How To Write A Legal Job Cover Letter (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 9, 2020

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Your cover letter serves as a professional introduction to you. For hiring managers or anyone tasked with going through a bunch of job applications, your cover letter can make or break your chances.

Your cover letter will have to fend for itself, among many other cover letters vying for the same position. Your first impression needs to be memorable, professional, and impressive to stand up amongst seas of applicants.

Whether you’re writing an entry-level cover letter, or a more seasoned, experienced one, the same basic rules apply. Being skilled with your words is essential for the legal profession, and this is your chance to demonstrate your written communication skills.

This article shows you how to write the perfect legal cover letter and offers examples of these tips in action.

What to Include in Your Cover Letter

  1. Correct legal cover letter format. Like all legal documents, legal cover letters need to be precisely formatted. Your legal job cover letter isn’t the place to show off unique and creative layouts, as it is quite a formal and traditional industry. A cover letter with sloppy formatting isn’t likely to be taken very seriously.

    Use a simple, professional font such as Helvetica with 1.15-inch line spacing and one-inch margins on all sides.

    Once you have all the basic details squared away, then you can work on making your cover letter stand out.

  2. Header matched to resume. For a professional cover letter, you’re going to want to make sure that all the details — both visually and in content — match your resume. Your resume and cover letter should look like two halves of the same whole.

    Aside from ensuring that all your information matches that listed on your resume, a legal cover letter has all of the following in this order:

    • Your full name (You generally want to make this the largest piece of text on your cover letter)

    • Your current occupation (Optional)

    • Your address, city, state, and zip code

    • Your phone number

    • Your email

    • Any other relevant contact information or social media (Optional)

    • Today’s date

      Job type you want
      Full Time
      Part Time
      Internship
      Temporary
    • The full name of the person who will be reading your cover letter. If you don’t know who to address your letter to, try looking online for the hiring manager’s name at the law firm you’re applying to.

    • The title of the person reading your cover letter. E.g. “hiring manager” or “partner”

    • The name of the law firm or organization

    • The address, city, state, and zip code of the law firm or organization

  3. Personal greeting. Addressing your cover letter is pretty straightforward, given you know the name of the person you will be speaking to. Use the format “Dear Ms./Mr./Mx. [full name or last name of partner or hiring manager],” for an always appropriate yet personal greeting.

    If you have a prior relationship with this person, you can consider addressing it “Dear [first name],” but tread very carefully with this one. As discussed, the legal profession tends to be more formal, and thus traditional greetings are often more appropriate.

    Whatever you do, don’t address your letter “To whom it may concern.” It comes off as very aloof and is also a bit of a groan-worthy cliche for many hiring managers.

  4. Introduce yourself and specify the position you’re applying for. In the first sentence of the first paragraph, you’ll want to introduce yourself in a basic way and clearly identify the position you’re applying to. You don’t need to re-state your name, but just give a small piece of info about who you are.

    It’s important to state clearly and upfront the specific position you’re applying to, as that’s the reason you’re writing this letter and a point you really want to land.

    In your first paragraph, you’ll also want to mention briefly or (if it’s relevant) in a bit of detail how you found out about this position. Bring up any mutual contacts who may have referred you.

  5. Explain why this position and law firm matter to you. Talk about the job and the company as you understand them. The person reading your cover letter will want to know why you applied to this specific job at this particular organization. So let them know why you would value this job and be a great fit.

    Company’s not only want to find someone who is a dedicated, experienced worker, but they want someone who will be a good “culture fit.” This means that they want someone whose values and goals align with that of the company.

    Convince them that this is not just another box you’re trying to check in your job-search journey, but that you have a genuine interest in what it is they do.

  6. Highlight your best, relevant skills and experience. At the heart of your cover letter is the chance to detail and explain your skills and experience. The way you choose to describe what you’ve done and the knowledge you possess can significantly impact how others view your experience.

    Try to re-state the requirements and qualifications listed in the job posting, and explain how you align with these. You’re going to want to use the exact language they used in their posting to ensure that your application doesn’t get passed over by any kind of software they may be using to screen applicants.

