Law Student Cover Letter Samples
If you’re studying law and looking to review some law student cover letter samples, then this blog is for you! Whether you’re applying to an internship, or hoping to obtain employment in your field, you’ll need a specific cover letter detailing your qualities and skills as a law student. A law student cover letter differs from a law school letter of recommendation , as you’ll write it yourself and you’ll only need it once you’re already admitted into your program. A well written cover letter can help you acquire great learning opportunities!
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Article Contents 11 min read
Law student cover letters are extremely important for students of law to know how to write and have on-hand, regardless of what year of study you’re currently in. A cover letter serves as your chance to show off your skills and to make sure that the motivation behind your career choice and your suitability for the role; this is especially important for things like summer job opportunities related to your program and internships. This blog will walk you through everything you need to know about writing a law student cover letter—from what information it should contain, how it should be formatted, and a few samples of law student cover letters so you’ll know how to prepare your letter with ease!
What is a Law Student Cover Letter?
You are now a law student! After completing dozens of application components, such as your law school personal statement, law school resume , and other law school optional essays , you have finally made it! But, if you think that you are done planning and working on application materials, you are wrong! Now that you’re a law student, you must work to gain relevant experience and knowledge by participating in internships, articling, and other law-related job opportunities. To succeed in your applications, you will need a stellar law student cover letter.
A law student cover letter is a document that you write to accompany your resume, which you send along with your application for various internships or employment opportunities that are related to your area of study. In your case, this is law, but it may be a specific sector of law that you have a special interest in, such as family law or environmental law. A cover letter is used to connect the dots between your experiences listed on your resume by providing your potential employer with a short, organized narrative that details why you’re an ideal candidate for the role.
As a law student, it's important for you to create effective marketing materials that stand out from the crowd of applicants. A well-written cover letter will help employers remember who sent them the application—and put it at the top of their pile when they're shortlisting candidates for an interview!
Simply put: you’ll want to stand out to potential employers, and having a well written cover letter can enhance your application!
Need help with your cover letter? Reach out to a law school advisor:
Without a cover letter, your application may only consist of a resume, and/or any other documentation that is required. Most, if not all, jobs recommend a cover letter. The same can be said for internships. Whether paid or unpaid, internship positions are often in high demand, and many law students will likely apply for the same position. Many students may have similar academic paths and accomplishments, so, having a stellar cover letter gives you an opportunity to stand out (in just a few short paragraphs) and works to enhance the valuable information and experiences on your resume.
You should prepare a law-specific cover letter when you want to apply for any professional role related to law. Commonly, law student cover letters are required/recommended to go along with internship applications.
Even if you’re not currently seeking an internship or employment, you may also want to have an established cover letter if you’re interested in alumni networking as a law student, or learning about opportunities without the immediate intent of applying to them.
Your cover letter is a professional extension of you, and should almost act as a narrative that encompasses your abilities as a law student as they relate to the role you’re hoping to obtain.
Every law student cover letter you create and submit should be completely unique. This doesn’t mean that your latest cover letter cannot follow the same format as another you’ve written, or include the same background information about your skills. Rather, you should ensure each cover letter is tailored to the specific company and position you’re applying for. Each role has different requirements and expectations, so it’s important you take the time to share why you feel you’d be a good fit for a specific role, and not submit the same, generalized cover letters to every role you apply for while you’re in law school.
If you're a law student, cover letters are an important part of your job search while you’re still in school, and can really come in handy if you’re planning on pursuing an internship, whether one is a mandatory component of your program or not.
Even if internships are required by your institution, it does not mean you’ll be automatically awarded an internship. You may need to apply yourself in order to stand out and be considered above other candidates for your desired position at the company you wish to intern with; especially if it’s competitive.
Cover letters give you the chance to explain why you would be a good fit for a position and show that you're serious about getting the job. Resumes are brief and often point-form, highlighting a few academic accomplishments and credentials, along with employment history and workplace skills. But sometimes, a job title and a brief description of your duties isn’t sufficient enough to look like the best candidate in the application pool!
The first thing most hiring managers look at when they get an application is the cover letter; this is true across many fields, but especially in law. It gives them a sense of who you are as a professional, and shows them whether or not you may be an ideal fit for their company. Each company has its own culture and set of values; they’re looking for specific talent and skills to add to their team, and the only way they’ll know if you have these is by reading your detailed cover letter.
If yours doesn't stand out from the rest, you may not hear from your dream company!
What Information Should I Include in my Law Student Cover Letter?
Your law student cover letter should include the following:
- Your name, address and phone number.
- The date of your application. If you are applying for multiple positions at once, it’s helpful to make sure that your cover letter goes with each job posting.
- A short summary of your career history so far (including any relevant work experience). This could be a paragraph or two long, but shouldn't take up more than half the page.
- Brief descriptions of the internship or role you are applying for and what makes you qualified for it. You should emphasize the knowledge and skills you possess, and experiences you’ve had, in order to demonstrate why you think you’re a perfect candidate.
- A concise summary about why you want to work in law, and why you want to work for this employer in particular. You can include the steps you’ve taken towards achieving this goal so far—this would include some information about your years spent at university as well as activities outside of class, such as extracurriculars related specifically to legal studies or volunteer opportunities.
What Information Should I Refrain from Putting in my Cover Letter?
Yes, there is definitely information that should not be included in any cover letter, but especially a law student cover letter.
