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Cover Letters Office of Career & Professional Development Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington Cover Letters Purpose Paragraph by Paragraph guide Formatting Tips and Common Blunders Purpose Serves as an introduction Highlights desired skills

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cover letters
Cover Letters

Office of Career & Professional Development

Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington

cover letters2
Cover Letters
  • Purpose
  • Paragraph by Paragraph guide
  • Formatting
  • Tips and Common Blunders
  • Serves as an introduction
  • Highlights desired skills
  • Shows your enthusiasm & interest in the org and geographic location
  • Demonstrates your writing skills
paragraph 1 intro
Paragraph 1 – Intro
  • Why are you writing?
  • Where did you find this announcement or who guided you to this job?
  • Overview of qualifications
  • Entice them to read your resume and invite you to interview

As a first year law student at Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington I write to submit my materials for a 2009 summer clerkship with Jackson & Heller. I enjoyed the opportunity to job shadow Ms. Marjorie Johnson, an Indiana Law alumna who is an Associate in your firm this fall. My past work experience has empowered me with a high level of professionalism and I believe I can make a contribution to your firm as a summer clerk utilizing my skills in research and writing.

paragraph 2 about you
Paragraph 2 – About You
  • In what ways do you meet their qualification requirements?
  • What skills do you bring to the table?
  • What is your link to that geographic area?

As a permanent resident of Kentucky I plan to return to my home state to pursue my legal career after graduation. A summer clerkship with your firm would allow me to work in the Louisville legal community and synthesize what I am learning in the classroom in a practical setting.

paragraph 3 about them
Paragraph 3 – About Them
  • Why do you want to work for this organization/firm?
    • Articles
    • Web Site
    • Practice Areas or Clients
    • Referrals
    • Specific Cases – But be careful

After college I worked for two years as a Business Analyst at Humana in Louisville earning significant promotions each year based on positive evaluations by my superiors. I believe my accounting and finance background has provided me with transferable skills and practical experience that will be an asset to your firm. Although I don’t know definitively what practice area I want to pursue at this early stage in my academic program, I am interested in Mergers & Acquisitions, which I know is a specialty area for your firm.

paragraph 4 closing
Paragraph 4 - Closing
  • Indicate your desire for an interview and willingness to meet them.
  • Give them your phone number and e-mail address in case they want to contact you.
  • Thank them in advance

I plan to be in Louisville from December 20th through January 10th during my semester break and I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss the summer clerkship in more detail. I can be reached at or (812) 855-2345 and I thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing my materials.

  • One page
  • Same paper and font style as your resume
  • Sign in black ink
  • Unless you use a letterhead format, don’t include your name in your address block
formatting spacing
Formatting - Spacing
  • Your return address block
  • 1 Space
  • Date
  • 1 Space
  • Employer address block
  • 1 Space
  • Dear Mr./Ms. Smith:
  • 1 Space
formatting spacing cont
Formatting – Spacing (cont)
  • Body of letter with 1 space between paragraphs
  • 1 space
  • “Sincerely,”
  • 4 Spaces
  • Your Name
helpful hints
Helpful Hints
  • Send to a specific person – if possible
  • Use NALP Directory to identify Hiring Partner or Recruiting Coordinator
  • Avoid restating your resume
  • Give them a time frame that you will be in their area and available
common errors
Common Errors
  • Generic Cover Letters: “. . . and I want to work for a firm with the prestige and reputation of (enter firm name here).”
  • Telling them about your skills instead of demonstrating them
  • My name is…
  • The Informal E-mail
  • Failing to proofread
  • Too familiar – I would love to work in your firm!
final thoughts
Final Thoughts
  • Read Your letters out loud.
  • Don’t copy Templates.
  • Questions?