Need to write a law student cover letter? We’ve got you covered! Below we discuss the dos and don’ts of writing a cover letter for law school.
A cover letter is often an overlooked aspect of any application, but it is the first thing potential employers read. If your cover letter doesn’t impress the reader, your entire application risks being passed over.
If you are unsure of how to write a strong law student cover letter, look no further. We’ll give outline key tips, review examples of cover letters and answer some frequently asked questions. Let’s get started!
A law student cover letter is a document a law student submits with their resume to potential employers for internships or employment opportunities within their field of study.
It serves as a personalized introduction and persuasive pitch to potential employers. This letter connects the applicant's qualifications and experiences listed in their resume to the specific position they're applying for, highlighting their suitability for the role.
It concludes with a call to action, expressing interest for an interview. Moreover, a law student cover letter is a tool for law students to demonstrate their qualifications and enthusiasm aiming to secure an interview and the desired role.
Cover letters are a key part of any job application, whether you are in law school or not. It is important to include a cover letter unless specified otherwise, especially if you’re applying to multiple law schools. They allow you to demonstrate professionalism and show off your communication and writing skills.
Cover letters are important for law students; they allow you to discuss important qualifications and experiences that aren’t always included within your resume, such as extracurricular activities. Information you can (and should) include in your cover letter include:
A cover letter for law students is a great opportunity to share your accomplishments and skills outside of your work experience.
Your cover letter is the first thing an employer will read, so be positive and enthusiastic! While your resume outlines your relevant work experience and education, it doesn’t show off your personality. A cover letter can be a great opportunity to humanize yourself to the employer and make them want you to be a part of their team.
As a law student, what should you include in your cover letter? Berkeley Law outlines the content you should include in your cover letter:
While these are just suggestions to help you get started and structure your cover letter, you should try to follow this format as closely as you can.
It is tempting to highlight all of your experiences, but that is not the purpose of a cover letter. Cover letters should be concise and to the point. You should only mention experiences that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
When deciding which experiences to include, focus on those that you have completed recently. You only have a few short paragraphs to sell yourself to employers, so be sure to avoid accomplishments from over three years ago.
You also want to avoid being negative, doubtful, or coming across as insecure in your cover letter.
Understanding the structure of a cover letter for a law student is essential to create an impressive and effective application for legal internships or job opportunities. Here are some easy to follow tips to help you format your cover letter.
Prior to writing the main sections of your cover letter, review and update your personal information. Make it easily accessible by positioning your contact details in the header section at the top of the letter.
This includes your full name, email address, phone number, city, state, and date. This ensures the hiring manager can quickly locate your information for interview scheduling.
Begin your letter with a professional and personalized greeting by addressing the hiring manager by name, incorporating their appropriate title (e.g., Mr. or Ms.). If you don't have their name, conduct online research, as law firms often provide employee information on their websites.
In cases where you can't find a name, you can use the standard "Dear Hiring Manager" as your greeting.
When crafting your cover letter, remember to keep it concise, fitting all content onto a single page. Structure it with an introductory paragraph, followed by one to three skill-highlighting paragraphs, and wrap it up with a concluding paragraph. This format ensures that your message is clear and impactful while respecting the reader's time.
Ensure you follow the standard margins, typically one inch on all sides. If you opt for smaller margins, such as around 0.7 inches, make sure to maintain consistency across all sides of the page.
Additionally, align all paragraphs to the left for a clean and conventional presentation, although some choose to use an indentation for the first line of each paragraph, although this is less common in modern formatting.
Conclude your cover letter with a professional and balanced tone. It shows your professionalism, which law firms often value in candidates. Consider sign-offs like "Regards," "Sincerely," or "Best Regards." Allow some space after this closing for your name.
We have some law student cover letter examples below to give you an idea of tone, style, and length.
Here is an example of a strong cover letter for a first-year law student at Yale University:
Dear [Employer’s Name]:
I am a first-year student at Yale Law School seeking a position with Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle for Summer 20XX. I am a native New Yorker and hope to work in New York City this coming summer.
I am interested in your firm because of its international law practice generally and, more particularly, because of your firm’s presence in France and numerous French clients. Your Paris office’s focus in the areas of international commercial arbitration, as well as corporate, banking, and finance work, aligns with my long-term interests in a practice serving international corporations. Having lived and studied in Paris for one year during college and having served as a teaching assistant for French language and literature courses, I am fluent in French and knowledgeable about French culture. My undergraduate majors in International Relations and in Economics provided me with an understanding of many of the complex issues facing businesses with the increase in globalization. I plan to further my understanding of these issues as a member of the Yale Journal of International Law.
To your firm I will bring proven legal research, writing, and analytical skills that will support your firm and its clients. During my undergraduate education, I served as a member of the University Judiciary Committee, and as a student judge I heard cases, interpreted university codes, and wrote rulings summarizing the Committee’s conclusions. I also drafted a thesis in which I drew from archived primary sources and first-person interviews to write a fifty-page document over the course of a year. Here at Yale, through our first-year writing course this fall, I have streamlined my skills and adapted them to the legal environment. Next semester, I will enroll in YLS’s Advanced Legal Writing course to deepen my understanding and experience.
Attached please find my resume. If you would like me to provide you with additional materials, I would be more than happy to do so. I am confident that my background and skills will enable me to make a positive contribution to your clients. Thank you for considering my candidacy. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
This is a successful cover letter because the individual outlines specific academic skills and experience that makes them a qualified candidate. Remember, being specific is key to writing a strong cover letter.
