Law Job Seeking Tips
Companies want a candidate who is more than the right fit. They want a candidate ho fits like a glove. Your cover letter is key to showing your strengths and value for jobs in Law. Enhance your cover letter with the following tips.
1. Tell your story through numbers. Percentages, dollar amounts and other figures add concrete details to your accomplishments. For example, state the sales amount you brought in or describe the percentage growth of subscribers to your e-mail marketing campaign.
2. Clean up your cover letter. Proofread your cover letter for typos and grammar. A small typo can detract the reader, who is likely the hiring manager, from seeing your strengths and skillset.
3. Include experience or skills that are applicable to jobs in Law. Transferrable skills relevant to any job include customer service, project management and analytical problem solving.
4. Put a skill summary or profile section on top of the cover letter, and make sure to include keywords from the job description in either of these sections. These sections make your cover letter more readable at a glance.
5. Select verbs that pique interest. Strong verbs like launched or commanded are more descriptive than the words worked or led.
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.