Cover Letter Advice & Samples
Cover letter advice and samples.
- Draft your cover letter knowing it is your first writing sample.
- Understand that a cover letter should persuade the reader.
- Use the cover letter to “connect the dots” of your experiences.
- Resist the temptation to restate your resume.
- Keep your cover letter to one page.
- Use the font style and point size that match your resume.
- Remember that the reader is busy: less is more.
- Ensure your cover letter is error free.
Cover Letter Construction
Address block and salutation.
- Address the cover letter to an actual person.
- Research websites or call employer to determine recipient’s name.
- If you cannot find the name of a hiring contact, address your letter to the head of the unit, department, or office.
- While this is the least-preferred option, you may address your letter to “Dear Hiring Committee” if you cannot locate the name of an actual person.
- For firms, address your letter to the recruiting director. For larger firms, contact information for recruiting directors is available at www.nalpdirectory.com in the Basic Information section.
- In the salutation, include the recipient’s title and last name (e.g., “Dear Ms. Raintree”) or write the recipient’s entire name (e.g., “Dear Jamie Morales”).
- Tell the employer who you are and what you are seeking.
- Highlight (past, present, and future) geographic connections.
- Indicate if you have talked to students/faculty/friends/alumni who speak highly of the organization.
- Show that you understand the employer’s mission/practice, the work its attorneys do, and the clients it serves.
- Demonstrate your proven interest in and connection to that mission/practice, work, and clients.
- Describe skills you will contribute to support that mission/practice, work, and clients.
- Provide evidence from your experiences and coursework.
- List the documents included with the letter.
- Tell the employer how to get in touch with you by email, telephone, and mail.
- Convey your availability for a conversation, mentioning upcoming trips to the area.
- Thank the employer for considering you.
- Mention availability of Yale summer funding, if applicable.
- Optional: Promise that you will follow up in a few weeks if you think the employer would appreciate the diligence.
Sample Cover Letters (PDF)
First Year Student Examples | Second Year Student Examples | Third Year Student Examples
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How To Write A Legal Job Cover Letter (With Examples)
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Find a Job You Really Want In
While your application shows hiring managers that you check their boxes, your cover letter shows them why they should hire you over any other highly qualified candidate. For this reason, it’s important to write a solid cover letter when you’re applying for a legal job.
To help you with this, we’ve put together some instructions and tips on how to write an excellent legal job cover letter. We’ve also included an example letter to give you an idea of what yours should look like.
Use your cover letter to show why you’re the best candidate for this particular job at this particular law firm.
Your cover letter should highlight and expand upon your most impressive and relevant qualifications — don’t try to fit everything on your resume into your letter.
Match your cover letter to the position by focusing on how you meet the qualifications listed in the job description and the firm’s cultural values.
How to Write a Legal Job Cover Letter
Cover letter example, tips for writing a legal job cover letter.
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Use correct legal cover letter format. Like all legal documents, legal cover letters need to be precisely formatted . Your legal job cover letter isn’t the place to show off unique and creative layouts, as it is quite a formal and traditional industry. A cover letter with sloppy formatting isn’t likely to be taken very seriously.
Use a simple, professional font such as Helvetica with 1.15-inch line spacing and one-inch margins on all sides.
Match the header to your resume. For a professional cover letter, you’re going to want to make sure that all the details — both visually and in content — match your resume. Your resume and cover letter should look like two halves of the same whole.
Aside from ensuring that all your information matches that listed on your resume , a legal cover letter has all of the following in this order:
Your full name (You generally want to make this the largest piece of text on your cover letter)
Your current occupation (Optional)
Your address, city, state, and zip code
Your phone number
Any other relevant contact information or social media (Optional)
The full name of the person who will be reading your cover letter. If you don’t know who to address your letter to , try looking online for the hiring manager ’s name at the law firm you’re applying to.
The title of the person reading your cover letter. E.g. “hiring manager” or “ partner ”
The name of the law firm or organization
The address, city, state, and zip code of the law firm or organization
Start with a personal greeting. Addressing your cover letter is pretty straightforward, given you know the name of the person you will be speaking to. Use the format “Dear Ms./Mr./Mx. [full name or last name of partner or hiring manager],” for an always appropriate yet personal greeting.
