How to write a job-winning legal cover letter
In the diverse field of law, legal professionals assume various roles, from attorneys to law clerks. Crafting a compelling cover letter is essential to secure your dream job in the legal industry, highlighting your professional qualifications and strengths.
Let's embark on this journey together and create a winning letter that speaks volumes about your legal expertise.
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
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.
- 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's an example of a well-formatted header on a legal cover letter
Jane Doe, Attorney & Legal Professional
(123) 456-7890 | email@example.com | linkedin.com/in/jane-doe
To: Maxwell Law Firm
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's 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
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,
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's 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
During my time as a legal counsel at XYZ Law Firm, I successfully represented clients in several high-profile cases, resulting in favorable outcomes and settlements. One notable accomplishment was securing a significant settlement in a complex commercial litigation case, saving our client over $2 million in potential damages.
My ability to strategize, negotiate, and advocate effectively for my clients played a crucial role in achieving this result. Additionally, I was commended by senior partners for my exceptional legal research skills and attention to detail, contributing to the firm's reputation for delivering exceptional legal services.
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's 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.