Draft Your Cover Letter

Make sure it is addressed to the right firm and the right individual at the firm. BEWARE of mail merge and cutting and pasting!

Be concise. A cover letter should not generally be longer than one page.

Tone is very important. Avoid the following:

  • Arrogance: “I have always excelled in my academic studies as is evident from receiving….” [This should be evident from your résumé.]
  • Conclusions: “I have excellent interpersonal skills and am known for my ability to make people laugh.” [You may think so, but do others?]
  • Being “cute”: Do not differentiate yourself by coming up with a “gimmick.” For instance, a cover letter in the form of a factum is not persuasive.
  • Too much flattery about the firm: “Your firm is so wonderful … I would be honoured to work there….” [No one will believe you even if you are sincere.]

Aim for a professional tone. Do:

  • Outline what you are applying for.
  • Indicate what areas of law you think you may be interested in as this helps the firm set up your interview.
  • Emphasize strengths of your application, particularly if some aspects of your background need further explanation than your résumé provides. For instance, if you have maintained a significant work commitment while at law school, it may be easier to address this in a cover letter rather than in a résumé. It also can be used to explain “gaps” in your résumé that have occurred for personal reasons.
  • You can include your reasons for applying to the firm.
  • Consider how your cover letter relates to your résumé and transcripts. All these things are pieces of your application. They should complement one another.