Cover Letter Advice
The cover letter is a sample of your written work and should be brief (preferably one page), persuasive, well-reasoned, and grammatically perfect.
A good cover letter:
- Tells the employer who you are (e.g., a first-year student at YLS) and what you are seeking (e.g., a summer intern position);
- Shows that you know about the particular employer and the kind of work the employer does (i.e., civil or criminal work, direct client service, "impact" cases, antitrust litigation);
- Demonstrates your writing skills;
- Demonstrates your commitment to the work of that particular employer and converys that you have something to contribute;
- Shows that you and that employer are a good "fit;" and
- Tells the employer how to get in touch with you by email, telephone, and mail.
Determine to whom you should address the cover letter. If you are applying to law firms, address your letter to the recruiting director. For NALP member firms, use the NALP Directory to obtain contact information. (NALP also provides a useful mail merge feature for generating multiple letters). For other employers, you can refer to their websites, or contact the office to determine to whom your materials should be directed.
Although there are many ways to write a cover letter, the following format has worked well for students in the past.
- In the first paragraph of your cover letter, explain why you are sending your resume to the employer: “I am a first-year student at Yale Law School and am seeking a position with your organization for the summer 20xx.” If you are applying to public interest employers and are eligible for SPIF funding, you can mention that here.
- Use the second paragraph to explain your interest in the employer, including your interest in the employer’s geographic location, reputation, specialty area, or public service.
- In the third paragraph, stress why this employer should hire you. Elaborate on the qualifications that you possess that will make you an exceptional summer intern or attorney.
- The final paragraph should thank the employer for taking the time to review your application and tell them how to reach you. You may wish to state that you will contact the employer in a couple of weeks to follow-up and then actually do so. This is especially true with public interest employers who are often understaffed and will appreciate your extra effort.
Additional CDO Resources
8 Cover Letter Tips and a Sample Cover Letter For Your Law Firm Internship
The cover letter is a small email you write while applying to a law firm. It is really your pitch which says “Take me as an intern” Draft it carefully and do note the following points.
1. The body of the email should itself contain the cover letter. Don’t attach a 300 word cover letter because it won’t be opened in ten cases out of nine. Ten out of nine? It might seem an exaggeration or a misprint but it is none.
Instead of sending your cover letter as an attachment, write it in the body of the email itself.
2. Subject of the email which is the subject of your cover letter should be detailed and educated, a bit like this: Internship Application: 1st May- 30th June: Mumbai Office.
These are the three things (subject + duration + location) should make the subject of your internship cover letter; nothing more and nothing less.
3. Focus and customise. Don’t send an email to dozens of law firms at one go. Identify 5-6 law firms which interest you and send applications tailor-made for them.
For example if you are applying to an IP boutique law firm, include a section in your CV (right at the top, mind you) which reads ‘Achievements in the field of IP’. Also in your cover letter mention these achievements precisely.
4. Art of the start. Start with naming the person you want this to read; the recruitment head, the managing partner or the internship coordinator. Do your research.
Assuming the name of the person is Ram Kumar and the email id for internships is email@example.com and you start with “Respected Mr. Ram Kumar” you catch his attention.
If you begin with Respected Sir/Madam you don’t get anyone’s attention.
5. Write English. Please don’t show of your legal writing skills here. Write simple, plain, correct, readable English. Reserve legalese for later, when you actually get the internship.
Do a spelling and grammar check on Word on your cover letter.
6. Attach your CV. If you are not careful with this little thing (of attaching files), the law firm will be unwilling to hand you bigger things like internship.
7. Ask. Ask if you should be sending your writing samples or if the firm will want to take a telephonic interview. Leave your contact number in the footer.
8. A little quote. Emails can have a quote at the end. If it relates to law, is a smart one and is something you identify with, you can include it in every email you send including the internship application. This might be a little controversial but it can tell the recruiter a lot about you.
It adds a human touch and might bring a smile on the recruiters face. A smiling man/woman is a person more likely to give you the internship. So choose the quote carefully.
Here is a sample cover letter for a law firm internship:
Dear Mr. Ram Kumar
This section is: Art of start:Who you are, what you do and where are you going.
I am Rahul Sharma, a 4th year law student from Gujarat National Law University (GNLU), Gandhinagar and am very keen to intern at ABC Law Offices (Delhi) from 1st May- 30th June.
This is called: Why Me. The Best Things I Have Done. Why Your Firm Alone is the Perfect Professional Habitat For Me.
I have previously interned at XYZ’s Delhi office where I was a part of the Capital Markets team. During my internship under Mr. Mukul Romani, senior counsel, Supreme Court of India I learnt the basics of legal drafting under his tutelage. I have also completed the Mergers and Acquisitions course offered by the Bombay Stock Exchange. Moreover, I was a part of the ANLU team (oralist) which won the NUKS corporate law moot competition in 2010.
I am sure interning at a prestigious law firm like SRGR Law Offices will help me further improve upon my skills. Given my prior experience and interest in corporate law I am sure that Ill be able to contribute immensely towards your practice. I have learnt from LegallyIndia.com about your firm’s growth plans and it will be exciting to be a part of a young and growing team of lawyers.
The Section: I am humble, eager and good.
I am attaching my CV for your kind perusal and will be grateful if I am given an opportunity to intern at your firm. Please let me know if you require anything else as a part of the internship application. Thank you for your time and consideration.
4th year student, BA.LLB (Hons) course
Contact: 999999999 (M)
P.S. Just a bonus for you: I have found a nice resource with cover letter info – academichelp.net with a useful “how to write” guide and a lot of free samples [Sponsored].
I am the Admin of Lawctopus. I am for law students, of law students and by law students. I am Torts and Contracts and moots and internships. I am your boyfriend! And your girlfriend too! Mentor. Friend. Junior. Senior. I am the footnote in your research paper. Foreword in your life. The jugaad for your internship. The side gig which earns you bucks. I am Maggi. Pocket money too.