INTRODUCTION: HOW TO DRAFT A COVERING LETTER TO LAW FIRMS
A lot of law firms have their own online application form where they ask a series of questions and applicants are expected to answer them within a word limit. However, the covering letter and CV still remains important for a variety of different law firms, especially small to medium-sized ones. Having a good covering letter is important because it gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and convince the law firm to invite you for an interview
Just like a CV, there are no strict rules about what should and should not be included in a covering letter. However, employers will be used to seeing a particular style so you should try to follow industry-standard format where possible. So, how should you structure your covering letter and what should you include? Here are some thoughts:
Try to keep your covering letter to one page as this will stop you from writing too much and it will also show the law firm that you have the ability to convey information succinctly (a key skill required to be a lawyer).
Put your contact details at the top of the page and ensure that you have stated the name and address of the person you are writing to. If you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to, you should phone the HR Department to find out. When the firm receives the covering letter and CV from you and it has been addressed to the right person, it will show them that you have made the effort to go and find out who to apply to.
OPENING PARAGRAPH – WHY ARE YOU WRITING TO US?
Like any letter you send someone, you want to make sure that the reader knows exactly why you are writing to him or her. You should also put the job reference number of the position you are applying for or the name of the job title as a subject.
You should try to capture the reader’s attention as soon as possible and putting in something about what you are currently doing is a good way to do this. For example, “I currently work in the Legal Department of a pharmaceutical company and have a strong interest in medical law which is why I am applying to…”.
SECOND PARAGRAPH – WHY DO YOU WANT THIS JOB?
Thorough research is key to convincing the law firm that you really want the job. Is there anything which makes the firm special? The law firm’s website and legal directories such as The Legal 500 will be a particularly good resource for research.
One idea is to mention a case or transaction that the firm has worked on which you find particularly interesting. It is important to show the recruiters that you are interested in working for their firm in particular and you are not just sending out generic covering letters to lots of firms.
THIRD PARAGRAPH – WHY YOU?
This is a very important paragraph because it will enable you to showcase your skills by mentioning achievements or specific examples from your work experience.
Saying that “I am organised” doesn’t sound as powerful as saying “I developed my organisational skills when I worked on a contentious matter involving 23 jurisdictions and was tasked with collating the signatures for the settlement agreement.”
COVERING LETTERS: CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH
This will be the shortest paragraph and you just need to reiterate your desire to work for the firm and then mention that you look forward to hearing from the person you are writing to. You should end your covering letter with “Yours sincerely” if you know who you are writing to and “Yours faithfully” if you don’t.