First, you should refrain from including overly personal information. This means you should not provide details about your personal life, irrelevant points about hobbies or interests unrelated to law, and any information about your age, race, gender, political opinion, or preferences, unless this was a requirement for the role! For example, some internship and job postings may be looking for students under 30 years of age, somebody who is bilingual, somebody who identities as female, or even a person with a specific area of interest that is relevant to the position.
When formatting your law student cover letter, consider the following:
Remember, no matter what position you\u2019re applying for, or what your experience is, your cover letter is to serve as an informative, concise piece\u2014a narrative\u2014explaining your professional qualifications! Your resume is the place to list your accomplishments and extensive history (usually in point-form of brief sentences), however, your cover letter should highlight skills and points that are specific to the role you\u2019re hoping to obtain. "}]'>
November 1, 2020
Mr. John Smith
XYZ District Attorney’s Office
123 Anywhere Street
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am a second-year student at ZYX Law School and I’m elated to be writing to you in response to your posting for a spring intern at your downtown office. I have been a passionate advocate for many social justice movements in the downtown core, and feel working at the XYZ District Attorney’s Office would be an invaluable experience. I am also confident that I have several established skills that would make me a great addition to your office over the course of the fourth month position.
I attended ABC University for my undergraduate degree and received my honors degree in Justice, Political Policy and Law in 2017, with a minor focus in Labor Studies. Prior to beginning my current program, I accepted a part-time position as a youth program coordinator at Newtown’s Indigenous community center. I thoroughly enjoy drafting and organizing programs that will benefit the young minds in this city, and throughout my academic and professional endeavors, I’ve grown to be the passionate, dedicated law student I am today.
I am passionate about social justice and empowerment which is why a role interning at your office not only piqued my interest as somebody eager to learn more about district law, but somebody who is so excited about working in this city. I also firmly believe I am capable of demonstrating the intensive research skills and organizational abilities required for this role, as I exceeded in political research and research analytics during my undergraduate degree, specifically with my fourth-year thesis, where I presented my case on the relation of Generational Trauma, Systemic Racism and Social Welfare Crises. Last summer, I completed an internship at CDF Law Firm as a research assistant and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I successfully compiled and drafted several documents during my two months at CDF, and, I learned how to best organize my findings in an approachable and concise manner.
Overall, I feel an internship at XYZ District Attorney’s Office would be phenomenal opportunity. I feel in this position, I’d be able to successfully enhance my skills as a law professional, and learn new research and leadership skills that will be imperative to my growth and will contribute to my journey toward one day becoming a District Attorney myself. I have a lot to learn, but I know I have a lot of value and skill to offer.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to review my cover letter. I look forward to connecting with you. I can be reached at (102)-304-1234, or by email, [email protected] .
Sample Law Student Cover Letter 2
ABC County Municipal Government Center
1999 Anytown Ave - 18
March 10, 2018
To Whom it may Concern,
I am a third year ABC Law student determined to pursue a career as a public defender, which is why I am excited to be formally applying for your internship at ABC Country Municipal Government Centre. I have an extensive background studying criminal law and public defence, both in my post secondary courses and internships, and volunteer endeavors. I feel my combination of experience and dedication to becoming a law professional allow me to demonstrate the skills necessary for this role, including knowledge of the criminal justice system, municipal law, and defence, as well as impeccable analytical and critical thinking abilities.
Last summer, I worked for the Public Defender Service for the District of CBA as a part-time intern. There, I helped my designated attorney prepare for trial and conducted extensive research on cases specific to juveniles, as well as other crimes that impacted the community, like vandalism. I helped prepare court documents and by the end of my contract, I was preparing documents entirely on my own; they were then granted approval upon review and used in court. I also witnessed and participated in defence interviews as an observer and got a first-hand look at what it takes to not only question to convicted, but to see the big picture and understand, from a professional standpoint, what their true intent is/was. I always strive to hear everybody and ask the appropriate questions to ensure I have a thorough understanding of every case.
I have completed eight criminal law courses, with honors, in my current program, and exceeded in criminal law during my undergraduate career, too. Currently, I volunteer as a journalist for the law “paper”, that is a student-run and funded blog, at ABC University. I enjoy volunteering my time to not only to inform the law community of pertinent issues and stories in our community, but to ensure I have polished and pristine research and writing skills. I believe the only way to learn and improve, is by doing.
My training during workshops and mock trials has helped me to develop the strong oral advocacy skills critical in the courtroom, which I am looking to put to use, alongside my research, writing, and analytical skills, at an internship at your office. My academic career and professional goals, make me a strong candidate for this position. I would appreciate the chance to discuss my qualifications with you.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
As a law student, you’ll benefit tremendously from knowing how to draft a quality, concise law student cover letter for all of your future internships and employment opportunities. It’s essential that you mention relevant details and highlight your assets in your law student cover letter, as it’s your only opportunity to offer a narrative to support your resume/application, and speak to your own character and potential!
Be sure to review our samples above, and review the recommended structure so that you can format your law student cover letter well and attach it to all of your applications! Remember, for each job you apply for, you should create a custom cover letter.
A cover letter is a one-page document that you include with your resume when applying for jobs, internships and other positions. The cover letter’s purpose is to introduce yourself and explain why you are the best candidate for the job. It should also highlight why you would be an asset to the company or law firm in question.
A law student cover letter is different from a cover letter you’d send along to support your application for a job outside of law. As a law student, you’ll require a cover letter when you apply for internship opportunities, or for positions related to the field of law.
