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How to Write a Legal Cover Letter for Law Firms (that Gets you Noticed)
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Whether you’re just starting your legal journey or are an experienced legal professional seeking a new role, there’s no way around it: demand for legal positions is high. As the 2022 Legal Trends Report explains, in the 12 months before April 2022, nearly one in five lawyers left the law firm they were working for, and nine percent planned to leave their firm in the next six months.
Despite a high demand for legal positions, however, people still need legal expertise—and law firms need capable legal professionals to fill open roles.
Whether you’re a law student, recent graduate, or experienced legal professional, this post will help you with your legal cover letter writing. We’ve started by providing sample cover letters for legal positions below and will then guide you through the essentials of writing a compelling cover letter for law firms.
Legal cover letter examples
If you’re feeling overwhelmed when drafting a cover letter for law firms, don’t worry. Seeing a legal cover letter example can give you the confidence to write your own. Below, we’ve compiled a few different sample cover letters for legal positions, covering different backgrounds and levels of experience.
- Cover letter examples for summer associates and interns, Columbia Law School.
- Cover letter examples for 1L – 3L students, Harvard Law School .
- Cover letter examples for 1L – 3L students, Yale Law School .
- Cover letter example for applying to an immigration law firm by a recent graduate with previous paralegal experience .
- Cover letter example for big law cover letter, Boston University.
- Cover letter example for an IP lawyer with 11 years experience .
- Cover letter example for a litigation attorney with 12 years experience .
Berkeley Law also provides an excellent guide for legal cover letters.
You can start by using one of these examples as inspiration for how to structure your cover letter and what you may want to highlight. You can also simply take insights from these sample cover letters for lawyers—insights you can apply to your own cover letter when following our tips below.
Cover letter etiquette
Even after reviewing some legal cover letter examples, the dos and don’ts of legal cover letter writing aren’t always easy to spot. You may ask yourself: what should a legal cover letter include for a law firm? While the content of your cover letter will differ between employers, these points of etiquette should not.
- Don’t skip it. The first, and potentially most important element of legal cover letter etiquette is writing one. While job sites and hiring portals may state ‘Cover Letter Optional’, disregard this, and ensure you always send a cover letter.
- Be concise. It’s likely that the hiring manager is receiving dozens, maybe even hundreds of cover letters a day. Respect an employer’s time by getting straight to the point. Long legal cover letters may also indicate an inability to achieve quick and succinct results.
- Match their tone. Write as if you’ve already been hired for the role. It’s subtle, but an employer will appreciate this personal touch.
- Prioritize the employer. Don’t include unnecessary details about your life that won’t have any impact on how you’ll perform the job.
- Don’t recycle legal cover letters. Be original. It’s time-consuming work, but it’ll show your potential employer that you’re dedicated.
- Triple-check it. Spelling and grammatical errors should be avoided at all costs. Given the highly competitive nature of the legal job market, you don’t want to be passed up over a simple error.
Addressing cover letters for lawyers
To whom it may concern: Always take the time to find the correct contact. When writing cover letters for law firms, it’s a common misstep to dedicate so much time and attention to the body of the letter that you overlook the basics—like who and how you’re addressing the letter.
Here are some best practices for addressing your legal cover letter:
- Know who you’re speaking to. Do your research and be specific. Address your cover letter to the person responsible for hiring at the firm you’re contacting, like the senior partner or hiring manager. If you don’t have this information, the law firm’s website might come in handy, or you can contact the law firm’s human resources department for guidance.
- Be careful with salutations. The salutation is a place to convey respect and showcase that you’ve taken the time to personalize the letter. Mistakes in the salutation are a sign that you’ll miss details, which won’t bode well for your chances at impressing your potential employer. If you’re certain of the recipient’s preferred gender-identifying language, you can write the salutation as “Dear Ms.” or Dear Mr.;” however, if you aren’t certain (and don’t make assumptions) or you don’t want to use gender-identifying language, drop the “Ms.” or “Mr.” and write out the person’s full first and last name.
- Double-check your spelling. People will always notice if you spell their name wrong, and there are multiple ways to spell even common names. Ensure you start on the right foot by getting the basics right.
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In your cover letter’s opening paragraph, you have two main goals:
- Introduce who you are.
- Explain why you’d be a good fit for this particular firm.
In the first paragraph, include details about:
- Who you are. Are you currently a law student? Are you an associate at a law firm?
