How to write a job-winning legal cover letter in 5 easy steps

Legal professionals can work in a wide range of positions, from attorneys and legal counselors to administrative assistants and law clerks. To land your dream job in the legal industry, you need to write a captivating cover letter that showcases your best professional qualifications.

In this guide, we will teach you 5 easy steps for writing a legal cover letter. Keep reading to learn all about how to:

  • Give your legal cover letter visual appeal with a header & headline
  • Tailor the content & greeting of your legal cover letter for specific jobs
  • Write a compelling introduction to your legal cover letter
  • Show off your top skills & accomplishments as a legal professional
  • Conclude your legal cover letter with an effective closing statement

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1. Give your legal cover letter visual appeal with a header & headline

Unlike a resume, a cover letter is not separated into several succinct sections that give the document a sense of visual flow. As such, to give your cover letter visual appeal and avoid making it look like one big block of text, you need a well-formatted header and headline.

Your cover letter header is the first element you will create and should include all the necessary identifying and contact information about yourself and the employer.

This includes:

  • Your name and professional title
  • Your professional contact information
  • The name & department of the company you are applying to
  • The address of the company

Here is an example of a well-formatted header on a legal cover letter

Jane Doe, Attorney & Legal Professional
(123) 456-7890 | janedoe@email.com | linkedin.com/in/jane-doe

To: Maxwell Law Firm
Attorney’s Department
1234 Street Address
Boone, NC 28607

Once you have created a cover letter header that introduces you to the employer, your next step is to write a persuasive headline that hooks the employer’s attention.

To write your headline, make sure to include:

  • A keyword that is relevant to the position, such as the position title
  • An attention-grabbing number or trigger word
  • A powerful adjective or verb that shows your professional intentions
  • A promise statement that indicates to the employer this letter is exclusively written for them

Here is an example of a well-written legal headline

The 3 Pillars of My Legal Ethics Philosophy & How They Can Benefit Your Law Firm

Trigger Word/Number: 3 Pillars
Keyword: Legal Ethics Philosophy
Adjective/Verb: Benefit
Promise: Your Law Firm

2. Tailor the content & greeting of your legal cover letter for specific jobs

In your cover letter headline, you indicate to the employer that the letter is written specifically for them.

To follow through on this promise, you must tailor the content and greeting of your cover letter to be as relevant as possible to the exact job you are applying for. This tailoring process requires you to thoroughly research the company beforehand, searching for key details like:

  • What the company’s official code of legal ethics is
  • What specialized field of law the company works in
  • Who at the company is responsible for reviewing applications

This last detail helps you to create a personalized greeting that addresses the specific person by name. With this type of greeting, you immediately reveal that you have taken the time to tailor the letter.

Here are 3 examples of personalized cover letter greetings

  • Dear Mr. John Smith,
  • Dear Head Attorney John Smith,
  • Dear Mr. John Smith & the Legal Team,

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3. Write a compelling introduction to your legal cover letter

The first formal paragraph that you will write on your legal cover letter is your introduction. In this introduction, it is crucial to keep the employer interested and encourage them to continue reading.

To write a compelling legal introduction, include:

  • A concise summary of your professional history and specializations
  • A brief statement on why you feel you are a good fit for this position
  • A mutual acquaintance (when possible)

Pro Tip: The inclusion of a mutual acquaintance can be majorly helpful by immediately establishing rapport with the employer. To build your professional network and gain mutual acquaintances, use a professional platform like LinkedIn to connect to relevant employees and associates.

Here is an example of a strong introduction from a legal cover letter

Dear Head Attorney John Smith,

I am a legal professional with more than 7 years of experience as a law clerk and administrative assistant. As an award-winning legal professional, I am certain I can provide your team with the support needed to thrive. My mentor, Mrs. Molly Jackson, is one of your firm’s major legal associates and strongly recommended I apply for this position.

4. Show off your top skills in your legal cover letter

After you have completed your introduction, you will now begin writing the body paragraphs of your legal cover letter.

A strong cover letter will typically contain between 2 to 4 body paragraphs that offer key insights into your best skills and accomplishments in the legal field. As you write these paragraphs, try to offer detailed answers to questions such as:

  • What excites you about working at this company?
  • What specific and relevant skills do you have that qualify you for the position
  • What relevant accomplishments make you stand out as an applicant?
  • What quantifiable information can you include (data, statistics, etc.) to help prove your achievements and showcase your professional value?

Here are 6 examples of legal skills to describe in a cover letter

  • Knowledge of local, state, and federal regulation
  • Providing legal counsel
  • Developing legal strategies
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Knowledge of court conduct and procedures
  • Excellent problem-solving

Here is an example of how to describe an accomplishment in a legal cover letter

As a legal professional and counselor at [Former Employer], one of my main responsibilities was facilitating communication between the law firm and the city court. By installing a new digital recordkeeping system, I was able to improve the efficiency of external communication by 35%, as well as reduce miscommunications and recordkeeping errors by 60%.

5. Conclude your legal cover letter with an effective closing statement

To finish off your legal cover letter strong, you need a well-written closing statement that includes:

  • Clear information on how and when to contact you
  • A statement on when you plan to follow up
  • A formal sign-off

Here is an example of an effective closing statement from a legal cover letter

As the newest member of your legal team, I will help to optimize your workflows and provide your firm’s attorneys with the critical support they nee. I am eager to speak with you and am available any weekday between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If I have not heard back from you by next Friday, I intend to follow up via phone call that afternoon.

Warm Regards,

[Applicant Name]

Published on Aug. 8, 2022

Julia is a professional writer, translator and graphic designer. She holds degrees in translation and interpretation, and has international work experience from a number of different countries in Europe as well as China and Panama. Julia formerly taught academic writing and as a graphic designer contributed to outlets such as The Business of Business. She has a passion for lifelong learning and good coffee.

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