Yes, and no. While having a template and outline for your law student cover letter is generally a good idea, you should customize all of your cover letters so that they are tailored to each individual role you are applying for. Be sure to state the company’s name, and personalize what you say so it stands out to specific employers!
Mentioning specific skills you have that align with their ideal candidate (refer to job description),and supplying a brief, supportive narrative can strongly support your resume. Remember, your resume acts as an organized list to detail your experience, whereas a cover letter gives you the chance to speak to your character, experiences, and skills, and convince the employer that you’re right for the role!
Refrain from providing extensive information about past experiences (educational, employment or personal) that are not relevant to the position of which you’re applying! You only have one page, so be sure to only add details that matter and relate to law!
No, when you have not yet entered your law program, you are not yet a law student! You can use cover letters for any job you apply for, however, they should be tailored specifically to your program.
It’s important to remember that a law student cover letter is vastly different than a law school letter of recommendation. Your letter of recommendation supports your application to law school, and is written by a recommender. Your law student cover letter will be written by you, once you’re already admitted into your law program.
You need one cover letter for each job/internship you apply for, unless you are given instructions that state otherwise. Your cover letter should be no more than one page, and should be broken up into 3-5 short paragraphs to make it readable and professional.
BeMo Academic Consulting can help you! We offer academic support for students studying in a variety of fields, including law, and we’d be happy to help you write your law student cover letter.
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Writing a law CV and cover letter
First impressions are lasting and this is especially true when it comes to CVs and cover letters for law jobs . After all, the content of your application is only half the game – as a law graduate, it will also be expected that you can write clearly and persuasively. Moreover, recruiters are often time-poor professionals who want to separate the wheat from the chaff quickly, before reaching out to candidates who distinguish themselves with their academic credentials, work experience or diverse interests. So, to help you put your best foot forward, we’ve assembled some tips on how to create a killer cover letter and resume
Creating a Standout Cover Letter
The basics .
A cover letter is like a sales pitch, and what you’re trying to sell is your own suitability for a target job. Successful cover letters:
- Highlight the important parts of your resume
- Provide a sample of your written communication skills
- Show how your skills, education and experience are relevant to the position for which you’re applying
- Address any specific selection criteria in the job advertisement
- Draw attention to your achievements
- Use appropriate formatting and a professional and confident tone of voice
- Encourage prospective employers to read further into your resume or CV
- Demonstrate one’s command of the rules of grammar and style.
Why invest time in writing a good cover letter?
Cover letters can be time-consuming, and that’s largely due to the importance of writing a new one for each application. Nothing turns off a prospective employer quite like the sense that they’re reading a template letter. It’s vitally important that your submission – or, at the very least, the bulk of it – is specific to the employer in question. It’s a chance to convince them that you want to work in their industry, for their specific organisation and in the job role they advertised. For example, why do you want to use your law degree in a community legal centre? What, to you, is the appeal of pursuing a public career instead of a private, commercial one?
A cover letter should include the following:
- Your personal/contact details
- A salutation/greeting
- How you heard about the job/employer
- What attracts you to the job or employer (you can mention some of their recent projects or significant staff members)
- Why you believe you would be an asset to the team
- How you will follow up
- A closing/signature.
The trick is to have a clear idea as to what the company does and what the job entails, then draw out evidence of your own relevant skills, interests and experience. Here, the more specific you can be, the better. For example, instead of simply writing that you’ve ‘interned at a leading law firm’, you could say, ‘As an intern, I helped to draft supporting documents for a case that was ultimately settled in favour of the firm’s client.’
Structure and tone
Your cover letter should have a clear structure with an introduction that leads into a summary of your relevant skills and experiences. This should be followed by a closing statement that reiterates your interest in the job, thanks the employer for their time and includes a ‘soft pitch’. For example, you might write something like:
‘I look forward to speaking with you further about how I can make a positive contribution to your team’.
Throughout the letter, your tone should be polite and professional. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should tie yourself in knots trying to sound overly formal. Simply avoid colloquial language wherever possible, and focus on providing evidence of why you should be hired (as opposed to simply claiming to be ‘excellent’ or ‘talented’).
Finally, keep your cover letter succinct. It should be no longer than one A4 page and should have your details clearly written as part of a letterhead.
Get to the top of the pile: writing a successful CV
A curriculum vitae (CV) is a written overview of your experience and other qualifications for a job opportunity. Creating a good CV generally takes more time than writing a cover letter. However, once complete, a CV can be submitted to each new employer with only minor adjustments.
A CV should concisely outline your relevant educational history, work experience, professional accomplishments and qualifications. It may also include details of referees (if requested). A successful CV:
- Can be read easily and uses a clear font in a reasonable size with logical headings and well structured bullet points
- Uses a skills-focused or chronological format
- Emphasises skills or job experiences that are particularly relevant to the job description.
Why invest time in writing a good CV?
The role of a CV is to provide recruiters and prospective employers with an easily scannable summary of your achievements so they can decide whether or not to progress your application by offering you an interview.
As a law graduate, you’ll often find that your educational pedigree is similar to other applicants, many of whom will have completed near-identical degrees at equivalent institutions. Consequently, it’s worth taking the time to figure out what differentiates you from the crowd before emphasising this in your CV.
