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Man on a job interview; image courtesy of Amtec Staffing, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Man on a job interview; image courtesy of Amtec Staffing, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

There are so many legal job-seekers out there who overlook the importance of a well-written cover letter. Whereas a resume is designed to inform a legal organization of your skills and past experiences, a cover letter is an effective tool that details what you’re like as a person and what you can bring to their company, an important aspect to consider.

Today, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about writing the perfect cover letter for your next legal job application and all the mistakes that you need to avoid.

 Not Attaching a Cover Letter at All

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your legal job application is not attaching a cover letter at all. If you’re applying by email, you can include your cover letter in the body of the email itself. This is far better than applying for a job with the body content that reads something like “See my resume attached”.

Not Following Instructions

In your cover letter, you may be asked by the hiring company to include certain bits of information that they need to process your application. For example, you may need to include your current or preferable pay grade, a writing sample or some enclosed documents that they need.

“If this is the case, failure to include these documents alongside your cover letter can render your application void by default, since the employer won’t go out of their way to ask you if they have already asked you once,” explains Sarah Harper, a cover letter editor for Paper Fellows.

Sending a Generic Letter

The chances are that you’ll be applying for several law-based jobs at the same time and it can be easy to fall into the trap of writing one cover letter to send to every company. However, in the process of writing a letter that’s suitable for all law firms, this ends up becoming very generic.

Wooden pen and letter; image via Pxhere, CC0.
Wooden pen and letter; image via Pxhere, CC0.

A generic cover letter is something that a recruiter is going to spot a mile away, so it’s important that you write, or at least edit, a cover letter for every job to which you apply.

Sending a Cover Letter Full of Errors

When it comes to legal jobs, an eye for detail is an essential attribute that you must prove that you have. If you’re sending a cover letter that you haven’t read through and it’s full of spelling mistakes and other writing errors, you’ll be harming your chances of securing the job. Here are some tools that can help you:

Another Copy of Your Resume

One of easiest traps to fall into is simply rewriting your resume in your cover letter, thinking that you’re just adding extra details. However, this will simply result in a failed application. When it comes to cover letters, the purpose of the document is to elaborate on the points in your resume that are relevant to the job role that you’re applying for.

“For example, if your employer is looking for a criminal attorney with several years’ experience, you might want to say in your cover letter what experience you have that is closest to this role and why that experience would make you suitable for the role that they are advertising,” shares Matthew Thompson, an HR manager for Ox Essays.

Making Things Complicated

One of the biggest problems you’ll need to overcome is that fact that you are not the only person applying for this job, so you’ll want to make sure that your cover letter is easy to digest and gives the reader the best experience possible.

This means not including sentences like “get in touch with me for my salary history” or “can you forward more information on this” as this will simply put the employer off asking you back. Give them everything they need and leave it at that.

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