8 Cover Letter Tips and a Sample Cover Letter For Your Law Firm Internship
The cover letter is a small email you write while applying to a law firm. It is really your pitch which says “Take me as an intern” Draft it carefully and do note the following points.
1. The body of the email should itself contain the cover letter. Don’t attach a 300 word cover letter because it won’t be opened in ten cases out of nine. Ten out of nine? It might seem an exaggeration or a misprint but it is none.
Instead of sending your cover letter as an attachment, write it in the body of the email itself.
2. Subject of the email which is the subject of your cover letter should be detailed and educated, a bit like this: Internship Application: 1st May- 30th June: Mumbai Office.
These are the three things (subject + duration + location) should make the subject of your internship cover letter; nothing more and nothing less.
3. Focus and customise. Don’t send an email to dozens of law firms at one go. Identify 5-6 law firms which interest you and send applications tailor-made for them.
For example if you are applying to an IP boutique law firm, include a section in your CV (right at the top, mind you) which reads ‘Achievements in the field of IP’. Also in your cover letter mention these achievements precisely.
4. Art of the start. Start with naming the person you want this to read; the recruitment head, the managing partner or the internship coordinator. Do your research.
Assuming the name of the person is Ram Kumar and the email id for internships is email@example.com and you start with “Respected Mr. Ram Kumar” you catch his attention.
If you begin with Respected Sir/Madam you don’t get anyone’s attention.
5. Write English. Please don’t show of your legal writing skills here. Write simple, plain, correct, readable English. Reserve legalese for later, when you actually get the internship.
Do a spelling and grammar check on Word on your cover letter.
6. Attach your CV. If you are not careful with this little thing (of attaching files), the law firm will be unwilling to hand you bigger things like internship.
7. Ask. Ask if you should be sending your writing samples or if the firm will want to take a telephonic interview. Leave your contact number in the footer.
8. A little quote. Emails can have a quote at the end. If it relates to law, is a smart one and is something you identify with, you can include it in every email you send including the internship application. This might be a little controversial but it can tell the recruiter a lot about you.
It adds a human touch and might bring a smile on the recruiters face. A smiling man/woman is a person more likely to give you the internship. So choose the quote carefully.
Here is a sample cover letter for a law firm internship:
Dear Mr. Ram Kumar
This section is: Art of start:Who you are, what you do and where are you going.
I am Rahul Sharma, a 4th year law student from Gujarat National Law University (GNLU), Gandhinagar and am very keen to intern at ABC Law Offices (Delhi) from 1st May- 30th June.
This is called: Why Me. The Best Things I Have Done. Why Your Firm Alone is the Perfect Professional Habitat For Me.
I have previously interned at XYZ’s Delhi office where I was a part of the Capital Markets team. During my internship under Mr. Mukul Romani, senior counsel, Supreme Court of India I learnt the basics of legal drafting under his tutelage. I have also completed the Mergers and Acquisitions course offered by the Bombay Stock Exchange. Moreover, I was a part of the ANLU team (oralist) which won the NUKS corporate law moot competition in 2010.
I am sure interning at a prestigious law firm like SRGR Law Offices will help me further improve upon my skills. Given my prior experience and interest in corporate law I am sure that Ill be able to contribute immensely towards your practice. I have learnt from LegallyIndia.com about your firm’s growth plans and it will be exciting to be a part of a young and growing team of lawyers.
The Section: I am humble, eager and good.
I am attaching my CV for your kind perusal and will be grateful if I am given an opportunity to intern at your firm. Please let me know if you require anything else as a part of the internship application. Thank you for your time and consideration.
4th year student, BA.LLB (Hons) course
Contact: 999999999 (M)
P.S. Just a bonus for you: I have found a nice resource with cover letter info – academichelp.net with a useful “how to write” guide and a lot of free samples [Sponsored].
I am the Admin of Lawctopus. I am for law students, of law students and by law students. I am Torts and Contracts and moots and internships. I am your boyfriend! And your girlfriend too! Mentor. Friend. Junior. Senior. I am the footnote in your research paper. Foreword in your life. The jugaad for your internship. The side gig which earns you bucks. I am Maggi. Pocket money too.
Many solicitors’ firms in the UK will ask you to apply for a training contract with a covering letter. Some will want you to upload this as part of an online application form (such as Slaughter and May, Jones Day, White & Case, Sullivan & Cromwell ), while others – usually smaller, high street law firms – will want you to send the letter alongside a CV (see our law CV example here).