For example, you might bill yourself as a lawyer with strong communication skills and highlight that you volunteered for a community law centre. Or perhaps you speak another language, love coding or have a specific five-year goal that the role you’re applying for will help you achieve. Giving your CV a novel ‘twist’ is a surefire way to make sure it doesn’t get lost in all the noise.
A law CV should include the following:
- Your contact details, including your phone number, address and email
- Your residency status
- A career overview, with an emphasis on industry positions or transferable skills gained through other jobs you’ve held
- A summary of your education and training
- A list of any professional accreditations or other qualifications you have (for example, a certificate of proficiency in a different language)
- Details of your referees (or an explicit offer to provide them).
Your educational history from your university years should include your predicted or actual degree grades, information on group projects and your dissertation, any units relevant to the job, and relevant academic awards. Employers don’t need to know the specifics of units that don’t relate to them.
You should prioritise any legal work experience you have, and highlight specific accomplishments that are relevant to the position for which you’re applying. Of course as a graduate, your experience in law may be limited, if you have any at all.
Fortunately, many employers look very favourably on achievements and experiences outside of the law. Examples worth mentioning include fundraising, voluntary work, independent overseas travel, sporting achievements or leading roles in university clubs or societies. You needn’t go into too much detail – a summary of your achievements and any relevant transferable skills (leadership, teamwork or problem-solving skills) will suffice.
The most common CV format is the reverse-chronological approach, which presents your most recent work experience and educational accomplishments first, before moving backwards. If you follow this approach, make sure the chronology is clear and there are no large gaps that could confuse or worry employers. For example, if you took a year off to go travelling between jobs, you might even include that as a CV entry.
As with your cover letter, your tone should be polite and professional, and your entries as specific and detailed as possible. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Describe achievements – don’t just list job titles. Instead of saying you were an intern at Arup, mention specifically what you accomplished, learned or contributed.
- Emphasise more recent jobs and achievements.
- Be honest. You should expect your CV will be read critically and important points will be cross-checked with referees or industry databases.
- Keep paragraphs to three or four lines and space them well. This helps the reader pick out the main facts and assimilate a number of points quickly.
- Use bullet points wherever they add clarity and visual style. When writing bullet points, use direct action words such as ‘designed’, ‘built’ and ‘organised’. This has the effect of assigning credit to you for your achievements and enhances the CV’s overall credibility.
- Prioritise relevance but also leave room for things that make you seem interesting or well rounded. For example, there’s no reason not to include a cooking qualification as a point of interest, and you needn’t claim it will be integral to your success in law.
Sample cover letters
Sample cover letter #1, applying for an internship.
[INSERT YOUR NAME]
[INSERT YOUR ADDRESS]
[INSERT YOUR NUMBER]
[INSERT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS]
[INSERT NAME OF RECIPIENT]
[INSERT RECIPIENT’S POSITION]
[INSERT RECIPIENT’S ADDRESS]
I am a [first/second/third]-year student at [insert academic institution] and I’m writing to apply for [name of position advertised] position with [name of organisation]. I have a strong [insert average mark], which I achieved while [include example of extracurricular activity or personal challenge]. Completing a placement at [insert organisation] would allow me to continue my commitment to [insert an issue relevant to the organisation and for which you are genuinely passionate]. I feel confident that I will make a positive contribution to your office while strengthening the skills I’ll need for a career in [insert relevant area of law].
[NB: We will assume from this point that the author is applying for a clerkship at a commercial law firm.]
As a student at [insert academic institution], I wrote an honours thesis on the need to reform our approach to financial market manipulation, focusing on the legal implications of the way ‘manipulation’ is defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). My master’s thesis focused on regulatory responses to the financial crisis in Singapore and Indonesia, allowing me to better understand how other countries handle these complex issues.
I was drawn to [organisation’s name] because it is my career goal to work in financial regulation. As a market leader in banking and finance, [organisations name] has [insert example of its involvement in this area, such as a major case or client]. These matters resonated with me because [insert why these matters resonated with you].
This semester, I participated in the semi-final of the Ashurst Commercial Law Moot, which allowed me to demonstrate my oral argument skills and exposed me to the work lawyers can do to promote responsible market regulation. Additionally, joining the Business Law Review has kept me updated on the legal issues facing commercial law practitioners. I’m particularly passionate about the effects of commercial law reform on smaller businesses. Working in the outreach division of [insert firm] would allow me to gain experience advocating for the specific client populations I hope to assist in my career.
Because of my familiarity with the issues facing smaller businesses and Australia’s market regulation policies, as well as my background in commerce, I would be very happy to work on cases dealing with transactions in remote communities or regional areas. I’d also be delighted at the opportunity to work in any of the other areas on which your office focuses, including mergers and acquisitions for larger organisations.
I have enclosed a resume highlighting my education and work experience. I hope to have the opportunity to interview with you about a summer position, and I will call your office in a few weeks to see if I may schedule a time to speak with you. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Sample cover letter #2
Applying for a graduate position.
RE: Application for [Position] at [Organisation]
Dear [Mr/Ms last name of contact person],
I am writing to apply for the graduate program at [organisation name]. I am currently in my penultimate year of an [insert degree and university], having previously completed my undergraduate major in [insert subject]. I have a strong distinction average, which I have achieved while maintaining multiple extracurricular commitments, including being elected by my peers in 2019 to the role of [position] in the [student society/leadership organisation], and working part time.
I am applying to [organisation name] because of its position as the leading law firm in the Asia Pacific Region, and the first and only global legal practice headquartered in Asia. This is reflected in [organisation name]’s success in consistently winning the [award], as well as its prominent role in [litigation/deal/matter].