Employers want to read about a couple of examples rather than a general (and usually vague) overview of all your qualifications and experiences.
For first year law students, you can highlight where you completed your undergrad and your major as you will have most likely just completed this degree. You can also include why you are interested in pursuing a law career.
For those who are in their second year of law school, here is an example of a good cover letter:
Dear [Employer’s Name]:
I am a second-year student at Yale Law School seeking employment with the Food Research and Action Center for the summer. If funding is not available for summer interns, Yale could fund my summer employment.
FRAC’s mandate to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States is compelling to me. I understand that through a combination of research, advocacy, program monitoring, training, collaboration, and public-information campaigns you seek to address the root causes of hunger. As a former nurse who has worked on issues of nutrition and health policy, I am very interested in the work of the Center in the areas of health law and nutrition in maternal and child health. I would greatly value the opportunity to work with and learn from your attorneys, policy analysts, and advocates.
I have practical work experience in these fields that would be of service to you and your clients. My work as an assistant ombudsperson at a major hospital helped me to understand the importance of nutrition for health and the need for advocacy on behalf of those who cannot effectively advocate for themselves. My experience with the National Health Law program exposed me to the legislative and policy side of health law and the value of legal training in public service. After my first year of law school, I was able to combine my nursing degree and health care experience with my new legal research and writing skills at the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. This experience has strengthened my interest in grassroots organizing and advocacy of nutrition issues for low income Americans.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you or someone in your office about a position as a summer intern at the Center. I will call your office in the next few weeks to see whether it might be possible to arrange an interview and look forward to speaking with you then.
I have enclosed my resume, law school transcript, a writing sample, and a reference list. Should you require additional application materials, please let me know, and I will forward them to you immediately.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
Like the first example, this cover letter works so well because it clearly outlines and describes the specific experience of the candidate. As a second year law student, the individual speaks about how their experience relates to their areas of law the student is interested in pursuing, demonstrating that the position the candidate is applying for will help them achieve their career goals.
These examples are a good starting point to structure your own letter off of, but remember to make your cover letter your own.
Here is a cover letter template for law students provided by the University of Notre Dame.
Your City, State Zip
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
Name of Contact Person
Title of Contact Person
Address City, State Zip
Dear Mr. (Ms.) last name of contact person:
First Paragraph: Tell why you are writing – name the position for which you are applying. If you have a personal referral or connection, mention it here. Identify your career goals and indicate why you are interested in working for this employer. If you have ties to or lived in the area, mention it. Specify your interests in the type of work the employer does. Describe what is particularly appealing to you about the employer.
Second Paragraph: Show how your background qualifies you for the position. Point out the experience and coursework you have that relates to the employer's field or type of work. Focus on what skills or experiences you would bring to the employer. Emphasize pertinent items on your resume and supplement with other details. Tie experience to tangible, transferable skills. Convince the employer that you would be an asset.
Third Paragraph: Restate your interest in working for the employer. Have an appropriate closing to pave the way for an interview. Indicate your willingness to interview personally by stating when you will be in the area or by offering to make yourself available at the employer's convenience. Thank the employer for his/her consideration.
(leave 4 blank lines for signature)
Your full typed name
There are many law school application mistakes to avoid. If you’re having trouble writing your cover letter, this help template will aid you in writing a stellar one!
Still have questions about writing a law student cover letter? We answer some of your frequently asked questions below.
Before you begin writing any cover letter, familiarize yourself with the job posting, the company/organization you are applying to, and use words and phrases found in the job posting.
This will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the specific job, and will also show off your attention to detail (a skill employers always look for). After you have written the cover letter, proofread and edit for grammar and spelling errors before you submit your application.
Your cover letter should include:
Highlight the school you’re attending, as law firms may prefer students from certain colleges.
Take your time when writing your cover letter; it takes quite a bit of work to craft an impactful one. However, a strong cover letter will maximize the chances of getting the job or internship you want, so it will be well worth it.
A cover letter should only be one page long and broken up into a few short paragraphs for ease of reading. Make sure that you follow typical business correspondence formatting.
Normally, people have addressed cover letters with Mr. or Mrs. [Last name]. However, this may not always be appropriate because you do not know how the individual would like to be addressed.
Nowadays, people typically address employers with a simple Dear [First and last name]. This is still a personal and respectful way to address someone, and avoids assuming someone’s gender identity and offending them. Yale Law School suggests addressing your cover letter to a specific individual rather than a vague ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam.’
A job posting may give you specific directions on how and who to address your letter to. For example, some job postings explicitly state to address the letter to Human Resources. Always read through the job ad and instructions thoroughly and follow what they ask for.
Yes you can use the same cover letter for multiple law schools, it’s an application requirement. However, you may only reuse parts of it. It’s important that you personalize every cover letter you write and tailor it to the school you’re sending it to.
Yes, you need multiple cover letters. You’ll need to personalize each cover letter you write. However you can reuse parts of your cover letter that are generic.
Writing a cover letter is not as easy as many people may think. You need to pay close attention to detail, flex your communication and writing skills, and professionally brag about your accomplishments and capabilities.
If you would like help for your resume, we also have tips on building a great resume to go along with your cover letter. Good luck!