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How to Write a Professional Cover Letter

Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to ‘sell yourself’ and explain exactly why you are the best candidate for the role at hand. So, how do you write a cover letter that explains exactly that? Here are some tips!

Write in plain English

There’s no need in a legal cover letter to include fancy and difficult words as firms are mainly looking for someone who is a clear and professional communicator. During a clerkship and when starting out in the legal profession, a majority of work includes preparing reports and summaries which need to be clearly written to ensure clarity. Making sure that you do this in your cover letter provides a great example of your abilities.

Conduct research

One way to demonstrate your legal research skills is to research each firm that you are applying to. Having a good understanding of the areas of law that the firm practises in and adapting your experiences and skills to suit these shows off your research skills. Being able to apply your skills to suit the firm also shows your capability to adapt to any opportunity that might be on offer.

Remember that your education is only one aspect of your skills

As a law student your legal experience is likely to be very limited. One way to stand out is to find ways that your other life experiences can be used to highlight skills that are valued by firms when hiring. Examples such as volunteering, roles in clubs or significant achievements are useful if you are able to show transferable skills. Many of these show leadership, problem-solving or teamwork skills which are all important in the legal profession.

Keep a consistent and professional tone

A polite and professional tone without being overly formal while providing the reasons why you’re the right person for their firm. Avoiding colloquial language is important as it is not used in legal communications and you want to highlight your professional writing skills.

Tailor your cover letter to each job

Using keywords and traits that are highlighted on each job/internship advertisement or on the firm website gives you a better chance of impressing the firm. If you can show how your experience fits with the key values that they are looking for, rather than just submitting the same resume everywhere.

Include your interests

Some candidates may have interests or hobbies that are relevant and are not already listed in your application. Skills such as a language or your involvement in a publication might be of interest to a particular firm or be relevant to a particular job. If you choose to include these, ensure that you have highlighted what these skills or interests have developed and how they could be applied professionally.

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