Best Cover Letter Format for a Legal Resume
We’re often asked by law students, law graduates and experienced lawyers, what the best cover letter format is for a legal resume. It seems that writing a cover letter is perhaps more challenging than writing a legal resume. Well, don’t stress, because in this guide we’re going to give you some tips on how to write a great legal cover letter and what the best cover letter format is to accompany your legal resume so your skills and experience really shine through.
What is the best cover letter format for a legal resume?
Essentially, a great legal cover letter should look very similar to a legally drafted letter. Ideally from a style point of view, it should be structured as a legal letter with black text on a white page.
If you need a hand getting started writing a legal cover letter, we have a Free Legal Cover Letter Template at the bottom of this article!
What Should the Format of a Legal Cover Letter Look Like?
Your legal cover letter format should follow this structure:
1. Your Contact Details: On the top right of the page.
2. Date and Law Firm Details: On the top left of the page under the level of your contact details.
3. Addressee/Contact for job application: Under the law firm details – who are you addressing the legal cover letter to? It’s always preferable to use Dear “Name”, if you don’t know the contact name, you can use Dear Sir/Madam.
4. Regarding line: Directly under the addressee, you would have a bold line that says:
RE: Name of Position Advertised
5. Cover Letter Introduction: Start with a brief introduction of yourself and include your expected admission date (if a law student or law graduate), if you’re an admitted lawyer, state your admission date or actual years of post-admission experience.
6. Cover Letter Body (start): Start with a few sentences about your soft-skills, what do you bring to the law firm? Soft skills are skills that are personal attributes or personality traits.
An example of soft skills: Strong work ethic, great listening/communication skills, empathetic, social, positivity, time management, critical thinking, etc. Unlike hard skills, soft skills are hard to quantify, so make sure you are descriptive when describing your soft skills.
Related Article: Professional Legal Resume Writing Guide.
Related Article: How to Write a Law Student Resume with No Legal Experience.
7. Cover Letter Body (mid) – Hard Skills: After you have mentioned your soft skills, list a few sentences about your hard skills. Hard skills are technical skills or skills you have learnt that are related to law. Make these relevant to the skills that are required in the job advertisement. Here you can discuss your current position and what you have learnt that makes you suitable for the job you’re applying to.
An example of hard skills: drafting skills, understanding of legal frameworks/legislation, administrative skills, various legal skills related to your practice area.
8. Cover Letter Body (mid) – Example Matters: After you have listed your hard skills that are relevant to the job that you are applying to, demonstrate both your soft skills and hard skills by listing some example matters. If possible, try to list example matters that may be similar to the job you are applying to. Who are the types of clients you’ve worked with, what industries, what values, what laws or problems were in issue, what was the outcome? Make sure not to list any confidential information.
9. Cover Letter Body (end) – Transferable Skills: If you are unable to demonstrate that you have the exact experience that the job requires, bolster your application by listing your transferable skills. What skills have you learnt from other professional experience or other areas of your life that will assist you in being able to facilitate the responsibilities or duties of the job you’re applying to? For example, if you are applying to a legal assistant role, but you are a law student with limited experience, you may have administration experience or time-management skills/organisational skills from other areas.
10. Conclusion: End your cover letter by inviting the reader to review your resume and ensure you state an actionable statement inviting them to talk with you.
“I am confident that with my skills and experience, I will be highly effective within the advertised position and will become a valuable and contributing member of the team. I welcome you to review my skills and experience noted in my resume (attached).
If you have any questions regarding my application or if you would like further clarification about any of my professional experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I look forward to discussing my application and experience in more detail with you in person.
Your Phone Number”
After reading this guide, we hope it’s a little less daunting for you to be able to write a really effective legal cover letter and understand a little more about what the best cover letter format is for a legal resume. If you follow this format you will demonstrate the skills and experience necessary to really highlight to a potential employer that you are a great candidate for the advertised role.
We also hope that after reading this cover letter guide, you can see why it’s impossible to use the same cover letter for each different job you are applying to. Your legal cover letter needs to be tailored and highly relevant to each job that you are applying to, this will ensure it really fulfils its intended purpose which is to highlight your relevance and why you are the perfect candidate for the position who should be shortlisted and invited for an interview.