Include public interest work in Big Law cover letter?

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Include public interest work in Big Law cover letter?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:49 pm

My entire work and extracurricular experience has been devoted to public interest, including a year with AmeriCorps, work in affordable housing, and legislative internships. Further, my law school activities have all been public interest related as well (including working for an international NGO this 1L summer).

However, I did well in 1L (Top 3% at a T25) and want to take advantage of the opportunity to work in BigLaw for atleast a couple of years out of law school. I am wondering what people's thoughts are regarding how I should approach this experience in a cover letter. I think my work has given me a sense of compassion and understanding, however, are these attributes that a BigLaw recruiter will view positively? It seems to me that even though the firms talk a tough game regarding their commitment to pro bono/social justice, they dont want a "bleeding heart" working as a junior associate.

Its all there in my resume, but I want to know how much I should highlight my PI work as an asset in the cover letter as opposed to downplaying it. Thanks.

Anonymous User
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Re: Include public interest work in Big Law cover letter?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:14 pm

BUMP

I am interested in knowing the answer to this too

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Re: Include public interest work in Big Law cover letter?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:30 pm

All of my prior work experience was PI related(worked at 2 non profits between undergrad and law school, worked at non profit 1L summer, all law school activities were PI related). As long as you have a credible answer as to why you want to make the jump no-one seemed to care. I think a couple of interviewers asked but once I told them I wanted to make the jump to private law for XYZ reasons it was not mentioned again, and in fact just led them to tell ME about the pro bono opportunities for the most part.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Include public interest work in Big Law cover letter?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:10 pm

First of all, I don't think it really matters, since few people actually read cover letters except to skim them to see if they're bizarre or have egregious mistakes.

That said, I think you want to talk about the types of skills you gained through your experiences that would be applicable in a big firm setting. So if you did legal research/writing at the NGO, talk about that. Or experience working in teams, writing, or managing projects in your previous job. I don't think you want to talk about your sense of compassion and understanding. It's something most people would value, but it's really not where you want to place your emphasis given that your resume already screams it, and it can come off as holier-than-thou.

The best advice I've seen about presentation in cover letters or interviews is you want to look at the stereotypes/conclusions your resume will lead interviewers to draw, and then present yourself in a way that leaves the positive stereotypes/conclusions while addressing any negative ones. So if you were a hard science major, came straight LS out of college, and have top grades, people might stereotype you as being very analytical, but lacking maturity/social skills. You want to address the latter, and you don't really need to say anything about the former because your resume screams it. Similarly, if you resume reads PI, you don't really need to emphasize your compassion or sense of justice - your resume already screams it - rather, you want to emphasize your commitment to biglaw (at least for a few years) and your previous experience was actually good preparation for it.

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Re: Include public interest work in Big Law cover letter?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:12 pm

Bump




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