- Who you know. Mention any referrals or mutual acquaintances right away.
- Why you’d be a great fit for the firm. Include specific reasons, as you’re looking for a way to create connections with the senior partner or hiring manager.
Main cover letter body
The body section of your cover letter is your chance to shine—and to succinctly summarize exactly how you meet the requirements set out in the job description.
In one or two paragraphs, give a high-level overview of your legal education and experience to show:
- Why you want to work for this firm. Elaborate on what makes you genuinely excited about the firm—whether it is an area of interest you’ve specialized in, the firm’s reputation or mission, or past experiences that will make you a uniquely good fit.
- Why this firm should hire you. Make clear connections between your qualifications and aspects of the role you’re applying for. If there is a job posting, look closely for key attributes that the firm is looking for, and then detail how you meet those expectations.
Highlighting your qualifications
Above all else, ensure your legal cover letter highlights your skills. Relevant qualifications for a law firm cover letter include:
- Past legal work experience or positions.
- Community service roles.
- Academic or research specializations.
- Relevant awards you’ve received.
- Your personal background.
For example, in the job posting (shown below) for an Associate Lawyer, the ideal candidate is described as having personal injury litigation experience, as well as someone who is “confident, highly motivated, possesses excellent communication skills, works well independently and as a part of a team. They must work well in a fast-paced office environment and take pride in exceeding expectations.”
If you were applying for this role, your cover letter’s body paragraphs might detail your past personal injury litigation experience and specific examples of how you’ve successfully communicated within a team and in a fast-paced environment.
Remember: Be specific, but keep in mind that this is not the place to restate your resume —if you can grab the hiring manager’s attention here, they will read your resume for those details. Your cover letter is where you can entice the reader to move on to your resume by providing context and highlighting how your experience lines up with what’s needed for the role.
Finally, your concluding paragraph is where you’ll succinctly wrap the cover letter up, close the loop, and leave a positive impression. In your closing paragraph, be sure to:
- Say thank you. Gratitude can make a difference, so always thank the reader for their consideration.
- Assert your next steps. It’s fine to clearly outline how and when you will follow up on your application, rather than waiting indefinitely for an answer. And, if you say that you’ll follow up at a specific time, be sure to do it—and hold yourself to your own word.
- Provide relevant contact details. Let the reader know how to reach you by phone or email, if these details are not already outlined in your letter’s header.
Tips for using your legal cover letter to stand out
The legal industry is rapidly evolving, and job hunters need to set themselves apart in order to get hired (unless, of course, you decide to start your own law firm ).
If you’re applying for a job as a lawyer, whether it’s a traditional position or a legal work-from-home job , here are five tips to make sure your cover letter lands at the top of the pile.
1. Make it personal
Perhaps the most important tip for writing cover letters for lawyers is to make it personal.
Many of your competitors have similar education and professional experience, so being generic is a fast track to being forgotten.
Use a personalized cover letter to showcase the unique reasons why you’re the best candidate. Show that you know the person that you’re writing to and highlight any connections. If that isn’t possible, you can always write about the firm to show that you’ve done your research.
2. Prioritize the positive
When you’re writing a lawyer cover letter, focus on what you have to offer. Regardless of the reasons why you’re looking for a new job, you bring a unique mix of attributes to the table. Highlight these attributes, whether they’re your:
- Other legal careers
- Relevant work experience
If you’re a law student or recent graduate, you may not have a long legal career to highlight. However, you can still note strengths like technology skills that make you an asset.
As the 2022 Legal Trends Report found, for example, technology has significantly changed the way lawyers work over the past two years. To a hiring law firm, being tech competent and familiar with certain cloud-based tools like Clio could be an advantage that sets you apart from other candidates.
3. Get to the point
Legal cover letters are not the place to be long-winded, and droning on will almost certainly have the opposite effect of what you’re going for. Keep cover letters for attorneys short, to the point, and persuasive—the trick is to be memorable and limit yourself to one page.
Because you want to make a lasting impression in a single page, it’s also a good idea to check your cover letter’s sentence structure. Do you start all of your sentences the same way? Are they all the same length? Ensure there’s some variety so your reader stays engaged.
4. Set the right tone
Tone matters. While what you say in a cover letter for lawyers is obviously important, it also matters how you say it.
No matter what type of legal job you’re applying for, you always want to convey a professional tone. However, depending on the law firm you’re applying to, using a personal tone may work to your advantage. Tailor your tone to match that of the law firm you’re applying to.
