
Lawyer Job Seeking Tips
It is vital that you take the time to develop your cover letter if you are looking for jobs as a Lawyer. This is one of the most important parts of finding work, and strengthening your cover letter will lead to better success. Take a look at the following suggestions.
1. Know what employers are looking for. There is a very specific standard for cover letters that is expected you follow. If you deviate from this standard, some employers may not even bother reading your cover letter.
2. Focus on the actions you have taken while working in the past. Employers want to know what you were doing, not just your job description or information about your skills. The experience section is the best place to include this content.
3. Remember that organization is important. It is easy to focus only on the information you include and forget that it must also be organized and easy to read. Avoid clumping information into large blocks or creating gaps in content.
4. Keep an eye on the length of your cover letter. It is usually expected for a cover letter to be just one page long. If you go longer than this when your work history does not justify it, it may make it difficult for some to read your entire cover letter.
5. Always take the time to proofread your cover letter. There is no excuse for typographical errors making it into the final version.