My interest in commercial litigation was born of my experience participating in both the 2018 and 2019 [moot competition]. Later in 2019 , I conducted research as a summer legal intern in the litigation department at Mallesons, where I also assisted the lead counsel in a pro bono community outreach case. During this time I learnt [provide examples].
In addition to my summer positions, I have taken every opportunity possible to prepare myself for a career in commercial litigation. Through my work on the Commercial Law Journal, I have refined my research and writing skills. My training during an on-campus litigation workshop has helped me to develop the strong legal reasoning skills so critical to litigation, and I am now putting them to use by volunteering at a community legal centre.
I am the ideal candidate for [organisation name] because my achievements and experience exemplify the characteristics it seeks in its lawyers. My role as a [position] at [organisation name] provided me with legal experience in working in-house for a commercial client, allowing me to strengthen my stakeholder management. Furthermore, my attainment of a High Distinction in Advanced Commercial Law reflects my commitment to excellence in this area of practice.
I believe that my legal research and writing skills, my litigation experience and my dedication to [organisation name]’s mission will enable me to make a positive contribution at your firm. Please find enclosed my resumé and a copy of my academic transcript. I will send an email in a few weeks to follow up on my application.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
For our comprehensive and updated guide on how the craft the perfect graduate CV, check out our latest article here .
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How to write winning covering letters for law firms
targetjobs editorial team
Last updated: 24 Mar 2023, 17:42
When applying for a training contract or vacation scheme, your covering letter may be the first part of your application a law firm considers.
Your covering letter creates a powerful first impression, so make it easy for the recruiter to see that you have strong potential as a lawyer.
Many law graduate jobs at solicitors’ firms in the UK will ask you to apply for a training contract with a covering letter. Read this advice from recruiters at Slaughter and May, Cleary Gottlieb and Ince & Co, then follow our law cover letter template.
Some recruiters will want you to upload your covering letter as part of an online application form (such as Baker McKenzie and Jones Day), while others – usually smaller, high street law firms – will want you to send the letter alongside a CV (see our law CV example here ).
- Cover letter template: see our annotated law covering letter sample for more tips and format examples .
How to write a law cover letter tip #1: use the letter to explain why you want to be a solicitor at that particular law firm
A covering letter is a golden opportunity to explain your motivations for becoming a lawyer and for applying to that specific firm. ‘My advice is to use the cover letter to introduce yourself and to explain why you are applying to that firm,' says Janine Arnold, trainee recruitment manager at Slaughter and May . ‘Be sure to include any additional information that you feel is relevant to your application.’
If you’re uploading a covering letter as part of a larger application form you should avoid repeating examples you’ve used to answer questions on the form. Give as broad a picture of your skills and experience as possible and only repeat something if you think it is particularly significant to that law firm. Your covering letter is an introduction to get the recruiter’s attention – a sample of your potential, if you like – not your overall application.
‘A well-written, succinct, persuasive covering letter crafted by an aspiring trainee solicitor who has really thought about the firm stands out,’ says Nichola Rowe, director of legal human resources at Cleary Gottlieb . ‘Ask yourself: what sets this firm apart from other law firms and how do my individual skills and experiences marry with that firm?’.
How to write a law cover letter tip #2: how long should it be?
A covering letter should be a maximum of one page, with a font size of 11 or 12. Slaughter and May ’s Janine Arnold agrees: ‘A lengthy covering letter is not necessary; aim for it to be no longer than one side of A4.' Remember that some firms will give a word count for the covering letter they want you to write as part of your application. It's important to stick to that word count. It shows that you can write succinctly and follow instructions.
Get the insights and skills you need to shape your career journey with Pathways. We’ll show you exactly what goes into a convincing cover letter, so you can give yourself the best chance of getting to the next stage of the application process.
How to write a law cover letter tip #3: the format law firms like
The best law cover letter examples have a clear structure, such as:
1. The introduction to your cover letter
Introduce yourself, explain what stage you are at in your degree course (including the university you’re attending), state that you are applying for a training contract and where you read about the law firm. This should only be a sentence or two.
2. A paragraph on why you want to work at that law firm
The second paragraph should cover why you want to be a solicitor and why you want to work for that law firm in particular. Highlight any experiences you’ve had that have convinced you that you want to be a solicitor, such as vacation schemes, open days or insight days. You can even mention mini-pupillages – it will impress graduate recruiters if you’ve put the effort into comparing the two sides of the legal profession, as long as you have good reasons for picking a career as a solicitor (this could come up at interview).
Make it clear why you want to work in the particular area of law that the firm focuses on. For example, if it’s a commercial firm you’ll want to draw on any work experience you’ve had at other commercial firms. Show off your research about the firm by explaining your interest in their main legal practice areas – don’t just say ‘I am interested in shipping law’, for example, but provide evidence of that interest.
You might also want to mention the firm’s training structure. Some firms will have compulsory seats, in which case you’ll need to show an interest in those areas. If you’ve chosen a firm that doesn’t have compulsory seats, or has no seat structure at all (such as Jones Day for example), then you could explain why this appeals to you above a more defined training contract structure.
3. A paragraph highlighting why you're a good fit for the law firm
Next, you need to pitch yourself to the recruiter. Make it clear that you are suited to a career as a solicitor: highlight achievements that show you have the competencies the firm has asked for. If the firm hasn’t specified exactly what it's looking for, see our article here on the skills most legal recruiters want from applicants. Don’t just say ‘I have good communication skills’ – you need to mention an achievement that hinged on your use of those skills.