If you have a prior relationship with this person, you can consider addressing it “Dear [first name],” but tread very carefully with this one. As discussed, the legal profession tends to be more formal, and thus traditional greetings are often more appropriate.
Introduce yourself and specify the position you’re applying for. In the first sentence of the first paragraph, you’ll want to introduce yourself in a basic way and clearly identify the position you’re applying to. You don’t need to re-state your name, but just give a small piece of info about who you are.
It’s important to state clearly and upfront the specific position you’re applying to, as that’s the reason you’re writing this letter and a point you really want to land.
Explain why this position and law firm matter to you. Talk about the job and the company as you understand them. The person reading your cover letter will want to know why you applied to this specific job at this particular organization. So let them know why you would value this job and be a great fit.
Company’s not only want to find someone who is a dedicated, experienced worker, but they want someone who will be a good “ culture fit .” This means that they want someone whose values and goals align with that of the company.
Highlight your best, relevant skills and experience. At the heart of your cover letter is the chance to detail and explain your skills and experience. The way you choose to describe what you’ve done and the knowledge you possess can significantly impact how others view your experience.
Try to re-state the requirements and qualifications listed in the job posting, and explain how you align with these. You’re going to want to use the exact language they used in their posting to ensure that your application doesn’t get passed over by any kind of software they may be using to screen applicants .
Focus on them and how you can serve them. Psychologically, humans tend to be most focused on and interested in themselves and their own lives. With this principle, you can get a hiring manager to read on in your cover letter by simply focusing on the organization, why they’re great, and how you can help them be even better.
A little bit of flattery goes a long way. Try mentioning successes or achievements in the company’s history or the company philosophy. This shows that you are not only aware of what this company does, but you value it.
Include a call to action at the end. A good ending for a cover letter is crucial. You’ve already gotten past the hard part, which is getting them to read the contents of your letter. You know they are at least partially interested in hiring you, so now’s the time to put a little pressure on them.
End with a professional closing. After you’ve written the body of your letter , include an appropriate professional closing to tie it all together. Something like “respectfully,” “kind regards,” or “sincerely.” Anything that you think is appropriately formal.
Proofread for perfect spelling and grammar. Your final step is to proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure all the spelling, grammar, and details are correct and accurate. It’s imperative to make sure that your cover letter looks polished and professional.
To be sure you’re including everything you need to and doing it all right, review the example below. This cover letter demonstrates proper formatting and makes good use of the above tips.
Begin with this sample, which you’re free to take inspiration from, then use the above steps and other cover letter tips to create a perfect cover letter all your own.
Leah Kim Lewis Clark Law School Student 618 Seneca Drive Portland, OR 97205 503-998-0286 [email protected] 10/29/20 Wilma Corwin Partner The Immigration Law Office of Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin 919 Hope Street Portland, OR 97204 Dear Ms. Corwin, I’m a second-year honors student at Lewis Clark Law School, and I’m writing to apply for your 2021 summer internship position. I first learned about the incredible work of Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin during Janet Leech’s lecture for the Lewis Clark Law Society last year. After noting my continued interest, Ms. Leech recently informed me that your office has begun accepting admissions for the summer internship program. I’m eager to use my passion for immigration and public interest law, research and writing skills, and case preparation experience to assist your office in smoothly and efficiently serving its clients. Since attending Ms. Leech’s lecture, I have been intensely fascinated with Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin’s creative solutions motto. In my work, both on-campus and off, I’ve demonstrated the innovative thinking, leadership drive, and excellent communication skills you require for your interns. During my time as a student, I optimized the LC Law Society legal journal and won three legal writing competitions at the state level. As an intern for Stoltenberg-Gibson, I participated in drafting legal research and helped prepare and assign around 50 cases. I bring not only academic and professional experience but real-life experience as well. As a second-generation immigrant, I am passionate about serving local immigrant communities. In my volunteer work, I’ve utilized my fluent Korean language skills and my written and verbal communication skills to advocate for five immigrant families. I am eager to take on any translation, intake, research, organization, or case preparation work. I am excited to be applying to such a well-known and well-regarded law office. Thank you so much for your consideration of this application. My resume and enclosed references will further demonstrate why I would be a great fit for your summer internship position. I would love to schedule a call or meeting to discuss how my writing and advocacy skills can assist the Immigration Law Office of Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin to offer creative strategies to their clients. Respectfully, Leah Kim Lewis Clark Law School Student 503-998-0286 [email protected]
Customize your letter. If your cover letter is too generic, hiring managers will wonder if you actually care about the position you’re applying for or if you just want a paycheck.
