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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

Office of Career & Professional Development

Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington

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Cover Letters

  • Purpose

  • Paragraph by Paragraph guide

  • Formatting

  • Tips and Common Blunders

Purpose l.jpg

  • Serves as an introduction

  • Highlights desired skills

  • Shows your enthusiasm & interest in the org and geographic location

  • Demonstrates your writing skills

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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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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  • 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

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Formatting - Spacing

  • Your return address block

  • 1 Space

  • Date

  • 1 Space

  • Employer address block

  • 1 Space

  • Dear Mr./Ms. Smith:

  • 1 Space

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Formatting – Spacing (cont)

  • Body of letter with 1 space between paragraphs

  • 1 space

  • “Sincerely,”

  • 4 Spaces

  • Your Name

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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

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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!

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Final Thoughts

  • Read Your letters out loud.

  • Don’t copy Templates.

  • Questions?