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Cover Letters

For the majority of legal jobs, your cover letter is still an integral part of your application. Learn to master the process of creating an effective cover letter - don't dread it, spend hours with writer's block, or worse, put it off because the Career Development Office can help! Remember, cover letters give you control over your message by allowing you to:

  • demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the position and the employer
  • introduce your resume (but not just re-state it!)
  • show off your excellent writing and persuasion skills (think of it as your first writing sample – it matters!)
  • tie everything together​ and possibly address any concerns with your application

Scroll down to hear advice from employers and also find samples you can review. You can also find more help online with Cover Letter Tips and Samples.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Like your resume, your cover letter should be concise, error-free, well-organized, and easy to read.  Your cover letter should not simply restate the resume, but rather should explain why your experience can help the employer – talk more about you can do for them as opposed to how this job can help you.  (How? Highlight direct experience or transferrable skills from other experiences.)  Always try to find a person to address your letter to rather than “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.”  (How?  Search Symplicity, the employer website, ask CDO, or even make a phone call to a receptionist or human resources staff to try to identify the correct person – it will be worth your time.)  

Formatting Tips: Your cover letters should be one page in length, standard font no smaller than 11 point with margins between .7 and 1.0.  Your heading should match your resume.  Be sure to proofread carefully and not just use online grammar and spelling tools.

How to Fit on One Page? Be efficient in your word choice by avoiding repetitive, empty words and also eliminating passive voice – not only does it read awkwardly but it often takes up more space.​

Best Advice? Show your interest in this job with this employer. Do not simply apply blindly to multiple jobs; instead, personalize each cover letter to demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm.  Employers can pick up on whether you are interested in them or not all from your cover letter so do your employer research and make it count.

​Cover Letter Advice

We asked employers to share their advice on cover letters.  You can find all of the excellent tips at Advice from the Experts, but below are a few highlights.


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