An effective cover letter should state how you can add value. In particular, the mission is to:
- Keep the person reading. You want to grab the reader’s attention. Help them to at least make it past the first sentence.
- Articulate succinctly how you can contribute immediately. Why are you unique in a way that can benefit the firm and the person’s practice area?
Examples of typical openers (that will not likely achieve your objective):
- I am a third year student and am interested in pursuing a career in litigation.
- I would like to be considered for an associate position.
- I am writing to express my interest in…
- I am interested in working with your firm because of your firm’s focus on…
Examples of effective openers:
- My work experience as a _____________ will enable me to contribute right away to your practice. Then, state a couple of reasons why this statement is true.
- My academic background and in particular, my focus on _________ will allow me to become an immediate contributor to your practice. Again, support this statement.
If possible, helpful to have a sponsor
- Firm client, someone who works or worked at firm
- Then, “I was referred to you by __________ and based on her detailed description of your practice, I believe I can be helpful to you because of my relevant work experience (or academic background or whatever).”
Effective closer (ties the letter together):
- I will build upon the current success of the litigation practice by contributing my penchant for detail as demonstrated by _________. Sell yourself but be persuasive by supporting each claim made.
- Close with the substantive items (e.g., work experience) and intangible items (e.g., attention to detail) you will contribute. Again, support each claim made.