In the modern legal market, you have to have a competitive edge, this means you need to know how to write the perfect law cover letter. This article covers the very basics of writing a cover letter every employer would dream of receiving.
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When writing a piece of text like a training contract cover letter, for example, you need to answer these three questions:
Think of this question as the theme for the opening paragraph of your law cover letter: in it, you will need to set out who you are, the role you are applying for, a very brief summary of your experience and a concise line or two on why these experiences have directed you to this field. It should be clear to the reader the kind of lawyer you will be throughout.
Put in your own unique style, as long as it is clear why this area, that is enough.
The real question this is asking is what do you know about us and about our culture? So, this is a two-pronged question that enables you to show off research skills, commercial awareness and to lead into how you would fit into the company.
There are business and personal reasons for employers’ interest in this: on the business side, the less time spent in training, the more you can earn and they are looking for long-term rainmakers. On the personal side, they want to know if you will get along with other members of staff and be happy with the work-life balance.
This information can be attained in many ways: you might have been a long-term reader of the company blog or attended insight days or talks. Better yet, you might have interned there or worked with associates through an affiliated company. Whatever the details, you need to show an interest in the company and the people via your law cover letter.
If you have played your cards right and been selling your motivations and understanding of the company effectively so far, odds are you have done a great job of leading up to this question. In the mind of the reader, you may already be a good fit.
At this stage, you need to sell the value you bring to the company. Maybe you have noticed they are struggling with GDPR and need an expert, and it just so happens that besides commercial law you also have specialist knowledge of computing and data security acquired in your work/study which will be of great assistance.
You need a few USPs here, as well as the ability to match up your skills to the role.
Partners, recruiters and QCs at chambers all agree this is a good starting point for any good cover letter.
Saying a lot without selling yourself to the employer is one of the main pitfalls when writing a law cover letter. Make sure you make it clear what you can contribute to the firm – don’t simply rewrite your CV in long form.
The second most common is demonstrating ignorance of the company. This prevented promising candidates being offered jobs they were qualified for. Make sure you do plenty of research and that this is reflected in your cover letter.
Lastly, make sure your letter is written coherently and follows a clear structure. If you’re worried about grammar and spelling, ask someone to check it before you submit your application!
Words: Cameron Haden
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