4. The ending to your law covering letter
Close by referring the recruiter to your CV or application and stating your availability for interview(s) or assessment centre(s).
How to write a law cover letter tip #4: explain any extenuating circumstances
'Covering letters should also explain any mitigating circumstances relating to exam results and to address any questions that you may reasonably expect to arise from your application, such as any gaps in your CV,’ explains Janine.
How to write a law cover letter tip #5: proofread your cover letter before you hit ‘send’
Once you’ve put your covering letter together, don’t be tempted to rush it off. Ask friends, family and your university careers adviser to check it. ‘There is no good excuse for spelling errors, especially when you’re applying for a job that requires scrupulous attention to detail,’ points out a legal recruitment adviser at Ince & Co . ‘The number of applications we receive that contain errors is surprising. Your application is all we’ve got to go on, so you owe it to yourself to ensure it’s not let down by something so easily avoidable.’
Remember that law firms will be judging your ability to communicate professionally with clients on the professionalism of your covering letter – you’re making a pitch, just like you would do as a practising lawyer.
Legal recruiters at major law firms read through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications from aspiring trainee solicitors each year and will only spend a minute or so reading your covering letter. Some recruiters say that they make their decision paragraph by paragraph – if you haven't impressed upon them that you would be a good fit for their firm halfway through the cover letter, they might not even read the rest. Your covering letter creates a powerful first impression, so make it easy for the recruiter to see that you have strong potential as a solicitor by following the tips above.
In other news: Massive changes to the way solicitors qualify are on the horizon. Do you know how they will affect you? Find out here .
targetjobs editorial advice
This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.
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Cover letters for law graduates
September 15, 2020 8:51 am Published by Salt Fuessel
Your cover letter is one of the first opportunities to leave a positive impression on a potential employer.Therefore it’s important that you present yourself and your skills in the best possible way. This blog will give you tips on how a great cover letter can help you gain employment at a law firm.
The importance of a well-crafted and brief cover letter cannot be overstated, no matter which field you work in and the kind of job you’re applying for. While a CV can list your university degrees, awards, work experience and skills, a cover letter needs to give a future employer enough information that highlights your abilities but without swamping them with words – leave it to the CV to go into detail.
If your cover letter is too short, they won’t know enough about how you fit the advertised role; if it’s too long, you risk losing their interest before they open your CV. The first two paragraphs should grab the recruiter’s attention, and the entire cover letter should be no longer than around one A4 page.
The structure of the cover letter will be slightly different if you are attaching it as a separate document versus writing it in the body of an email. If it’s a document, your contact details are included in the upper-right corner, followed by the date about a salutation/greeting on the left. For both types, it is best to address the recruiter directly by name.
Next, set out what attracts you most about working for this employer, such as recent projects they have completed. You can then start listing a few brief reasons as to why you would be the best fit for this role and an asset for the company. Remember: do not include too much information that can be gleaned from your CV, but instead illustrate in a few sentences why your mix of education, experience and skills make you the best candidate.
Sometimes it can be beneficial to use headings in your cover letter, as this helps the recruiter easily navigate your letter, while also showing that you have tailored it to the specific role.
Your cover letter should be professional and polite, avoiding informal or colloquial language, as well as humour (don’t try to win over your recruiter with jokes). It is also important that you keep the language simple and clear; plain English language is best. You want to show a potential employer that you have an excellent grasp of pragmatics and that you can tailor your communication to a specific audience. Your cover letter is the ideal place for this. However, you also don’t want to come across as too formal, but simply show the recruiter that you have expert language skills, particularly in regards to persuasion.
The first rule of cover letters is to address all the key selection criteria stipulated in the job advertisement or position description. If you have experience in several different areas of law, you should also ensure you list the skills and experience which are most relevant to the specific role. You should state clearly why you want the position, and it’s a good idea to avoid statements which might indicate that you only see this role as a stepping stone to something else. If you are a graduate or have limited experience in the law field, you can focus more on your education, awards, accreditations. and any previous law-related work, and indicate that you are eager to expand your skills and experience. It’s important to remember that non-legal work experience is also valuable. So don’t be shy about including transferable skills developed through retail or office jobs, as many of these will still be relevant in the legal profession.
Winning your first law job may seem like a daunting process but it is something that each prospective lawyer must go through, so if you can make your cover letter look as good as possible, you’ll have a much greater chance of success. You can also check out our other blog on how to format your resume as a law graduate .
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E. common cover letter mistakes.
- Vide o and Slides from the CDO program “ Cover Letters That Do The Job” and handouts: Job Postings & Tips and Sample PIPS Cover Letters .
Your cover letter is as important as your resume because it is often read first and plays a vital role in your quest for an interview. A cover letter is not a transmittal letter, and you may be surprised at how time-consuming it is to craft a good one. A cover letter has a purpose, which is to let an employer know why they should bother reading your resume and why they should meet you. It also serves as an example of your written work product; thus it should be clear, brief, and written in a business letter style, without any typographical errors.
1. Cover letters for unsolicited applications come in three main types:
- Personal Letter. These are the most effective cover letters and are sent to people you have met or with whom you have a mutual acquaintance. These letters should all start with the sentence: “_______ recommended that I contact you.” As this type of letter is most likely to get a response, if you have any possibility of establishing this sort of connection to a prospective employer in advance of sending your letter, you should try your best to do so.
