6 Things to Include in a Law Cover Letter for Work Experience
As the old adage goes “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
The same goes for your cover letter – it requires planning, and not regurgitation of your life experiences you feel would impress prospective employers.
Generally, your cover letter should be made up of the 3 C’s: Concise, Compartmentalized, Coherent. It is a piece crafted to convince your future employers of both your unique capabilities and suitability.
Here is a guide to planning your law cover letter for work experience from start to end.
Law Cover Letter Section 1: Briefly Introduce Yourself
Remember to introduce yourself first instead of diving into your skills, enthusiastic as you may be. Simple references to which year and which course you are taking in which university will do.
Also remember to indicate the reasons for your interest in the vacation scheme or work experience, such as to improve your legal skills, learn about the practicalities in the legal fraternity or the area of law you wish to specialise in.
Law Cover Letter Section 2: Detail Your Skills and How You Have Honed Them
Laying out your skills allows for scope and prevents verbosity. An example would be advocacy skills and you could mention mooting or public speaking competitions you have participated in.
Remember to take into account the skills that are relevant to the legal profession and to the firm. Some firms may have a client-centric vision so it will look good if you include skills such as interpersonal communication skills.
However, balance is key – do not be too self-deprecating or too arrogant. Assert your skills and take it as packaging your skills for that company.
Any successful vacation scheme/work experience application is a contract formed. So remember to provide “good consideration”.
Law Cover Letter Section 3: Areas of Contribution
Employers value individuals who are willing to serve. A vacation scheme or other work experience is also about contribution and learning from the ground.
It follows that your skills should be mentioned with a view to helping the organisation. Couching it in such an approach prevents you appearing boastful when you mention your skills.
Be clear and realistic as to how you can contribute. Bear in mind your status as a temporary staff, so things like “contributing to the big picture” are out of the question. Employers value grounded individuals who set realistic goals.
Examples include providing administrative and legal research assistance to the employer and assisting in cases.
Law Cover Letter Section 4: Discuss the Unique Traits of the Employer
Research is key to ensuring your cover letter does not resemble a carbon copy of the company’s vision or ethos, both of which are found on their website.
Look for practise trainees’ statements of commendation or choose an area of law the company specialises in and find out why they outperform other competitors. Is it their approach or unique values?
Statistics and quotes are good, but make sure they are not easily found on Google. Once again, effort is the discerning factor.
Law Cover Letter Section 5: What You Hope to Learn from Your Work Experience
Be clear on your work experience objectives.
Remember, regardless of which year of study you are in, a vacation scheme or work experience will lead to your career destination. Therefore, there is no harm in indicating that your application is to ascertain if the company is a suitable fit for your work ethics and expectations.
While the firm has every right to choose whether you are retained, you retain the right to evaluate the company as well.
Of course, remember the words you choose affects your tone. For instance “I will” and “I would” has a marked difference in tone. Use modal verbs wisely too. Never hedge excessively when mentioning your skills but try to avoid “I am skilled in advocacy”. For obvious reasons.
Law Cover Letter Section 6: Thank them for reading and leave contact details
Remember to thank them for reading and leave your contact details. It goes beyond courtesy, but also allows you to check if your email address is appropriate. If you realise your email address sounds rude or mildly inappropriate, then it probably is. Create one for professional purposes.
Remember to state when you are available and, if applicable, which area of law you hope to specialise in. This allows them to filter applicants based on interest and shows you have thought through career specialisation and have come to a conclusion.
In a nutshell, your cover letter should not be beyond a page or 700 words. Remember you are but one of many other applicants, so your points have to be concise.
Know how to market your potential and establish clearly why you think you suit the law firm. Get a few friends to proofread or even role-play as prospective employers and see if they are convinced by your cover letter. Keep calm and draft on.
All the best!
Published: 11/01/18 Author: Edwin Teong Ying Keat
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