Cover Letters For Law School

How you present yourself and your credentials to potential employers is crucial.  Your first impression must be impeccable – this means an accurate, well-executed legal resume, cover letter and whatever other materials the employer requests.  At the initial application stage, most employers expect only a resume and cover letter when you are applying directly to them.  Other materials that may be requested, however, include:  a law school transcript (either unofficial or official), an undergraduate transcript, a writing sample and a list of references.  Always be sure to verify the materials required by each employer prior to applying for a summer or post-graduate position. [read more]

Entire Marketing Yourself to Legal Employers Information [view]

Sample Resumes

Sample Cover Letters

  • Cover #1 (1L looking for summer associate position - large firm)
  • Cover #2 (1L looking for summer employment - small firm)
  • Cover #3 (2L looking for summer associate position)
  • Cover #4 (2L looking for summer employment)
  • Cover #5 (3L looking for permanent employment)
  • Cover #6 (Public Service)
  • Cover #7 (Summer Judicial Intern)

Sample Transcript

Sample List of Reference

Sample Writing Samples

Sample Thank you Letters

Different schools of thought exist when it comes to cover letters for job applications. Back when I applied for legal jobs, I took a “do no harm” approach, using the cover letter merely to transmit my résumé, transcript, and writing sample. But jobs were more plentiful back then.

In a tougher legal job market, employers expect more from cover letters. For cover letter advice from an in-house perspective, see David Mowry’s post. For cover letter advice from a small-firm perspective, see Jay Shepherd’s post.

And for an example of how not to write a cover letter, keep reading….

This clerkship application letter went to a judge up in Alaska. It’s now making the rounds among Alaska law clerk circles.

We’ve removed the salutation line and the sign-off, but everything else is intact. And no, the salutation line did not read “DEAREST BELOVED” — which might come as a surprise, since the letter is more flowery than the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Here it is (click to enlarge):

“Law school reinforced my understanding that knowledge is a tool.” But it’s not the only “tool” out there.

Looking on the bright side, reading this cover letter while plowing through hundreds of clerkship applications must have given the judge a chuckle. It’s nothing if not… refreshing. “I sipped confidently from this hearty libation.”

That was my second-favorite line. My favorite: “I am extremely self aware.”

We might do more on epic cover letters for legal jobs. If you have a specimen you’d like to share, send it our way by email (subject line: “Cover Letter”). Thanks.

Earlier: Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Enclosed Please Find … No Reason to Hire Me
House Rules: Use Your Résumé and Cover Letter to Get Inside

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