Planning on applying for a law school program? An aspiring law student? The information below may concern you!
This article will provide you with 8 tips to write and improve your cover letters, section by section, paragraph by paragraph.
Spoiler alert: if you want to work in the world of law, you're going to need a law degree. Just like traditional companies, universities request candidates to submit application files containing a well-written professional CV, a cover letter and transcripts in some cases.
Facing ever-increasing competition and a growing number of talented students, law school directors are placing more and more importance on the candidates' backgrounds, career plans and of course, motivation and interest.
In order to select the best law students for an interview, universities base their selection on the applications of students who wish to enroll in their programme, whether it is a master's degree in European law, business law, social law, competition law or private law, among many others! To stand out, you'll be needing rock solid CVs and cover letters.
On the menu today: unique advice on how to write perfect cover letters land an interview to get into the school of your dreams.
Let's get started!
What should I include in my law school cover letter?
First of all, you need to define the structure of your cover letters, as well as the main sections where you will highlight your background, experiences and career plan. Make sure your cover letter is clear, concise and fits on one page. A one page cover letter will, in addition to being easier to read for the jury, show your ability to synthesize important key information.
Here are the 8 elements that should be included in your law school cover letter:
A subject line
An introduction stating your strong interest
Your career plan (e.g.: which employer you aspire to work with)
Your experiences (internships, previous employer, eloquence contest, student associations, legal firm...)
Your academic background
1. Create a professional header
Although the content of your cover letter will undoubtedly make a difference, its structure should not be neglected. Write this letter as if you were applying for a job and addressing a potential employer.
A professional format can convince the jury to choose one candidate over another based on a well formatted cover letter and a less well structured document.
The starting point for a good cover letter format: a professional header.
What should I include in the header?
Again, adopt the same structure as if you were sending a professional cover letter to an employer.
Here is what the header of your cover letter should include.
Top left of the header
Your address and location
Your email address
Your phone number
Bottom right of the header
The name of the person to whom you are addressing your law school cover letter (this is normally the director of the programme, whom you should name by his/her academic or professional title).
The position of the person in question (Master's director, pedagogical coordinator, university director, etc., as indicated in the application file).
The name and address of the university (street, postcode, city and country).
Skip a line and add the location and date from and at which you are sending your cover letter
Why search and how to find the name of the programme director?
To stand out from the crowd and show your strong interest in joining in enrolling in the programme, you will need to write a tailored cover letter. If you address the programme director, you will take your tailor-made cover letters to a higher level right from the start.
Why should I address my cover letter to a specific person?
Addressing your cover letter to the person in charge of applications at the university sends a strong message that you have done your research on the university, its selection process and decision-makers. Altogether, this shows your interest in the programme and establishment.
How do I find my contact person?
Here are the two main ways to find the name and position of your contact person:
On the law school website
On LinkedIn by typing the name of the university and keywords such as "applications" or "jury"
2. Add a cover letter subject
Another important element to underline your professionalism and to ensure a perfect layout is a subject line describing the topic of your cover letter.
This should include the name of the course and the name of the institution you are applying to.
Here is an example of a subject line:
Subject: Application to the Master of Social Law at the University of Paris Sorbonne
Once you have defined the subject, you can move on to the introduction, another element of vital importance to captivate the person who will read your cover letter.
3. Write a captivating cover letter introduction
Your introduction is the first paragraph in your cover letter. This paragraph should introduce you and present your objective in no more than 2 or 3 sentences. This goes without saying:it needs to be convincing and persuasive!
It should include the following elements:
Your enthusiasm and interest for a specific degree you're aiming for
A summary of your professional experience to date (internships, relevant job, renowned employer)
Your professional situation (current employer if relevant and applicable)
The programme you are completing or are about to finish
A formal sentence stating your application to the programme
Like every other section in your cover letters, the introduction should be tailored and demonstrate that your background, experience and education are relevant to the programme you are applying to. Your introduction needs to be extremely concise, convincing, and persuasive: make sure your strong interest for this particular degree is apparent!
Why emphasizing your strong interest is important
When writing your introduction, emphasizing your strong interest in a programme is of capital importance. The jury is not naïve - its members know you will be applying for more than one program. Demonstrating your interest in this particular programme and sharing concrete examples of why it is best fitted for your career plan will help you legitimise your interest in the programme.