Research the law firm you’re applying to to find out what they value in their culture and what they’re looking for in an employee, and then talk about how you’d fulfill those.
Keep it short. Your cover letter should only be one page long, so there is no room to beat around the bush. Be personable but brief in your writing so that you can make the most of the space you have.
Match your tone to the law firm. Every law firm has its own voice and culture, which you’ll probably notice when you read through a few different firms’ websites. Pay attention to the tone the firm you’re applying to uses, and then try to match that in your letter.
Highlight your skills. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to remember. Use your cover letter to talk about what makes you special as a candidate and what you’d add to the organization.
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Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.
Matt Warzel a President of a resume writing firm (MJW Careers, LLC) with 15+ years of recruitment, outplacement, career coaching and resume writing experience. Matt is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing Focus) from John Carroll University.
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Free Cover Letter Templates
How To Address A Cover Letter (With Examples)
How To Write A Cover Letter Opening (With Examples)
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Whether you’re a fresh grad just starting out or a legal professional seeking a new role, a cover letter is a must. Finding attractive positions in this competitive environment is challenging, but with the right techniques, it can be overcome.
A cover letter is important to get right for job seekers. It’s an introduction to your prospective employers and your opportunity to make a great first impression.
Here are our tips for writing a cover letter that will get your resume read and prompt the call for the interview.
Why a Strong Cover Letter Matters
The economic fallout from COVID-19 is still upon us, and the shift to remote or hybrid work made the market more competitive for job seekers . The legal market isn’t immune to this, but people still need legal expertise, and law firms still need legal professionals to serve them.
When employers have a mountain of applications to narrow, a cover letter could mean the difference between being in the “interview” pile or getting an automated rejection response — or none at all. Cover letters are often read before the resume and entice the employer to look further.
The days of mailing hard-copy cover letters may have passed, but the modern equivalent in an email message or online application still serves its purpose.
What Is a Cover Letter for Lawyers?
No matter the industry, cover letters should always be tailored to the prospective employer. In this case, the cover letter is an opportunity to match your skills, connections, and passion for the law to the law firm’s needs.
Your cover letter should be:
Personalized: Customize your cover letter to the tone of the firm and the skills you have that are listed in the job description.
Brief: Keep it short and simple. Your cover letter should only be one page, if not less, and hit on all the points that make you an attractive candidate. Avoid the urge to just summarize your resume and overwhelm the reader.
Positive: This is an opportunity to highlight how your past educational and professional experiences give you a unique edge over the other candidates, and why you’re the best fit for the position.
Professional: Writing professionally is essential for lawyers. Keep your cover letter professional to showcase that you have this necessary skill set.
How to Address a Cover Letter for Lawyers
Addressing the cover letter correctly is a must to set the right tone for the reader. It doesn’t say much for your attention to detail if you don’t get the basics right.
Do your research and address the cover letter to the specific person in charge of hiring, such as the hiring manager or partner. If you’re not sure, look on the firm’s website, check LinkedIn, or contact human resources to find out. This will make a much better impression than “to whom this may concern.”
For the salutation, make sure to show respect for the reader to reinforce your attention to detail. For example, if you know the preferred gender prefix for the recipient, you may use “Ms.” or “Mr.” If you’re not sure, don’t assume! Just write the person’s full first and last name, being careful of correct spelling.
Cover Letter Introduction
The cover letter’s opening paragraph must capture the attention of the reader. Introduce who you are and why you’re a good fit for the firm. Mention your current position, such as a new law school graduate or an associate at a firm.
If you have mutual acquaintances or referrals, mention them right away. Then, discuss the specific reasons you’re a good fit for the firm.
Cover Letter Body
The body of the cover letter is where the bulk of your summary will go. In just a paragraph or two, give an overview of your education and experience to show why you want to work for the firm and why you’re an ideal fit.