If you’re writing a big law cover letter, for example, you’ll want to err on the side of being more formal. For a smaller local law firm? Check their website and match the tone to demonstrate your familiarity with their firm.
There is zero room for typos or grammatical errors in cover letters for lawyers. With the high level of competition for legal jobs, don’t give hiring managers a reason to eliminate you. Take the time to carefully proofread your cover letter. It’s also a good idea to enlist someone else to proofread your cover letters.
In a crowded legal job market, there’s no better way to set yourself apart than an excellent legal cover letter. Ensure you’re putting your best foot forward with your future employer by:
- Making it personal. At every step, customize your cover letter to the firm you’re applying to—from the tone to the specific skills you detail.
- Keeping it brief. Cover letters for lawyers are a one-page summary to let the hiring manager know that you’re a candidate they should talk to further. You want to give them enough information to draw them in, but not overwhelm them and risk losing interest.
- Showcasing your strengths . Focus on the positives, and don’t be afraid to highlight how your past and experiences make you uniquely qualified.
While finding a new legal job in a competitive market isn’t exactly easy, staying resilient and adaptive will lead you to success. By crafting a great cover letter, you’re more likely to be noticed in this—and any—job market.
How do I write a cover letter for a law job?
Start by introducing yourself. In the first paragraph, include details about your current role (or education, if you’re a student). Be sure to mention any referrals or mutual acquaintances. Next, explain why you’d be a great fit for this particular firm. Include specific reasons.
What do law firms look for in cover letters?
Senior partners and hiring managers will be paying attention to your qualifications. It’s helpful to connect your past legal work, academic specializations, and other life experiences with the job description. Remember, they want to hire someone who can do the job.
How to write a cover letter for legal internship?
Your cover letter for a legal internship should be concise, non-generic, error-free, and employer-focused. Use your opening paragraph to introduce yourself, the main body to summarize your qualifications, and the concluding paragraph to leave a positive impression and outline next steps.
How to address a legal cover letter with no name?
Address your legal cover letter to the person responsible for hiring at the firm, such as a senior partner or hiring manager. If you do not have this information, consult the firm’s website or contact its human resources department.
We published this blog post in June 2020. Last updated: February 3, 2023 .
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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.
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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 and in Firm Prospects by clicking "hiring contacts.”
- Use the NALP Directory’s mail merge feature for generating multiple letters.
- 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
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- Cover Letter Examples
Law Firm Cover Letter: Sample and Writing Guide
Your skills in legal research and writing are Skadden-worthy. But you’ll need an affirmed law firm cover letter to convince the partners of your skills and get the job.
As seen in:
Your law firm cover letter has to work like a case brief of your application. Why? Because your legal resume won’t speak for itself. To get interviewed, summarize your skills and qualifications in a quick four-paragraph letter. But there’s a plan to follow if you want to get the partners and HR director on your side.
This guide will show you a law firm cover letter example and the best tips on how to write a cover letter for law firm jobs step-by-step.
Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.
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Sample cover letter for a resume— See more cover letter samples and create your cover letter here .
Law Firm Cover Letter Sample
Harvard Law School Student
887 Cherry Ridge Drive
Cambridge, MA 02141
Boyer, White & Boyer
46 Stadium Drive
Boston, MA 02138
Dear Ms. Boyer,
I’m a second-year student attending Harvard Law School, writing to apply for your summer internship position. I learned about the position through Harvard’s public service database, but I’ve also heard good things from three older students I met as Junior Vice President of Harvard Law’s ACLU Club. Interning at Boyer, White & Boyer would allow me to strengthen my research and writing skills, and I’m confident that my work ethic and trial preparation experience will help your partners and associates improve their client service and efficiency.
Your job posting on LinkedIn says you need an intern with litigation knowledge, research skills, and writing skills. As a member of the Moot Court Honors Board, I presented 5 legal arguments and was on the team that won State Finals. I also researched 22 cases during my first-year internship with Locklin & Dubord, with multiple commendations from the partners for efficiency and accuracy. I wrote a weekly column on trial law in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Finally, I’ve written 50+ memoranda and correspondences for partners and associates.
In the past two semesters, I got involved with Harvard’s Alliance for Reproductive Justice, where I worked directly with professors Alice Wharton and David Mathieu to facilitate discussions and perform research. I also volunteer for the Animal Law Society, and my work as a Junior Editor and Researcher for the Journal on Legislation has helped broaden my knowledge of the current regulation environment. I believe an internship at Boyer, White & Boyer would increase my hands-on knowledge in these areas.
