Cover Letters

Ed. note: This is the latest post by Anonymous Recruitment Director, who will offer an insider’s perspective on the world of law firm hiring.

Following the publication of my initial column, I received scores of emails from polite job-seekers with specific questions about their current employment situations. While I am not able to reply to all of the notes, I can offer some guidance to assist the majority of these job-seekers.

Insider tip: Biglaw firms tend to avoid hiring candidates who have strayed off of the traditional path to Biglaw firm employment. Such “rogue” candidates make the recruitment committee nervous, and any candidate who makes the committee nervous will not be advanced in the process. If you want to work in Biglaw, get a job in Biglaw during your 2L summer. If this is not possible (because you did not land a job in Biglaw or you have already graduated), get a job at a small- or medium-sized private firm in the exact practice area that you hope to work in when you make the jump after a few years to Biglaw. Clerkships are fine, but law firm experience in your desired practice area is the ideal. Also, of great importance, you MUST do well in all courses related to your practice area of choice. If you received a C in Securities Regulation, it will be a hard sell to land a job as a securities lawyer at a large firm.

What are some other factors that will make the recruitment committee uncomfortable?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Strategic Career Choices And (Yawn) Cover Letters”

* Just in time for Halloween, here’s a real Night of the Living Dead scenario. In Ohio you only have 3 years to challenge a ruling that you’re legally dead. After that, regardless of how f**king “alive” you are, you have to stay dead. [WTAE]

* Remember the epic Ninth Circuit benchslap oral argument? Well, the government read the writing on the wall and has confessed error and vowed to use the video of the oral argument as a training tool for its attorneys. We hope they’ll consider using the ATL write-up as supplemental reading material. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Corporette offers some good advice on how to write great cover letters. A good start is not writing one like this guy we profiled awhile ago. [Corporette]

* A fund has been set up to help the man injured in the alleged hit-and-run involving a Hastings student. [We Pay]

* Law schools tell us they’re moving toward a model encouraging practical skills… and keep hiring more professors without any practical skills. #fail [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Does anyone remember 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford? Let’s say you do. Here are revised lyrics for 1Ls. [Law Prof Blawg]

* Infographic telling us what we all knew — the bubble done burst. [Online Paralegal Programs]

* The Ole Miss FedSoc has readopted Colonel Reb, the now departed Ole Miss mascot, who the student body rose up and tried to replace with Admiral Ackbar solely because the collected student body figured out this was racist (prompting one of my friends to create this brilliant image). So as Elie asks, “Is it really news that the Ole Miss FedSoc is raceist?” [Ole Miss]

* A visit with Bill Coleman Jr., the first African-American Supreme Court clerk. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* More about the Stephentown incident in which 300 kids broke into a guy’s house and live-tweeted the $20,000 in damage they did. Some parents have threatened to sue him for identifying the kids who ruined his house — because blaming the victim is awesome! [IT-Lex]

* Today in contrarian arguments, fracking could solve the global water crisis. [Breaking Energy]

Different schools of thought exist when it comes to cover letters for job applications. Back when I applied for legal jobs, I took a “do no harm” approach, using the cover letter merely to transmit my résumé, transcript, and writing sample. But jobs were more plentiful back then.

In a tougher legal job market, employers expect more from cover letters. For cover letter advice from an in-house perspective, see David Mowry’s post. For cover letter advice from a small-firm perspective, see Jay Shepherd’s post.

And for an example of how not to write a cover letter, keep reading….

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Ahh, cover letters. It’s incredibly boring to write them as a job seeker, and even more excruciating to read them as an employer. These days, people have got to be wondering if writing another tame, boilerplate cover letter is even worth it. After all, most of them know where their application package is going: the trash folder. So why not do something to make yourself stand out?

We’ve seen countless superb specimens that longtime readers may remember, like that of the unemployed law grad who turned all of his rejection letters into an “unorthodox” cover letter. That fellow didn’t receive an offer, but today, we’ve got one that’s really piqued employers’ interest. It’s been forwarded around the finance world, and now it’s even made its way to legal inboxes across the country. This kid may want an i-banking internship now, but he’s also a prospective law student.

The cover letter has been described by its hundreds of recipients as “hilarious but bold,” “amazing,” “a gem,” and “AWESOME.” Here’s just a little snippet of what we’re about to show you:

I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing.

Picture this guy, coming to a law school classroom near you. That’s some real head-bitch-in-charge potential right there. His cover letter is brutally honest, to a fault, which is what makes it so damn great.

Let’s take a look at this thing, and help it go even more viral….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Awesome, Self-Deprecating Cover Letter That’s Going Viral”

This is the second part of a series on getting yourself in the door to an in-house position. If it’s not up your alley, read no further. Based on the feedback I received from last week’s entry, this is helpful to some folks out there. Don’t worry, my tell-all book is in the works, and when I’m ready to retire, I’ll regale you with stories of love triangles and hexagons that will make your head spin. Until then, let’s work on getting you that gig in-house.

It is presumed that you worked hard on your resumes and cover letters in law school, vetted them through the career office, and had at least two or more folks review them before sending them out for OCI and beyond. If you’ve been practicing for a while, and are now looking to jump in-house, you’ve likely dusted off your resume and edited it to include the substantive work you’ve done, your many court appearances, and your list of mega deals that you’ve brought to completion. Or not. The reality may be that you don’t have all that much “sexy” work to list on your updated resume.

This may not be a problem…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “House Rules: Use Your Resume and Cover Letter to Get Inside”

Chris Christie has an idea for Warren Buffett.

* How can you tout your achievements in a cover letter without sounding like a tool? Here are some pointers from Professor Eugene Volokh. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* The “unbundling” of legal services is a big buzzword when talking about the direction of the profession. But Jordan Furlong has a question: should lawyers and law firms start thinking about “rebundling”? [Law21.ca]

* Benchslap of the day earlier this month: the Fourth Circuit smacks around some saucy AUSAs. [Legal Blog Watch]

* “[P]ublic drunkenness is not illegal in NYC.” (Elie will be glad to hear this.) [Gothamist]

* How will SCOTUS rule on the Stolen Valor Act? Mike Sacks reads the oral argument tea leaves. [Huffington Post]

* Chris Christie to Warren Buffett: if you want to pay more in taxes, “just write a check and shut up.” [Dealbreaker]

* A Harvard Law School student, Matthew Schoenfeld, stands up for a good cause. [Harvard Law School News]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

As the owner of a small law firm, I’m always surprised at how many blind résumés I receive in the mail. First of all, who even uses mail anymore? Does anyone seriously think that I’m going take them more seriously because they used cream-colored, 100% cloth, 24-pound bond paper? I’m not.

But forget the résumés for a minute; for me, it’s the cover letter that tells me whether I want to interview this person. Over the years, I’ve received thousands of cover letters from lawyers and law students. I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t need to read the résumé before I’ve made my decision.

So with that in mind, here are 11 tips for writing cover letters to potential employers.

1. Spell my frikkin’ name right. You’d be astounded at how many times candidates blow this one.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Enclosed Please Find … No Reason to Hire Me”