For example, discuss the reasons you want to work for this firm specifically. Maybe it has a great reputation or you admire a lawyer who works there. Maybe the practice areas align with your desired career path.
When you’re connecting yourself to the role, use some key attributes that the firm is looking for that you possess. These may include academic or research specializations, community service history, past legal positions, publications, or awards.
This is also a great place to speak about your familiarity with legal technology. With more than 65% of law firms citing they use law practice management software, it’s worth highlighting your experience in the cover letter.
Pro Tip : Set yourself apart by getting a certification in law practice management software. PracticePanther is trusted by tens of thousands of lawyers and offers a comprehensive certification program. The program is free and you can work at your pace.
Again, don’t just summarize your resume. The hiring team can look at your resume independently. This is your opportunity to capture attention by putting your resume and experience into context and connecting it to the specific position.
Cover Letter Conclusion
The concluding paragraph is where you wrap everything up and make a positive impression. Make sure to say thank you for their consideration and outline your next steps. You don’t have to wait endlessly for an answer to your application — be clear about how and when you intend to follow up. Make sure you keep your word!
Finally, make sure your cover letter has relevant contact details, including your phone number, email, and address. These may be included in the header in a conventional letter format, but if not, put them at the bottom of the letter where they’re readily available for the hiring manager.
Tips to Stand Out
The legal industry keeps evolving. Candidates need to set themselves apart to get hired, no matter the circumstances. Here are some tips:
Keep it human: Many of the candidates you’ll be up against have similar education and experience, so simply highlighting these aspects won’t help you stand out. The cover letter is where you can showcase how you are different and what you have to offer that other candidates may not.
Stay succinct: You don’t want to overwhelm the reader with a long and drawn-out cover letter. Keep it short and to the point — you want to be memorable. Challenge yourself to stay under a page to see how well you can summarize your unique value.
Set the tone: It’s vital that you are professional in your cover letter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean formal. If the firm you’re applying to takes a more casual or personable tone, it’s best to mimic that in your cover letter. If the firm is large and prestigious, it may be best to speak formally. The firm websites should give you some insight.
Always proofread: The worst thing you could do in your cover letter is have typos and grammatical errors. There’s a lot of competition, not to mention that lawyers and legal professionals need to have command of the English language for their job responsibilities. Proofread, and if possible, enlist someone’s help to catch any errors, awkward phrasing, or ambiguities.
Sample Cover Letters for Inspiration
Drawing a blank on what to say? Here’s some inspiration from sample cover letters for lawyers with different educational backgrounds and experiences.
Law student cover letter
Graduate with previous experience cover letter
Experienced IP attorney cover letter
Let these samples inspire you to construct a compelling cover letter that gets you into the “interview” pile.
Being a job seeker in a competitive market is challenging, but taking the time and care to draft a well-written and personalized cover letter is the best way to get yourself noticed and get the interview.
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A Sample Cover Letter for Legal Job Seekers
Follow a format and keep it succinct
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Sally A. Kane, JD. is an attorney, editor, and writer who has two decades of experience in the legal services industry and has published hundreds of career-related articles.
A good cover letter or introductory letter for attorneys is an invitation to the reader—the hiring manager or maybe the senior partner of the law firm—to move on and read your resume. It's your opportunity to convince her that she simply has to meet you and learn more about you. But too much creativity can be a drawback.
You'll want to exude professionalism and temper your enthusiasm just a bit, and you'll want to follow a tried-and-true format.
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
Include your full name, and be sure to use the one under which you've been admitted to the bar if you're a lawyer. Give your street address, not a P.O. box, including your city, state, and zip code. Include your phone number with a notation as to whether it's a cell phone or a landline. Give your email address—many employers prefer to reach out to interesting candidates by email first.
Enter the date below this information, then the name and address of the law firm. Below that, enter an "ATTN:" line with the name of the individual within the firm who will be reading your letter. Alternatively, you can name the individual on the first line and cite her position directly beneath this, above the company name. Both formats are acceptable.
Of course, you'll start out with "Dear [Insert name of hiring manager or partner]:" Now it's time to get down to business.