My resume and enclosed references will show the other ways I fit your internship requirements. I would value the opportunity to speak with you in person about how I can help extend your firm’s efficiency and accuracy. I’ll check back with your office in a couple weeks to see if we can arrange a time to meet.
That’s a Jones-Day-level law firm cover letter example.
Your cover letter for law firms needs an equally strong resume. See our guide: Legal Resume Sample
Hunting a specific law firm job? See these guides:
- Legal Cover Letter Sample
- Legal Assistant Cover Letter Sample
- Paralegal Cover Letter Sample
- Judicial Clerkship Cover Letter Sample
- Formal Cover Letter Sample
- Federal Cover Letter Sample
- Best Cover Letter Samples for All Careers
Law Firm Cover Letter Template
Here’s how to write a cover letter for law firm jobs:
1. Use the proper law firm cover letter formatting and layout
- Cover letter font : Select a professional font (Cambria, Arial, Helvetica, Verdana).
- Margins: one inch on both sides and the top and bottom.
- Cover letter line spacing : 1.15.
- Cover letter outline : 4 paragraphs.
Read more: Cover Letter Format
2. Create a professional law firm cover letter heading
- Make your cover letter header match your resume header.
- Start your cover letter with your name, job title , and contact info: email, phone, and LinkedIn ( 87% of recruiters use Linkedin to investigate applicants.)
- Add the date a double-space below your contact info.
- Leave another double-space, then add the partner’s name and info.
Read more: How and to Whom Should I Address a Cover Letter?
3. Use a personal greeting with a targeted first paragraph
- Start with “Dear [Partner Name],” (never use “ To Whom It May Concern” cover letters ).
- Introduce yourself with your name, title, and the job you’re applying for.
- Make it clear why this job and law firm matter to you.
- Link your interest in the firm to your legal skills and accomplishments to date.
Read more: How to Start a Cover Letter
4. Prove you’re the perfect candidate in your middle paragraphs
- Restate the legal job requirements from the firm’s job posting.
- Show how your achievements make you a match.
- Don’t restate your entire resume.
- Do highlight the best features in your resume that fit the role.
- Unlike most jobs, law firm cover letters can be 4 or 5 paragraphs.
Should you mention salary in a cover letter? See our guide: How to Include Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter
5. Explain why you want to join the firm
- Say what you like about the law firm.
- Convince them why this job matters to you.
- Ideally, spend a sentence or two on this in each paragraph.
- Doing this proves you’ll value the position if you get it.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows jobs for legal assistants and other law firm support staff rising much faster than average. Your cover letter helps you get the best of these.
6. Offer something to end your law firm cover letter
- Point the partners to your other application documents.
- Ask to set up a meeting.
- Suggest more skills and benefits you’ll bring to the table.
- Set expectations for the future.
Read more: The Best Cover Letter Closings
7. Add a professional sign-off at the end
- Write, “Best regards” or “Kind regards” and then a double-space.
- Repeat your name, title, number, and email address.
- Add a digital signature for a professional touch.
- Include a list of cover letter enclosures .
Don’t wait too long. Follow up more than once with a brief phone call or email. Learn more: Job Application Follow-Up Email Templates
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a professional resume template here for free .
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
Questions? Concerns? We’re here for you. If you’ve still got questions about how to write a Sullivan & Cromwell-level cover letter for law firm jobs, drop me a line in the comments.
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3 Attorney Cover Letter Samples & Writing Guide in 2023
- Attorney Cover Letter
- Senior Attorney Cover Letter
- Trademark Attorney Cover Letter
- Your Best Attorney Cover Letter
Your writing skills are second to none, you can solve any host of legal problems, and you know the law inside and out—you’re an exemplary attorney. You know you can win justice for future clients, fight legal battles shrewdly, help folks stay on the right side of the law, and bolster the reputation of any firm, but first, you have to convince them you’re the right choice.
Getting the job starts with a cover letter and resume. It’d be great if all employers cared about was your track record of winning cases, but both your attorney resume and cover letter must present strong evidence of your qualifications and on-the-job skills to create a rock-solid case for the role.
