November 10, 2010

Show serious commitment to practice area

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 […]
November 8, 2010

State how you can add value (up front and at end)

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 […]
October 23, 2010

Be rigorous because tiny details matter

When preparing any correspondence or your resume, be as close to perfect as you can.  Here are some suggestions: Pay attention to every little detail.  Another way to separate yourself from the crowd.  Minutiae is important!  Correct comma placement, correct spacing, no typos.  Read your letter many times and then have someone else read the letter.  It may be worth the cost to pay someone to […]
October 20, 2010

The art of the follow-up (part two)

Thank you for your comments on the first post on this subject.  People seem to be asking for additional suggestions for follow-up items.  In other words, what if there is nothing significant happening that is worth noting in follow-up correspondence?  One way to plan ahead is to consider that the purpose of the first interview (or meeting if it is not structured as a formal interview) is to […]
October 11, 2010

Write several people within the firm

Some thoughts about who should see your perfect cover letter (to the law firm): Write the obvious person with the title — Hiring or Recruiting Coordinator Write the lawyer in the targeted practice area.  Here the idea is to find touch points such as the same undergraduate college or law school, same home town, same interests, etc. Write the lawyer’s assistant.  Yes, the assistant.  Write a […]
October 8, 2010

Five take away points for writing effective cover letters

Below are some thoughts for writing effective cover letters to law firms.  I will expand on each of these take away points (TAPs) in postings to follow. Write several people Be perfect — tiny details matter State how you can add value Show committment to practice area Set up follow-up contact
October 4, 2010

The art of the follow-up

Writing an eye-catching cover letter is helpful, but persistent follow-up is key.  In my experience (both personally and from mentoring), it is not likely that you will hear something positive back from the perspective top law firm after one round of correspondence.  The standard rejection letter probably sent by a non-lawyer, manager type is the common response. Do not stop after this first round!  Instead, think of good reasons that […]
September 26, 2010

Most important characteristic of a good law firm job?

From my experience, the dream law firm job has decent, thoughtful partners (and associates) who are generally pleasant to work with and learn from.  High quality work is also very important but it seems to me that it would not be enjoyable to work with extremely difficult people no matter how stimulating the projects.  On the other hand, mediocre work with good people does not sound so bad.  Thoughts?
September 23, 2010

Isn’t all about the billable hour?

Recently, a prospective law student asked me this question. To succeed at a big law firm and ultimately make partner, isn’t all about the billable hour? No. It is more than that. The billable hour tally is very important but it is also about the “business” of practicing law which is basically sales — selling yourself to the law firm to land the job, selling yourself […]
September 19, 2010

Writing effective cover letters (podcast)

Please click here (and then press play on the embedded link) to listen to a podcast on the subject of writing effective cover letters to law firms.  Comments are encouraged.