Your Opening Paragraph
State the position for which you're applying in your opening paragraph, and explain how you learned of the job opening. This is also a good place to mention the name of anyone who referred you, a mutual acquaintance, or perhaps a tidbit of knowledge you have about the firm—maybe a major case they won or legal argument they made. This demonstrates that you took time to do a little research.
Try to craft your opening in a compelling way that will encourage the reader to read on. It's OK to toot your own horn a little. For example, you might say: “As an award-winning paralegal with 20 years of personal injury experience , I am writing in response to the position of litigation paralegal advertised in the Main Street Legal Journal .”
Explain Your Skills
Use the next paragraph to detail your education and your experience. Keep in mind that this is all mentioned in your resume as well, so you're not going to go into every finer detail here.
Your letter should offer a brief summary of what the reader will learn if he looks at your resume next: what law school you graduated from, where you're admitted to the bar, where you've worked, and what you did for those law firms. Try to confine all this to no more than four sentences if possible.
Next, match your skills to the requirements of the position and highlight any relevant awards you've received, as well as other accomplishments. Support your statements with evidence whenever possible. Don't merely assert that you're a skilled writer. Back it up with some sort of proof. Mention that you won two legal writing competitions and have published over 100 articles.
Don't just say that you contributed to your previous company's bottom line. Note that you implemented new software that saved the legal department over a million dollars.
Make Sure Your Reader Reads On
Use your closing paragraph to thank the firm for considering your application and tell your reader why you would make a good addition to his team. Explain how your background, skills, experience, and past achievements make you the perfect candidate for the job.
Then request a meeting or an interview. Indicate how and when you'll follow up on your cover letter and be sure to mention the best way to reach you. This would be a good place to direct the reader to your P.O. box if your physical address isn't your mailing address but you want to receive notification of a potential interview by snail mail.
The Finishing Touch
Sign off with "Respectfully yours" or something equally formal, place your signature above your name, then add the all-important "Enclosure(s)" line. List and bring attention to everything you're including with the letter, in order.
Proofread...Then Proofread Again
All this effort is for naught if your reader doesn't go on to look at your resume and any other documents you've included. Minor, avoidable errors can cause him to put your letter—and your resume—aside after one glance.
You're looking for a job in the legal profession, and this means you should possess good attention to detail and some superior writing skills. Check for typos—they'll jump out at you more readily if you go back to it cold, perhaps the next day, not right after you wrote it. Check for grammatical mistakes and proper punctuation. Now you're ready to send it off.
Review an Example
Below is an example of a cover letter for a legal position. You can also download our free template.
Cover Letter Sample for a Legal Position (Text Version)
Jennifer Elliot 1890 Grant Street, Cleveland, OH 44109 555-555-5555 (C) email: email@example.com
March 23, 2019
The Law Firm of Goode, Justiss, and Fine 1234 Simpson Avenue Cleveland, OH 44109 ATTN: Ms. Leslie Fine
Dear Ms. Fine:
It is with much enthusiasm that I am submitting to you my application for the position of Junior Associate Attorney that has recently opened at Goode, Justiss, and Fine. I am currently serving as a Law Clerk for Henry Mason, Chief Judge of the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. When he heard through the grapevine that this position at your immigration law firm would be opening, Judge Mason alerted me to the opportunity and has offered to serve as a professional reference on my behalf.
During my recent JD studies at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, I discovered a passion for immigration law, focusing my program of studies in this area; I will be graduating with a 3.89 GPA next week, and am scheduled to take the Ohio State bar exam in April. Prior to my legal studies, I was a paralegal for the commercial litigation firm of Hatchett, Garner, and Winn Attorneys for six years, where I managed a caseload of ~70 cases, earned my certification form ACEDS as a Certified E-Discovery Specialist, and trained the firm’s attorneys in the use of the Symantec e-Discovery Platform.
I can thus bring to you “real world” experience in legal research and drafting, e-discovery, client interviewing and trial preparation, and case management. My transition from commercial litigation work to my goal of becoming an immigration law attorney will also be supported by my advanced fluency in written and spoken Spanish; during my time as Judge Mason’s law clerk, my duties have included serving as a court translator when needed.
Thank you for your consideration of this application; I would be grateful for the chance to meet with you to discuss my qualifications for this position in greater detail.