Cover Letters: First Intro to Future Employers


Cover Letter — A letter that is sent with something to explain the reason for it or to give more information about it.”
-Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

I’m back with part two of my professional development series, and today’s topic is cover letters!  To be honest, I actually don’t like writing cover letters at all.  Prior to law school, I had never written one and, to this day, I still get writer’s block when trying to write one.  So here’s my brief introduction on how to write a great cover letter!

Opening Formalities

This part might be self-explanatory, but it’s always good to know what exactly to include in this section.  First, I include my contact information in a header to my document to ensure it is offset from the text of my cover letter.  Next, I include the contact information of the person whose name is attached to the internship or job that I’m applying to, typically the school’s contact person for that employer.  The final piece of the opening formalities is to include a greeting.  To ensure formality, use “Dear Mr./Ms. ______:”.  In legal letters, a colon is the correct way to end a greeting, not a comma which I always used prior to coming to law school.

Introductory Paragraph

This is probably one of the shortest parts of a cover letter.  In this paragraph, introduce yourself and why you’re writing.  I usually just say my year and the position you’re applying for.  A short and sweet intro is perfect.

Middle Paragraph

This paragraph is the most important paragraph in your entire cover letter.  It explains why you would be a good fit for the position you’re applying to.  You can list specific areas you focus on and specific things you’ve done within that area of law.  Also, it’s nice to point out how you’re connected with an employer if you think it will make you stand out from the pile of applicants.  It’s a chance for you to show your personality since employers are judging you on what you write and not on your actual personality in real life.  Take this opportunity to show that you are actually passionate about a specific subject or even a pro bono opportunity that you’ve done that relates to the position.

Closing Paragraph and Formalities

Like the opening paragraph, the closing paragraph is also quite short.  In this section, just wrap up your letter and express your interest in meeting them in the future.  It’s also nice to express your thanks for a hiring committee to take time out of their days to consider you as a candidate.  Finally, conclude with a salutation and your name.  If you’re handing a physical copy of this to someone, leave some space to sign your name (in blue pen!) before typing your name.

I hope this was helpful to understand how to write a basic cover letter!  Below is a sample cover letter (it’s based heavily on the one I use for applying).  Good luck with applying!

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