- Targeted Letters. Next best thing. Targeted letters are based on research of the employer, and are individually tailored. Your letter should incorporate the information learned through your research to show the employer that you have skills they will be able to put to use.
- Mass Mailers. Least desirable. These are generic except for the name and address of the employer, and have a very low success rate of getting interviews.
2. When you respond to a job listing, you will usually be requested to submit a cover letter as part of your application. In this case, use the job description and requested qualifications as a guide. While not simply imitating the language of the listing, your letter should demonstrate that you have what the employer is looking for.
3. A few employers at OCI request that students bring a cover letter to the initial interview. This is essentially to require students to think about why they want to work for this employer, but it makes for a letter which deviates from the usual “please consider me for an interview” approach. See below for suggestions on OCI cover letters.
Cover letters should follow standard business letter format, as to spacing, salutation, etc. If you are not sure of the fine points, consult a business correspondence reference source. Avoid abbreviations, contractions and shortcuts (such as a slash instead of “or”), although if there is an accepted short form of the name of the organization you are writing to (e.g., ACLU or Coblentz) it is acceptable to use it in the text of your letter. Your telephone number and email address should appear somewhere in the letter, either at the top with your address, or in the closing paragraph, when you ask them to contact you. Note that your resume is “enclosed,” not “attached” (which means clipped or stapled).
If you are not sure to whom you should send your letter, it is always acceptable to write to the executive director of a nonprofit, or the hiring partner or head of recruiting at a firm; they can forward your application to the appropriate person within the organization. If at all possible, write to an individual by name, not to “Director” or “Recruiting Coordinator.” Firm and organization web sites are very useful in finding this information (and for confirming correct spellings and the like); it may be more difficult to find the name of an individual addressee for government job opportunities. If you do not have the name of an individual, the salutation should be “Dear Sir or Madam” (not “To Whom It May Concern”). Of course if you are responding to a job posting, address your letter exactly as instructed.
As for the appropriate salutation, traditionally, it is “Dear [Mr./Ms.] [Last Name]. However, we understand that this prevailing business norm may not be inclusive of individuals who do not use either of those titles (for example, because they identify as gender nonconforming). One alternative, “Dear [First Name] [Last Name]”, avoids presuming how the recipient may identify, but it is not without some risk.
If you use this approach, a recipient less attuned to thinking about gender inclusivity (and accustomed to seeing only “Dear [Mr./Ms] [Last Name]”) may wrongly conclude that you were unfamiliar with professional etiquette or that you used a mail merge template and did not bother to customize it. While awareness around these issues is increasing, we believe that, unfortunately, it is still not a small number of recruiting representatives and attorneys who might draw the wrong conclusion.
One way to navigate this tricky situation might be to see if the recipient has an online presence (e.g., on the firm website or LinkedIn) that might give you a strong clue as to how they would like to be addressed. Otherwise, you will need to make your own judgment as to whether recipients are more likely to recognize your inclusivity or to view the greeting as awkward or erroneous.
In our office, we are also working to help employers become familiar with gender-inclusive approaches like “Dear [First Name] [Last Name],” but like any process of education, this will take time. In the meantime, our primary goal is to make sure that all Berkeley Law students are fully informed as you navigate legal job markets. We are always available to discuss individually what approach would be the best fit for you.
First Paragraph. Begin your letter with a statement of who you are and why you are writing. Introduce yourself as a law student (including the year you are in) or a graduate of Berkeley Law and specify what it is you are seeking: a summer job, an associate position, a clerkship, part-time work during the school year, etc.
The goal of this paragraph is to give the reader a reason to want to finish reading the letter. If you don’t have a personal connection to cite, try to establish a nexus between yourself and the employer, such as knowledge of their practice, an established commitment to or interest in their work, a connection to their city, or something else which conveys that you are not just writing to them as part of a mass mailing for any job in any location. (If that in fact is what you are doing, try not to be too obvious about it. An employer wants to think that you sought him or her out purposely rather than randomly.)
Body Paragraph(s). This is the section in which you “sell” your experience and qualifications to the employer. Your goal here is to answer the question, “Why should the employer meet you?”
Call attention to something which substantiates your interest in this particular employer. It could be coursework in their specialty, the recommendation of a professor in their area of practice, undergraduate residency in their city, or any other indication of your interest. Try also to show how your experiences will translate into skills which will be useful to this particular employer. Highlight relevant qualifications which are not on your resume, such as coursework, research, or a prior connection to the organization or the issues they work on. If you have general legal skills such as negotiation, litigation, client counseling, interviewing, mock trials, etc., you may want to include them. As much as possible, try to convey understanding of, and enthusiasm for, the aims of the organization.
Employers do not expect first-year students to have highly-developed legal skills to offer. Therefore, for first-year students writing to private firms, this section can be a single, short paragraph, unless you have a strong background in a relevant area. However, even inexperienced first-year students writing to public interest/sector organizations should make an effort to describe skills and interests that are relevant to the employer.