Easier said than done. You already spend your days scouring through research and legalese, and now you have to spend more time writing. It can feel like the odds are stacked against you, but we can help you draft, complete, and polish your cover letter with our three attorney cover letter examples and practical writing guide.
Before you know it, you’ll have a cover letter that gets you noticed and sets the precedent for those to come.
Attorney Cover Letter Example
USE THIS TEMPLATE
Why this cover letter works
- Just as you would for your resume, include metrics in your attorney cover letter. If you drafted a new substantive motion, explain how your efforts created a positive impact for the client or company.
- As much as you can, include experience that matches the attorney job description .
- If you don’t have experience in the chosen field, share your transferable skills and your eagerness to transition to a new practice area.
Senior Attorney Cover Letter Example
- In your senior attorney cover letter, follow an outline (like the one we’ll provide in a bit) to ensure you’re including the necessary details.
- Specifically for your body paragraphs, shoot for three objectives: explaining your experience, a specific task or requirement you accomplished, and what resulted from it.
- Derive a theme (or multiple) from the organization’s mission or job description to center your cover letter around; then, include details from your experience that relate to that theme.
Trademark Attorney Cover Letter Example
- It’s okay to get a little personal if you can connect it with the job description. Use your experiences and knowledge of the company to discuss a goal, ideal, or passion you both share.
- Not every past position you’ve held will perfectly fit this new role, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t transferable skills you can include in your trademark attorney cover letter.
- Scour the attorney job ad for general responsibilities instead of strict specifics. Look for keywords like “collaboration,” “develop,” “identify,” and “research;” then incorporate positions where you used those job skills .
Need a Matching Resume for Your Attorney Cover Letter?
You can start editing this template immediately, you can choose a template that matches the first two attorney cover letter samples, or you can choose a completely different resume template . They’re all free, and they’re all there to make your life a little easier as you work on securing your next attorney position.
Need a resume to pair with your attorney cover letter?
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Beat the Competition with Your Best Attorney Cover Letter
As an attorney, you know how you can best help your client, but do you know how to advocate for yourself? Your cover letter must present a favorable argument for your qualifications, exhibit knowledge of the company, and relate your skills to the job description’s requirements—all with a professional yet ardent tone.
It’s a lot, but if anyone can effectively present their accomplishments to a tough crowd, it’s you. Write a hard-hitting attorney cover letter with these simple tips.
Tip 1: Due diligence is a must
There’s no point in submitting a generic cover letter . If your cover letter looks like it’s been submitted to multiple organizations, employers will assume you’re not all that interested in the job.
Moreover, if your cover letter doesn’t speak to their job description, they’ll assume you aren’t a good fit. Instead, hit the books (figuratively) and research the company. Then address their specific needs based on what you find online and in their job description.
If you reveal a strong link between your qualifications and their requirements, employers will be hard-pressed not to consider you.
Tip 2: Detail a couple of major accomplishments
No one likes a broken record, so your attorney cover letter can’t simply repeat your resume. A cover letter’s purpose is to relate your experiences and skills to the company in a way your resume can’t.
A cover letter also gives you the space to examine specific accomplishments in detail. You may argue that you’ve covered everything in your resume, but we know that’s not the case. Go beyond the basics to explore the motivations behind your achievements and how they reveal your value on the job. Are you exceptionally thorough? Find a task that highlights your attention to detail. Are you a whiz at research? Integrate that detail into a metric about your cases.
Here’s one example that gives you a glimpse into the candidate’s methods and motivations.
As a senior associate with Pincus & Associates, PC, I mentored summer and junior associates throughout their onboarding process. After the initial training period, I realized many mentees were struggling with repeat issues, such as voir dire and preparing witnesses. To combat this, I created video lectures and PowerPoint slides to explain procedures and laws surrounding the issues and gave examples, both good and bad. After two months of video training, the new hires completed double the number of tasks, and their client satisfaction scores rose by 18 percent.
These examples show the candidate’s passion for the job and their relevant experience. Moreover, the candidate demonstrates the value they’ll bring to their next role.
Tip 3: Nail down a winning tone & persuasive message
You’ve successfully incorporated your research, accomplishments, and personal style into your cover letter, but a cover letter is more than that. Here comes the tricky part: adjusting your message and tone.
The correct message and tone can mean the difference between getting dismissed or getting noticed. Remember, although we’ve compared a cover letter to a trial, your letter shouldn’t sound like a cross-examination. It also shouldn’t come across as flattering, casual, or confusing.