    Of course, you don’t want to put every single thing you’ve done or learned on the cover letter; that’s what your attached resume is for. The cover letter serves as a highlight reel of your biggest achievements related to the job posting.

  7. Focus on them and how you can serve them. Psychologically, humans tend to be most focused on and interested in themselves and their own lives. With this principle, you can get a hiring manager to read on in your cover letter by simply focusing on the organization, why they’re great, and how you can help them be even better.

    A little bit of flattery goes a long way. Try mentioning successes or achievements in the company’s history or the company philosophy. This shows that you are not only aware of what this company does, but you value it.

    With all this being said, don’t be afraid to include a bit of relevant information about your story and who you are. Blending your story with the company’s story is a surefire way to make yourself seem like a great fit.

  8. Call to action at the end. A good ending for a cover letter is crucial. You’ve already gotten past the hard part, which is getting them to read the contents of your letter. You know they are at least partially interested in hiring you, so now’s the time to put a little pressure on them.

    In your final paragraph, include a “call to action,” which is essentially a request that you make for them to take some sort of action. This could be something like asking them to call to schedule a meeting or telling them you look forward to hearing back from them. Anything that lets them know you are eagerly awaiting (and expecting) a response.

  9. Professional closing. After you’ve written the body of your letter, include an appropriate professional closing to tie it all together. Something like “respectfully,” “kind regards,” or “sincerely.” Anything that you think is appropriately formal.

    After this, you’ll type your full name or include a digital signature for an added personal touch.

  10. Proofread for perfect spelling and grammar. Your final step is to proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure all the spelling, grammar, and details are correct and accurate. It’s imperative to make sure that your cover letter looks polished and professional.

    If you’ve been applying to multiple places, triple check to ensure that you have the correct name and information of the organization you’re applying to. If you accidentally leave in the competitor’s information, it’s an awkward moment that doesn’t bode well for you.

Cover Letter Example

To be sure you’re including everything you need to and doing it all right, review the example below. This cover letter demonstrates proper formatting and makes good use of the above tips.

Begin with this sample, which you’re free to take inspiration from, then use the above steps and other cover letter tips to create a perfect cover letter all your own.

Leah Kim
Lewis & Clark Law School Student
618 Seneca Drive
Portland, OR 97205
503-998-0286
leahjkim@gmail.com

10/29/20

Wilma Corwin
Partner
The Immigration Law Office of Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin
919 Hope Street
Portland, OR 97204

Dear Ms. Corwin,

I’m a second-year honors student at Lewis & Clark Law School, and I’m writing to apply for your 2021 summer internship position. I first learned about the incredible work of Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin during Janet Leech’s lecture for the Lewis & Clark Law Society last year. After noting my continued interest, Ms. Leech recently informed me that your office has begun accepting admissions for the summer internship program. I’m eager to use my passion for immigration and public interest law, research and writing skills, and case preparation experience to assist your office in smoothly and efficiently serving its clients.

Since attending Ms. Leech’s lecture, I have been intensely fascinated with Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin’s creative solutions motto. In my work, both on-campus and off, I’ve demonstrated the innovative thinking, leadership drive, and excellent communication skills you require for your interns. During my time as a student, I optimized the L&C Law Society legal journal and won three legal writing competitions at the state level. As an intern for Stoltenberg-Gibson, I participated in drafting legal research and helped prepare and assign around 50 cases.

I bring not only academic and professional experience but real-life experience as well. As a second-generation immigrant, I am passionate about serving local immigrant communities. In my volunteer work, I’ve utilized my fluent Korean language skills and my written and verbal communication skills to advocate for five immigrant families. I am eager to take on any translation, intake, research, organization, or case preparation work.

I am excited to be applying to such a well-known and well-regarded law office. Thank you so much for your consideration of this application. My resume and enclosed references will further demonstrate why I would be a great fit for your summer internship position.

I would love to schedule a call or meeting to discuss how my writing and advocacy skills can assist the Immigration Law Office of Jacobson, Nicolas, and Corwin to offer creative strategies to their clients.

Respectfully,

Leah Kim
Lewis & Clark Law School Student
503-998-0286
leahjkim@gmail.com

Take the hassle out of your job search & get an offer faster
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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