It is appropriate and not uncommon for a public interest cover letter to be somewhat more detailed or personal than a private sector cover letter. Of course, it is still very important to be concise, but it is acceptable for the letter to be a full page if your experience dictates. In a public interest cover letter, it is important both to highlight your demonstrated commitment to the mission/work/client base of the organization through your own relevant work or life experience, and to illustrate your relevant skills. Take another look at your resume for items that show your interest, commitment and skills. Even if you do not have experience in the specific area in which an organization works, it is still important to emphasize your demonstrated commitment to the public interest, and to draw connections between that general commitment and the specific work of the organization. As it is important not to merely regurgitate your resume, consider including a story that illustrates you are interested or qualified in the position.
If your application raises questions that are readily answered, such as availability after the Bar exam, judicial clerkship plans, etc., the letter can address those; other issues may be better deferred to the interview stage. Consult a CDO attorney-counselor if you’re not sure whether to include something in your cover letter.
Final Paragraph. In your last paragraph, thank them for their consideration, and say you hope to hear from them soon. For out-of-town employers, indicate when you plan to be in their geographic area and state your availability for an interview. Be sure to include your phone number and email in this paragraph unless you use a letterhead style that includes them at the top of the page. If you state that you will call the employer to follow up on your application, be sure you do so.
If you are bringing a cover letter to an on-campus interview (which you should do only if the employer requests you to), the content will be a bit different. You don’t need to introduce yourself, as you will be there in person, and you won’t request an interview at the closing. But you can thank the employer for interviewing you and say that you welcome the opportunity to learn more about the employer and to discuss the possibility of working for them. The important thing is to show why you are interested in this particular employer, and how you think your background makes you a good match for them.
The mistakes most commonly found in student cover letters are:
- Restating your resume. “ I graduated from the University of Oregon in 2005, with a B.A., cum laude, in Political Science, then worked as a substitute teacher in an urban high school before starting law school in the fall of 2008 .” Don’t waste space with facts that are readily gleaned from your resume! Instead, you could say (briefly) how your work experience led you to pursue a legal career in an area practiced by the employer.
- Focusing on what you stand to gain from the job . “ I am particularly interested in your firm’s excellent training program for summer associates, and in gaining exposure to a variety of different practice areas.” Remember, employers only grant interviews to candidates who offer something of potential use to the employer. Try to say how your skills and enthusiasm will help the employer serve its clients, or otherwise further its aims.
- Being too informal or familiar. “I’m thrilled by the possibility of working with you this summer, and would love to meet with you in person/by phone to chat about what the options might be.” Enthusiasm is good, but it must be presented professionally.
Other cover letter mistakes include: being defensive or apologetic; appearing arrogant or entitled, and being too long and wordy. Unsupported statements of your qualities (“I am highly motivated and a quick study”) do not help your case. Generic reasons for your interest in the employer (e.g., its “excellent reputation”) tend to demonstrate your lack of specific knowledge. Of course typos and inaccuracies, such as misspelled names, or (please!) stating an interest in a practice area that the firm doesn’t have, are automatic application-killers.
Our cover letter template provides suggestions only; please do not feel excessively constrained by its approach. Your letter should, of course, be original work that reflects your unique background and the job you are aiming at.
Return to Contents
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.
- Avoid “To whom it may concern” or “Dear hiring committee.”
- Research websites or call employer to determine recipient’s name.
- For firms, address your letter to the recruiting director. For larger firms, contact information 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
-Last updated Aug 2022
Law graduate cover letter
This free sample cover letter for a law graduate has an accompanying law graduate sample resume and law graduate sample job ad to help you put together a winning job application.
James Smith 34 Miller Street Mountains VIC 3333 Tel: 03 8888 5555 Mobile: 0555 555 555 Email: [email protected]
[date] Ms Annabel Jones HR Manager Legal Matters Associates Level 100 Borrowing Place 1 Samly Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Dear Ms Jones
Re: Graduate Program, Legal Matters Associates
Please accept this letter, and the accompanying resume and academic transcript as application for the graduate program advertised on your website.
I graduated in 2007 with a Commerce/Law degree from the University of Mountainville and have legal experience gained working as a volunteer and as a summer clerk.
I recently completed a summer clerkship in the property and corporate division of The Lawyers Firm. In each division, I assisted senior associates and junior lawyers in the running of files for major private sector and government clients. This experience developed my research, drafting and analytical skills, as well as my knowledge of relevant property and contract law. It gave me the opportunity to work autonomously on smaller matters and as part of a team on more complex files. During the three months of my clerkship, I was able to foster successful working relationships with colleagues and the firm's clients.
My practical legal skills have also developed as a result of my work as a volunteer at the Matthew Legal Centre. Working one evening each week since March 2004, I interview clients, draft legal documents, manage multiple files and prepare briefs for counsel. In addition to increasing my understanding of the legal problems that affect ordinary people, in the areas of consumer credit, tenancy and criminal law, my experience at the centre developed my attention to detail and understanding of a client's problem before attempting to provide a legal opinion and strategy for resolution.
I have excellent oral and written communication skills. I was captain of the successful mooting team at university, have contributed articles to university newspapers and presented workshops to clients on understanding their legal rights at the Matthew Legal Centre. I was President of the university law society in 2006, Community Ambassador for the Kids off the Street Project in 2005 and I was awarded the University Medal for achieving the highest result for the subject Real Property Law for 2006.
I am interested in a legal career at Legal Matters Associates because of the firm's reputation for providing high quality legal advice, its diverse blue chip client base and its commitment to service. I would love to be part of an innovative and growing firm that values initiative and hard work.
My resume and an official transcript of my academic results are enclosed. I look forward to being able to discuss the graduate lawyer program further at an interview.
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