Tips for Success
- Brevity is key. Treat your cover letter as a writing sample and keep it short, clear and concise. Keep the tone business-like and professional – avoid a sales pitch, legal jargon or any regurgitation of the firm's marketing materials.
- Stay organized. Present materials in a logical and user-friendly fashion. Your resumé should include only post-secondary education (don't list high school or your LSAT score). Information should be listed in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent first.
- Put your best food forward. Include on your resumé awards, accomplishments, publications, interests and any community involvement. These provide great conversation hooks and insights into your academic and non-academic achievements. However, honesty counts, so don't inflate experiences or use exaggerated job titles and descriptions.
- Mind the gap. Make sure to fill in any gaps in education or work experience and explain anything unique to your situation that might otherwise be confusing or unclear.
- Set yourself apart. Research the firm so you know what qualities are important and consider how those match your own profile. Emphasize any particular accomplishments or passion projects and highlight skills or strengths using examples from your experience.
- Personalize your letter. There's no one-size-fits-all, so tailor your letter to the firm. Specify what appeals to you and use it to emphasize any unique accomplishments or experiences. If you've met firm members at an event, firm tour or open house, mention this in your letter.
- Pay attention to details. Proofread carefully for spelling, grammar, mail merge issues and consistency. This cannot be overstated. Make sure your letter is addressed to the correct individual and that your contact information appears on all pages in case they get separated.
- Consider the complete package. View the separate parts of your application as a whole and ensure that each piece of information complements the other. Overall look and feel should be consistent, so check formatting and font.
- Build rapport. Embrace the opportunity for initial small talk and try to relax.
- Know your resumé. Firms use your information as a springboard for talking points.
- Research the firm. Reach out to current or incoming students. They are a great resource for information.
- Ask questions. Prepare one or two great questions and don't be afraid to ask tough ones.
- Be prepared. Anticipate questions and practise responses (e.g., highlight strengths by example).
- Don't overprepare. Engage in and adapt to conversation. Don't be too scripted or canned.
- Show interest. Articulate why you are interested in the firm.
- Forget thank-you notes. They aren't necessary or expected. Seriously, your time is better spent resting.