Think of your cover letter as the pre-interview. It’s a way to get your foot in the door and encourage further communication. Nailing the right message and tone isn’t easy, but there is good news: unlike a trial, you can start over.
Revision plays a huge part in writing cover letters. No one has a perfect first draft, and oftentimes, even the second or third drafts aren’t ideal (ask us how many times we’ve revised our cover letter examples). Luckily, you can keep revising and editing until you have an error-free draft that accurately sums up your experience and fervor for the job.
If you think your judgment isn’t perfectly sound, you can appeal to a coworker and ask them to suggest edits. Their new perspective is more likely to catch content errors and grammatical faux-pas.
Think of your cover letter as the pre-interview. It’s a way to get your foot in the door and encourage further communication.
All that’s left is one last round of revision before you save it and send in your application to the attorney job you’ve been eyeing.
Build Your Attorney Cover Letter with Our Handy Outline
Building arguments are your strong suit, which will help you immensely when writing your cover letter. But even the most experienced of writers can find themselves paralyzed by the blank page. Use our outline to build a case employers can’t refuse.
How to start an attorney cover letter
Your contact info: Don’t leave your future employer wondering how to contact you. Include your email, number, and address (city and state) at the top of your cover letter. Many employers also like to see your LinkedIn profile.
- Formatting: Don’t include your name in the address, whether in a template or block format. In block format, you’ll only need to include your name in the signature. In a template, your name goes on the letterhead, too.
Date: Adding a date to your cover letter is a professional touch, and it can help both you and the employer keep track of your documents. Just change the date to reflect the actual day you submit your application.
- Formatting: Write out the full date, e.g. January 3, 2023.
Inside address: Although a virtual cover letter doesn’t need to be sent by post, you should still include the employer’s address, also known as the inside address. Include the hiring manager’s name, their official title, and the company’s physical location.
Some companies are a bit tricky to track down, especially if they have multiple locations. Scouring Facebook, LinkedIn, and the company’s website usually yields favorable results. Also, check the job description—sometimes they specify where or to whom your documents should be sent. If there are multiple locations, use the address of the location in which you’ll work.
Heather Adams, Firm Administrator Reed McClure 1215 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1700 Seattle, WA 98161
- Formatting : Each part of the address should be on a new line. Double-space between the inside address and greeting.
Greeting: Every word of your cover letter matters, including your greeting (also called the salutation). A poor greeting indicates a lack of etiquette (dangerous in the highly competitive legal field). The good news? A good greeting is pretty easy to get right. Use “dear” and the name of the hiring manager.
Dear Ms. Adams:
- Formatting: Plenty of letters use a comma in the greeting, but colons are more professional, especially for an attorney.
How to write your attorney cover letter
Body: Just as a case has clearly defined sections, a cover letter has a structure.
Opening paragraph: Applying to job after job might get monotonous, but your opener has to sound genuinely excited. Don’t underestimate the power of sincere enthusiasm for the organization and knowledge of its operations. It can also help to include personal details to empathize with the employer. Although, we would urge you not to include intimate details like this:
Your law firm values hard work and dedication, which sums up my career. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to become a lawyer. I even acted out cases with my stuffed animals! As I grew older, I made sure I received top marks in every class so I could attend Harvard, the law school of my dreams. My commitment was so intense that I never had a relationship that lasted more than 3 months, but it was so worth it.
Although this opener definitely keeps the hiring manager reading, it’s probably because they find your cover letter funny (also known as you don’t stand a chance) instead of compelling. It’s far too personal and has no real relevance to the job. Instead, include details that relate to the company and what you can offer:
The Conservation Law Center’s mission to provide legal assistance to conservation organizations exemplifies my goals as a senior attorney. Throughout my career, I have offered at least 60 hours a year of pro bono work surrounding environmental law. The senior staff attorney position at your law center is a way to combine my passion for conservation, my love of mentorship, and my years of experience to provide assistance where needed most.
Here, Valente explains his background in environmental law and why he wants to work for the company. He leaves no doubt that he wants to work for them specifically, which will make any hiring manager take notice.
Paragraphs 2-3: Each paragraph should substantiate your claims in the opening paragraph. Your space is limited, so focus on the highlights. Ideally, keep each paragraph focused on one accomplishment like this:
Later, as a trademark attorney for Classics United Entertainment, I had the opportunity to work with a cross-functional team of designers, actors, producers, directors, and artists to create trademarks for all six departments within the Spears & Things division. For each trademark, I conducted a rigorous trademark clearance search to ensure trademark law compliance and eligibility. Once completing the trademark clearance process, my team and I successfully gave our efforts to developing clearance search procedures for future legal staff, creating a cohesive system across the three CUE divisions.
