Another way to separate from the pack of cover letters and resumes is to demonstrate serious commitment to a particular practice area.
You are asking the firm/decision maker to take a risk on you (especially, if you did not come through the usual channels) so it is helpful if you can convey seriousness of purpose. Calculated risks are easier to sell on firm management. Your correspondence should demonstrate that you are worth the investment to train you. You want to communicate that even after your salary, overhead, and the cost to train you, the chances are good that you will be a productive attorney earlier than the usual pattern (after two years taking into account collections on your time which include write-offs). So, be specific and provide as many relevant details as possible.
Here is an example using your educational background — “My commitment to the field of corporate law is long standing as demonstrated by my academic pursuits and results to date, including earning As in all of my college finance and accounting courses and maintaining an A average in the three corporate and business courses I have taken in law school.” In this case, you may want to ask one of your corporate law professors or other mentors to write a letter of recommendation for you. This letter could emphasize your commitment to the particular practice area. We will talk more about recommendation letters in later posts.
Here is one illustrating your work experience — “My commitment to the field of corporate law is long standing as demonstrated by my relevant work experience and achievements to date, including my current position as legal clerk for ABC, Company which recently completed a complicated leveraged buyout transaction for which I was heavily involved and received positive feedback from the lead mid-level associate on the team.” Again, you may want to ask your supervisor to write a recommendation letter for you.