We surveyed US hiring decision-makers to find out if cover letters are still necessary and if *you* need one to land a job in 2020. Here’s what we found.
Not everyone’s going to parachute into their dream law job by stumbling into Harvey Specter’s hotel room.
And you, unlike Mike Ross from Suits, actually have some legal qualification.
Build a strong case for you being hired that can’t be dismissed.
Let’s go to trial.
In this article:
- Two legal cover letter samples: one for a candidate with some experience, and an entry-level legal cover letter.
- A clear ruleset on formatting a legal cover letter.
- A fill-in-the-blanks template that will get your resume to trial.
First, let’s set a precedent with our two legal cover letter samples. See how they present their evidence to the jury and make their argument.
1. Legal Cover Letter Samples
The first legal cover letter example comes from Frank, who is applying to be a paralegal with a few years of experience already.
The position requires someone who can take care of reporting, client contact, and case reasearch.
See how well this legal cover letter shows he’s the perfect candidate:
Example #1: Legal Cover Letter Sample
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167 Godfrey Road
New York, NY 10019
New York, Dec 22, 2019
Bear & Jones LLC
1 Western Avenue
New York, NY 10019
I was eagerly awaiting the opening of the uptake for paralegals at your firm. I have the legal research and preparation skills to work on dynamic corporate law cases at a firm like Bear & Jones, where I could grow and expand my knowledge and skillset.
I have accumulated 4+ years of experience as a legal assistant at Sutton, Sachs, Meyer, which allowed me to acquire and constantly exercise the legal skills you currently require for your paralegal to have. You describe your priorities as reporting, client contact, and case preparation research. In my previous position, I delivered a minimum of 2 reports daily on key developments and other factors affecting the cases currently ongoing, and did so with error-free accuracy. I have assisted paralegals and attorneys in giving counsel to corporate clients at least once a week in person, and also through the reports I generated, which were often used directly with clients.
I am excited to be applying to learn at such an esteemed firm as Bear & Jones, and I recognize that I am applying not only to work, but learn there. I appreciate the firm’s commitment to developing its employees and by allowing me to become a paralegal would be the ideal first step, and I commit to developing further.
Could we schedule a call or a meeting to discuss how I can apply my research skills best to the cases you are currently working on?
Frank has definitely put a solid opening statement forward to present his evidence efficiently.
Perhaps, you have less experience. Writing an entry-level legal cover letter is not easy.
We’re here to help.
Here’s a candidate with less experience, Kimberly.
This position calls for strong office and computer skills, basic knowledge of legal terminology, forms, policies and procedures, as well as management of various tasks and issues for assigned lawyers.
Kimberly has not worked in this position before, but she has crafted her legal cover letter to tick all their boxes.
Example #2: Entry-Level Legal Cover Letter
Antoinette J. Mason
4735 Aaron Smith Drive
New York, NY 10019
New York, Dec 22, 2019
Bear & Jones LLC
1 Western Avenue
New York, NY 10019
I am grateful for the opportunity to apply for a Legal Secretary position at Bear & Jones. As a Paralegal Studies student with a 3.9 GPA, I recognize that I can only learn so much from theory, and I need to enter the law office to start the real learning process. Working at a firm with such a reputation as Bear & Jones would be an honor and a privilege—in my mind there aren’t many better places in the world to learn.
The job posting calls for a legal secretary that can effectively assist the daily work of lawyers, with proven office skills and knowledge of the basics of the law. During my college study so far, and during the last year of high school, I held short and long-term positions on data entry projects for medical and insurance companies. I am proud to say that the largest project of these, spanning over 50,000 individual files, I completed with 99.2% accuracy. I developed an attention to detail and a 75wpm+ typing speed at this job, equipping me to handle any other clerical task. My grasp of the law and the ways I can be of assistance to your lawyers is exemplified by my 3.9 GPA, as during my paralegal studies course, I learn both the law, and how to assist the lawyers. I am confident that equipped with these advantages, I can make a difference at Bear & Jones, starting today.
A large part of why I am applying is your commitment to the development of employees. I was inspired by hearing one of your Partners talk about their way from legal assistant to partner during career days at my university’s law department. I am strongly committed to my development, and Bear & Jones would be the most fertile ground for this.
When is a good time to have a meeting or a call to discuss how I can apply my clerical best practices to ensuring smooth operation behind the scenes at Bear & Jones?
Antoinette J. Mason
These were two legal cover letter samples that will get a unanimous verdict.
Were you looking for a legal assistant cover letter? See:Legal Assistant Cover Letter: Examples & Ready-To-Use Template
Remember,a legal cover letter alone won’t land you that job. You also need a strong resume. Check out our dedicated guides:
First, let’s set up your legal cover letter.
2. How to Write a Legal Cover Letter Step by Step (Template)
Here’s how to write a job-winning legal cover letter:
1. Use The Correct Cover Letter Format
With legal documents, there’s always a clear format they have to follow, certain boxes they have to tick. Your legal cover letter is no different. You don’t have long to make your case. At any moment, you could just go back in the pile. Or worse—in the bin. Once you have them reading, you need to hold their attention with strong, convincing evidence.
Get your cover letter format right—readable, clear and accessible:
- Left-align. Don’t justify. Indenting is a personal choice.
- Choose a readable, but elegant font that matches your resume font—think Arial, Calibri, Noto, Garamond.
