Cover Letter Advice
The cover letter is a sample of your written work and should be brief (preferably one page), persuasive, well-reasoned, and grammatically perfect.
A good cover letter:
- Tells the employer who you are (e.g., a first-year student at YLS) and what you are seeking (e.g., a summer intern position);
- Shows that you know about the particular employer and the kind of work the employer does (i.e., civil or criminal work, direct client service, "impact" cases, antitrust litigation);
- Demonstrates your writing skills;
- Demonstrates your commitment to the work of that particular employer and converys that you have something to contribute;
- Shows that you and that employer are a good "fit;" and
- Tells the employer how to get in touch with you by email, telephone, and mail.
Determine to whom you should address the cover letter. If you are applying to law firms, address your letter to the recruiting director. For NALP member firms, use the NALP Directory to obtain contact information. (NALP also provides a useful mail merge feature for generating multiple letters). For other employers, you can refer to their websites, or contact the office to determine to whom your materials should be directed.
Although there are many ways to write a cover letter, the following format has worked well for students in the past.
- In the first paragraph of your cover letter, explain why you are sending your resume to the employer: “I am a first-year student at Yale Law School and am seeking a position with your organization for the summer 20xx.” If you are applying to public interest employers and are eligible for SPIF funding, you can mention that here.
- Use the second paragraph to explain your interest in the employer, including your interest in the employer’s geographic location, reputation, specialty area, or public service.
- In the third paragraph, stress why this employer should hire you. Elaborate on the qualifications that you possess that will make you an exceptional summer intern or attorney.
- The final paragraph should thank the employer for taking the time to review your application and tell them how to reach you. You may wish to state that you will contact the employer in a couple of weeks to follow-up and then actually do so. This is especially true with public interest employers who are often understaffed and will appreciate your extra effort.
Additional CDO Resources
Re: Unsolicited Resumes
Postby linquest » Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:53 am
I've done it successfully. But if it's one firm in particular that you're targeting, don't just send the package and leave it at that. Methods:
Cold-Call: Call the firm and ask if they would consider hiring someone for the summer. If they won't, then you don't need to waste your time anymore (though you should probably try to wrangle an informational interview to start networking for later). Ask specifically who you should address your cover letter to. Follow up phone call a week after they should have received it (mention this is in your cover letter).
Networking: Contact an alum from your school that works there. If there isn't one, try to meet one of the attorneys through a group function (Bar Association). Get an informational interview--do NOT ask for a job at this point, but do give them your resume for reference. Hopefully, you leave a good enough impression at the II that you're the first one they think of if they decide to hire, or that attorney might persuade the firm to create a job for you.