Once you have written your introduction, you can move on to the next paragraph: the one that presents your objectives and how the course you are applying for can help you achieve your career goals.
4. Summarise your career plan
You specified it in your introduction: you want to join this a particular programme in a particular establishment.
In this paragraph, you have to explain why you are applying to this particular university and programme and how it fits into your career plan. Are you aiming for a specific position? A specific employer? A specific legal firm? Why did this establishment pique your interest in particular?
Here are some tips to be as concrete and persuasive as possible:
If you already know it, specify the position you are aiming for! (Magistrate, attorney, attorney general, company lawyer etc.)
If you're set on which employer you will be aiming for after you graduate, you can specifiy that too, especially is its a renowned employer
If you have a concrete project, present it
Present the skills you possess and would like to develop further as part of this course (remember to mention the exact name of the course again, let's keep it tailored!)
By integrating these elements and linking them closely to the degree you are aiming for, your application will be all the more appreciated: the jury will see that you are a serious candidate who know where they're going, with a concrete career plan.
In other words, you show that you know where you are going and which skills, people, institution and employer will enable you to achieve your professional plan.
5. Showcase your professional experience
Once you have presented your career plan, share the first steps you have taken to achieve it in the following paragraph.
In your cover letters, make sure that you only include work experience that is relevant to the programme you are applying for. If you are applying for a master's degree in European law, for example, talking about your part-time jobs at Deliveroo is not necessarily relevant.
That being said, while your experience at Deliveroo should not be the focus of your letter, it can be used to demonstrate certain skills, such as entrepreneurship or time management for example.
How do I highlight my work experience in my cover letter?
Your past experiences (internships, jobs, employer, legal firm) and why they are relevant
The skills you developed during these experiences
The skills you wish to obtain or further develop through the programme (look carefully at the programme's brochure to obtain more information about what is offered for example)
6. Present your educational background
If you have to show the coherence between your professional experience and the degree you are applying for, you will also have to highlight your academic background and how it constitutes a solid basis to enter the programme you're applying for. This is an extremely important paragraph, especially if you're a student with little or no work experience.
How can I highlight my education in my cover letter?
The same logic applies as for professional experience.
Make sure you are concise in the description of your training courses and emphasise what you have achieved in the context of them.
Finally, it is important to underline how the programme you are applying for is in line with your academic background.
In short, make sure you present:
Your educational background (high school, university) and why it is relevant
Notable projects carried out during previous academic years
Skills developed during previous experiences
The skills you wish to obtain or further develop through this degree
Your involvement and interest in student life (e.g. associations, sports clubs)
7. Incorporate your skills in the cover letter
Other important data for the jury: your skills and qualifications in the areas of the programme.
Obviously, you will not be able to list them as you can in a CV.
You will therefore need to carefully incorporate your key competences into your cover letter, in a paragraph dedicated to highlighting an assignment, experience or training for example.
What are examples of skills relevant for law school?
Written and verbal communication
8. Write an impactful conclusion
Your conclusion is a paragraph summarising your career plan, your professional and academic experiences and how the degree you are applying for fits into these.
In short, in your conclusion, remember to:
Renew your strong motivation and interest to join the programme
Specify what it can do for you
Stress the added value you can bring to the institution, the programme and its students
Share your strong interest in sharing more information about your career plan at an interview
Include a greeting
This paragraph is of capital importance, as it wraps up your cover letters and has the potential of leaving a lasting impression on the reader, maximising your chances of landing an interview.
Our general tips for writing your law school cover letters
For some students, writing a cover letter that puts them forward as best as possible is not an easy task.
Here's a simple technique if you're a student and not sure where to start.
We recommend - after reading this article - that you open a Word document or get out a sheet of paper and a pen and just start writing whatever comes to mind.
Try to answer the following questions:
Why do this programme interest you?
What is your career plan?
What are your objectives?
Why is this programme a good fit for you?
What did you learn or achieve in your professional experiences?
Which relevant skills do you possess
What skills do you want to develop or improve?
Why should your student profile interest the university?
Once you have incorporated some of these elements, a sample or template of a law school cover letter could potentially help you to structure your ideas in concise paragraphs.
If you are not totally comfortable with writing, we recommend that you ask for support from professional writers, who will help you write a professional cover letter that will put you forward in the best possible way and maximise your chances of getting an interview.
We're happy to support you along the way, feel free to reach out to us!
Good luck to all of you!