How to write a law cover letter tip #1: use the letter to explain why you want to be a solicitor at that particular law firm
A covering letter is a golden opportunity to explain your motivations for becoming a lawyer and for applying to that specific firm. ‘My advice is to use the cover letter to introduce yourself and to explain why you are applying to that firm,' says Janine Arnold, senior manager – trainee recruitment at Slaughter and May. ‘Be sure to include any additional information that you feel is relevant to your application.’
If you’re uploading a covering letter as part of a larger application form you should avoid repeating examples you’ve used to answer questions on the form. Give as broad a picture of your skills and experience as possible and only repeat something if you think it is particularly significant to that law firm. Your covering letter is an introduction to get the recruiter’s attention – a sample of your potential, if you like – not your overall application.
‘A well-written, succinct, persuasive covering letter crafted by an aspiring trainee solicitor who has really thought about the firm stands out,’ says Nichola Rowe, director of legal human resources at Cleary Gottlieb. ‘Ask yourself: what sets this firm apart from other law firms and how do my individual skills and experiences marry with that firm?’.
How to write a law cover letter tip #2: how long should it be?
A covering letter should be a maximum of one page, with a font size of 11 or 12. Slaughter and May’s Janine Arnold agrees: ‘A lengthy covering letter is not necessary; aim for it to be no longer than one side of A4.'
How to write a law cover letter tip #3: the format law firms like
The best law cover letter examples have a clear structure, such as:
1. The introduction to your cover letter
Introduce yourself, explain what stage you are at in your degree course (including the university you’re attending), state that you are applying for a training contract and where you read about the law firm. This should only be a sentence or two.
2. A paragraph on why you want to work at that law firm
The second paragraph should cover why you want to be a solicitor and why you want to work for that law firm in particular. Highlight any experiences you’ve had that have convinced you that you want to be a solicitor, such as vacation schemes, open days or insight days. You can even mention mini-pupillages – it will impress graduate recruiters if you’ve put the effort into comparing the two sides of the legal profession, as long as you have good reasons for picking a career as a solicitor (this could come up at interview).
Make it clear why you want to work in the particular area of law that the firm focuses on. For example, if it’s a commercial firm you’ll want to draw on any work experience you’ve had at other commercial firms. Show off your research about the firm by explaining your interest in their main legal practice areas – don’t just say ‘I am interested in shipping law’, for example, but provide evidence of that interest.
You might also want to mention the firm’s training structure. Some firms will have compulsory seats, in which case you’ll need to show an interest in those areas. If you’ve chosen a firm that doesn’t have compulsory seats, or has no seat structure at all (such as Jones Day for example), then you could explain why this appeals to you above a more defined training contract structure.
3. A paragraph highlighting why you're a good fit for the law firm
Next, you need to pitch yourself to the recruiter. Make it clear that you are suited to a career as a solicitor: highlight achievements that show you have the competencies the firm has asked for. If the firm hasn’t specified exactly what it's looking for, see our article here on the skills most legal recruiters want from applicants. Don’t just say ‘I have good communication skills’ – you need to mention an achievement that hinged on your use of those skills.
4. The ending to your law covering letter
Close by referring the recruiter to your CV or application and stating your availability for interview(s) or assessment centre(s).
How to write a law cover letter tip #4: explain any extenuating circumstances
'Covering letters should also explain any mitigating circumstances relating to exam results and to address any questions that you may reasonably expect to arise from your application, such as any gaps in your CV,’ explains Janine.
How to write a law cover letter tip #5: proofread your cover letter before you hit ‘send’
Once you’ve put your covering letter together, don’t be tempted to rush it off. Ask friends, family and your university careers adviser to check it. ‘There is no good excuse for spelling errors, especially when you’re applying for a job that requires scrupulous attention to detail,’ points out a legal recruitment advisor at Ince & Co. ‘The number of applications we receive that contain errors is surprising. Your application is all we’ve got to go on, so you owe it to yourself to ensure it’s not let down by something so easily avoidable.’
Remember that law firms will be judging your ability to communicate professionally with clients on the professionalism of your covering letter – you’re making a pitch, just like you would do as a practising lawyer.
Legal recruiters at major law firms read through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications from aspiring trainee solicitors each year and will only spend a minute or so reading your covering letter. Some recruiters say that they make their decision paragraph by paragraph – if you haven't impressed upon them that you would be a good fit for their firm halfway through the cover letter, they might not even read the rest. Your covering letter creates a powerful first impression, so make it easy for the recruiter to see that you have strong potential as a solicitor by following the tips above.
In other news: Massive changes to the way solicitors qualify are on the horizon. Do you know how they will affect you? Find out here.