Writing an effective cover letter
A lawyer cover letter should accompany each resume you send to an employer. Is itnecessary? Absolutely. Many job seekers are skipping this important step in the process, not realizing the full importance of the lawyer cover letter. A cover letter notonly introduces you to a potential employer, but it allows you to provide explanationsand discuss important points or parts of your background that are either not mentionedin your resume, or that cannot be adequately covered in a resume.A lawyer cover letter should always be professional, enthusiastic, sincere, and on point; in other words, it should be specifically tailored to the particular employer towhom it is addressed. The lawyer cover letter should follow the same formatting styleas the resume. For example, if you used 10-point Arial fonts and 2-inch margins onyour resume, your lawyer cover letter should include the same font, margins, andheader as your resume. A lawyer cover letter should be no longer than one page, andinclude at least three paragraphs. Each paragraph should serve a distinct purpose, and provide information related to the position.Here is the basic format for writing an effective lawyer cover letter:
The purpose of the first paragraph is to introduce yourself and refer to the positionyou are applying to. Tell them who you are, why you are writing the letter, and givethem a reason to continue reading the rest of your cover letter. The first sentence of your first paragraph should read something like this: "I am Class of 1990 litigator applying to the Trial Attorney position with the U.S. Department of Justice." In thisfirst paragraph, you should also refer to your practice area, and why you are a good fitfor the position. Also, if the position requires a relocation on your part, be sure tomention any geographic ties that you may have to the region in which the employer islocated.To grab the reader's attention and entice them to keep reading your lawyer cover letter, you should include a statement that sets you apart, such as a personalconnection or specific interest in the position or organization. One example could be:"Professor John A. Smith recommended that I contact you because of your expertisein immigration law." If you do not have a personal contact or recommendation withinthe firm or organization, try something like this: "I was fascinated to read your articlein the August issue of The National Law Journal" or "My extensive experience in tortlitigation and strong interest in that area may be an asset to your firm." Whatever youchoose to include, make sure that it is something that you learned in your researchabout the particular employer or position that sets you apart from other applicants.
The purpose of the second paragraph is to elaborate on your background, experience,and skills and relate how they fit with the position and needs of the employer'sorganization. It is not enough for a potential employer to review your resume and