How to Write an Effective Law Firm Cover Letter in 7 Steps
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published June 19, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Job candidates employ various strategies to improve their chances of getting the job for which they applied. One of these is including a cover letter in their application to demonstrate their suitability for their desired position. Learning how to create this properly can help you gain a competitive advantage. In this article, we discuss what a law firm cover letter is, explore its parts, and list the steps on how to write one.
What is a law firm cover letter?
A law firm cover letter is often the first document a hiring manager or potential employer sees when reviewing the application of an individual aspiring to enter the legal profession. It typically accompanies a resume, and it's your opportunity to explain why you're the best candidate for the position. While a resume usually comprises sections with lists that explain a candidate's education, experience, and skills, a cover letter can help you highlight your relevant credentials, demonstrate your writing skills, and communicate your interest in the job opportunity.
A cover letter is a common requirement for job positions in the legal field, such as paralegal, legal secretary, accountants, litigation attorney, and law clerk. The letter usually helps employers screen candidates more effectively by looking at how each one positions themselves regarding the specific qualifications and requirements in the job listing. Sometimes, a well-written cover letter is a deciding factor in a candidate's progression to the next step of the hiring process.
Parts of a cover letter
The structure of a cover letter is generally the same regardless of the position for which the individual is applying or the employer's industry. It's the length and content that vary, and these may depend on how much information the candidate wants to include to demonstrate why they're a good fit for the job. The basic parts of a cover letter are:
Header: This section contains the candidate's contact information. Depending on how they plan to submit the cover letter, they may also include the name and contact details of the company or the hiring manager.
Greeting or salutation: This is the opening of the cover letter and directly addresses the recipient, who's often the hiring manager. A generic salutation may also suffice.
Introductory paragraph: This typically starts with an introduction where the candidate provides a brief background about themselves and states their reason for writing.
Body: The body of the cover letter often consists of one or two paragraphs that describe the candidate's qualifications that make them suitable for a certain job position. They may also highlight their skills and experiences that may give them a competitive advantage.
Closing paragraph: The final paragraph is typically where the candidate states their desire to schedule a follow-up meeting or phone call with the hiring manager to discuss further details about the position. They also reiterate their interest in the job opportunity and thank the reader for their time and consideration in this section.
Closing: This often consists of a complimentary closing, which may be a word or a phrase that indicates the end of the cover letter. The candidate may also include their name and signature if they're going to submit a hard copy of the cover letter.
Related: How to Format a Cover Letter
How to write a cover letter for a law firm
The legal profession is highly competitive. If you're considering applying for a position in a law firm, it's important that you submit a well-crafted cover letter to accompany your resume. This can help you advance to the interview phase of the employee selection process. Here are seven steps you can follow to create an effective cover letter for a job application in the legal services industry:
1. Read the job description
Your cover letter is your chance to impress the hiring manager with your credentials and show them why you're the best person for the job. To do this, it's important that you first read the job description thoroughly and note important details that you may refer to when creating the document, such as the company's required and preferred qualifications. Some job listings also include a brief overview of the organization, which can give you an idea of its culture. These can help you develop an effective cover letter.
2. Conduct research on the company
Hiring managers often consider a candidate's cover letter to determine if they're a good fit for the job and the organization. Knowing more about your prospective employer enables you to write an impressive cover letter that can help you secure an interview. You can review its website and read its mission and values. You can also visit its social media accounts to see how the company interacts with the public and how it presents itself. This can guide the content and tone of your cover letter.
For example, if the organization is passionate about providing free legal services to protect animal rights, it may be a good idea to show the same passion or advocacy. It's beneficial for you to use a formal tone in your cover letter if you're looking for a position in a large law firm. Additionally, there might be instances wherein being more personable may give you an advantage over other candidates. If you're applying to a small or local law firm with a friendly or approachable reputation, showing more personality may be acceptable.
3. Format your cover letter properly
Cover letters typically possess a structure similar to business letters, which usually follow a block format. Here are several guidelines that can help you format your document properly:
Font: It's a good idea to use a font that the hiring manager can easily read. The ideal font size is 10 or 12 points.
Spacing: Use single line spacing and leave a space between the header and greeting and after each paragraph. Leave three spaces between the complimentary closing and your name if you want to sign off your cover letter.
Alignment: It's a good idea to align the entire letter to the left, usually in a block format.
Margins: You may apply one-inch margins to all sides of the document. You can reduce the margins to 3/4 inches to make the content of the cover letter fit one page.
Length: A cover letter is a single-page document that comprises three to four paragraphs.
4. Compose your heading and salutation
The content of the heading depends on how you plan to submit your application. If you're submitting a hard copy, there are two blocks of information that may be necessary for you to include. The first group of text comprises the date, your full name, city, province or territory, phone number, and e-mail address. The second contains the name of the hiring manager and the company's name and address.
For the salutation, it's a good idea to use Dear and follow it with the full name of the hiring manager. You may include their title if you're sure of it. If you're unable to find their name, you may address them by stating their position, such as Dear Hiring Manager.
5. Give a brief introduction
The introductory paragraph typically answers who you are and why you're a good fit for the law firm. You may begin by stating if you're a student or a legal professional. This is also the part where you can mention referrals or the name of a mutual acquaintance to establish a connection with the hiring manager. It's a good idea to be specific about the reasons you're the best candidate for the position for which you applied.
6. Create a substantive body
While you can elaborate on your credentials in this section, it's crucial to keep it concise to maintain the interest of the reader. This is also where you can express why you want to work for the organization, which you may answer by referring to their mission, values, or reputation. When emphasizing your suitability for the role, it may be a good idea to describe how you meet the qualifications they look for in a candidate. You may discuss the following details about yourself in two paragraphs:
Previous roles in the legal field
Community service experience
Publicized works and research or academic specializations
7. Finalize and proofread the letter
In the last paragraph of the cover letter, you can thank the hiring manager for the consideration and add the specific date and time when you plan to contact them for an update on your application. After finishing this part, it's essential to read the entire letter at least twice. This enables you to check for and fix any errors that may be in the document.
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