Although this paragraph isn’t focused on one task, it is focused on one process, and one aspect of that process in particular. Stella explains the overall trademark clearance process but keeps the focus on teamwork with phrases like “work[ing] with a cross-functional team” and “[giving] our efforts.” She effectively shows her legal abilities and her team-building strategy, both of which bode well for future employers.
Closing paragraph: Good endings are hard to achieve because they have to leave the recruiters both curious yet satisfied. Scale back and reiterate the big-picture view of your values and qualifications and how they align with what the company/organization needs. End with a call to action that encourages the employer to reach out. Just don’t fall into arrogance like this:
This job requires someone who has years of experience and who values justice. In that case, I am your perfect candidate. In my 10 years of work, I have never lost a case, and I love to argue until everyone knows I’m right. I know I can win the most cases for your company; reach out to me if you want to hire a winner.
Not only is this arrogant, but it’s also unprofessional. Instead, write something that humbly indicates your enthusiasm:
My goal has always been to provide clients with trustworthy, honest service that makes clients feel safe and valued. Reed McClure shares my vision of providing litigation services to improve the lives of both clients and the community. At your convenience, I welcome the chance to further demonstrate how our goals are aligned and how I can personally contribute to Seattle’s civil case resolution.
This close reminds the employer of the candidate’s persona, values, and aligned goals. It’s also clear that a follow-up is desired and anticipated.
- Formatting : Single-space your paragraphs, but double-space in between paragraphs.
How to end an attorney cover letter
Signature: Mind your manners and say “thank you” if you haven’t already said it in the closing paragraph. Then, sign off with a professional closer along with your name.
- Formatting : If you’re presenting any hard copies of your attorney cover letter, quadruple space to sign your name in blue/black ink.
Enclosure(s): This is an important piece to include although many cover letters miss it. This section delineates any other documents you’re attaching, which shows employers you’ve done your research regarding their requests and requirements. In addition to your resume, you may need to include documents like your law school transcript, a writing sample, and/or the job application.
Enclosures: Resume J.D. transcript Writing sample USPTO Law School Clinic Certificate
- Formatting : Use the singular or plural form of “enclosure” depending on what you’re enclosing.
Your Dream Attorney Role Awaits…Almost
Your cover letter is finished! Case closed, right? Objection—you still have to perfect your attorney resume . Both resume and cover letter work in tandem to affirm and defend your qualifications, so both must be polished and complete.
But don’t stress—we have you covered. We offer free modern resume templates for you to use, or you can try one of our Word resume templates (there’s one created especially for a lawyer). You can craft a winning resume in no time; in fact, if you like this attorney resume example, you can begin editing it now.
Senior Attorney Resume
Need a resume to pair with your AP English teacher cover letter?
Whether you’re outlining your resume or checking it over a final time, our smart resume tool will help you identify gaps and errors. We’re here for you every step of the way, so you can keep doing what you do best—fighting for justice.
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How to write winning covering letters for law firms
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 .
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How do I write a cover letter for a law job?
[email protected] December 1, 2010. Miriam A. Nunberg. Staff Attorney. U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.
Cover Letters · First Paragraph. Begin your letter with a statement of who you are and why you are writing. · Body Paragraph(s). This is the section in which you
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
I'm excited to be applying for the Attorney position at Crane & Jenkins. I have a high level of interest in this role because my experience
Start with “Dear [Partner Name],” (never use “To Whom It May Concern” cover letters). · Introduce yourself with your name, title, and the job you
A Summer Associate at a law firm, applying via the Early Interview Program. Page 2. SAMPLE 1L SUMMER ASSOCIATE COVER LETTER. 630 West 113th Street, Apt. 503.
As an attorney, you know how you can best help your client, but do you know how to advocate for yourself? Your cover letter must present a favorable argument
Sample Large Law Firm Cover Letter. Aaron Paik. 600 Commonwealth Avenue. Boston, MA 02215. (617) 555-1212 • [email protected] July 10, 2016.
1. The introduction to your cover letter · 2. A paragraph on why you want to work at that law firm · 3. A paragraph highlighting why you're a good fit for the law