- Use 1.15 line spacing. Leave even spaces between sections and paragraphs.
- Inserting a 1-inch margin on all sides will make your legal cover letter appear neat and composed.
- One page is plenty for a cover letter for these jobs.
Once you have all the settings ironed out, you’re probably wondering what to include in your cover letter.
2. Make Your Legal Cover Letter Header Match Your Resume
The header of your cover letter should match your resume header. Under your details you should put the city and date of the letter, and double, triple check that you have pasted the details of the correct hiring manager below. Nobody is trusting you with their caseload if you send them an application with the address of their competitor on it.
Do a quick cross-examination against our legal cover letter sample header to make sure you’re home free:
Legal Cover Letter Sample Header
[ Your Full Name]
[ Your Job Title ] (Optional)
[ Phone Number ]
[ Email Address ]
[ LinkedIn Profile ]
[ City and Date ]
[ Hiring Manager’s Full Name ]
[ Hiring Manager’s Position ]
[ Company Name ]
[ Company Street Address ]
[ City and Zip Code ]
3. Identify The Position and Introduce Yourself
Don’t make your legal cover letter an investigation. State exactly which job opening you’re applying for in the opening paragraph of your cover letter, and right away give them a reason to keep reading. It should be either a taste of your most convincing feature, or something that will satisfy their biggest need or requirement.
Address the recruiter by name in your cover letter. If you can’t find it in the job posting, use LinkedIn. If that doesn’t work, board the time machine and call their telephone.
Here’s a very basic structure of a legal cover letter sample. Fill in the [blanks] with information relevant to you and the position you’re applying for.
Legal Cover Letter Sample: Introduction
Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name]:
I would like to express my elation that [Target Company Name] is finally searching for a [Position Name]. Having worked as a [Previous Position Title] for [number of years]+ years, I developed extensive [administrative support/schedule management/case preparation/legal document drafting/document management/other relevant skills you have] skills, which make me confident that I will make a positive impact on the daily operation of [Target Company Name].
Expert Hint: Most law firms will run their recruitment online. There are some specific issues to keep in mind when sending your legal cover letter electronically, which our email cover letter guide will clue you up on.
4. Make a Case For Why They Should Hire You
Good news. If they’re still reading past the first paragraph, all that’s left to do is not to blow it. You have got their attention, now make a strong case for why this should be the last legal cover letter they read today. This paragraph is the trial. Study the job posting and establish what requirements are the most key to them, and what achievements you can back them up with.
Here’s the structure:
Legal Cover Letter Sample: Middle Paragraph
You list your requirements for a [Position Name] to be [refer to the requirements of the job]. During my time as a [Previous Position Title] at [Name of Your Most Recent Company], I have [responsibilities, duties, or projects you’ve successfully completed, supported by metrics, if possible]. The skills and experiences I have gained during this time make me confident that I can step up to the challenge at [Target Company Name].
Expert Hint: BLS statistics forecast much faster than average job growth for Legal Assistants and Paralegals—by 12%, or 39 thousand, in the next decade. Get your legal or paralegal resume ready for trial with our guides.
5. Make Them Feel Special
Employers are starting to understand that employees are not just sets of parameters, achievements, and skills. They are finally starting to clue up on the fact that employees are their own human beings. For this reason, things like a “culture-fit” can be important in an interview process. It could be as simple as letting them know you know what you’re signing up for.
The reality of daily work in many fast-paced law firms can be brutal, and by letting them know you have researched a little before writing your legal cover letter, you can skip ahead of a lot of less-thorough candidates.
Here’s the basic idea:
Entry-Level Legal Cover Letter Sample: Why It Should Be Them
I have decided to apply to join [Target Company Name], as I have a great deal of admiration for your focus on [values/way of working/something you genuinely admire about the company]. These values resonate with me personally, and make me confident that [Target Company Name] is a better place for me to grow and learn than any other.
6. Close With A Strong Statement: Call to Action
By now, you should have made all the arguments you were going to make. So, how to sign off your cover letter? Boldly. If they have gotten this far, you stand a pretty good chance of getting that interview.
So ask for it. Request a call or an interview, underlining it with your strongest argument or achievement.
Here’s how we close our legal cover letter example:
Sample Internship Legal Cover Letter: Call to Action & Closing
Could we have a call or a meeting to discuss how my [your best, most relevant skill/their most important requirement][skills/experience] can help [Target Company Name] achieve [something important to this company]?
[Digital Copy of Your Handwritten Signature]
[Your Full Name]
And this is how you write a perfect cover letter!
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So, have you checked all of these off when writing your legal cover letter?
- Begin with the legal cover letter samples—if needed, ResumeLab has many more cover letter templates you can take inspiration from for free.
- Sort out all your cover letter format settings before you start writing, and check them again afterwards.
- Make sure the header on your legal cover letter matches the one on your resume, check all the info for both you and the hiring manager.
- Identify the position you’re applying for without delay.
- Research which requirements and responsibilities they are most desperate for—and describe your achievements in those in the second paragraph.
- Personalize each individual legal cover letter, and show them what you know and like about their firm.
- Be bold when closing—request a meeting or call, and sign formally.
Did you find our legal cover letter samples helpful? Drop 5 stars! Do you need extra guidance on your cover letter for legal jobs? Drop me a comment, I’ll be more than happy to hear from you!