How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

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A. Nony Mouse
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How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 11, 2013 11:08 pm

Cover letters have come up here before, especially the question of whether to write the minimalist, "Harvard-style" letter, or to go into a little more detail. I think everyone can agree, though, that even if you favor the latter, this is NOT the way to go: http://abovethelaw.com/2013/05/how-not- ... er-letter/.

(Anon applicant, if you happen to be on TLS, my apologies for posting this, and I'm sure you're a worthy candidate, but WOW you got poor advice on your cover letter.)

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Elston Gunn
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby Elston Gunn » Sun May 12, 2013 12:04 am

God, this is great. My favorite is that he/she ends it by saying "I need to find gainful and beneficial employment. Let me know if you've got anything."

NYstate
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby NYstate » Sun May 12, 2013 12:14 am

" knowledge is a tool."

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cinephile
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby cinephile » Sun May 12, 2013 1:00 am

Elston Gunn wrote:God, this is great. My favorite is that he/she ends it by saying "I need to find gainful and beneficial employment. Let me know if you've got anything."



I know someone who got a job at an elite firm by saying something like this. He probably had great grades and a great resume too. But, if all else fails this tactic might actually work.

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Clearly
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby Clearly » Sun May 12, 2013 2:10 am

This is GREAT!

Anonymous User
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 12, 2013 3:01 pm

People mock this but this may actually be a sensible tactic depending on whether one is playing "offense" or "defense" with the cover letter. By defense, I mean those from HYS or top 5-10% at other T10 schools, whose resume, grades, etc. speak for themselves. You need little more than the "Harvard-style" letter where you say name, class year, applying for 201x-201y term, maybe one sentence re: local connection if you have one. On the other hand, those playing offense are people whose cover letters need to stand out to get noticed. The guy's coming out of Vermont Law and trying to get a clerkship in Alaska. This may have raised his chances from 1/1,000,000 to 1/1,000 -- and if it did, then it was a good move.

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bjsesq
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby bjsesq » Sun May 12, 2013 3:07 pm

I like it.

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Elston Gunn
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby Elston Gunn » Sun May 12, 2013 3:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:People mock this but this may actually be a sensible tactic depending on whether one is playing "offense" or "defense" with the cover letter. By defense, I mean those from HYS or top 5-10% at other T10 schools, whose resume, grades, etc. speak for themselves. You need little more than the "Harvard-style" letter where you say name, class year, applying for 201x-201y term, maybe one sentence re: local connection if you have one. On the other hand, those playing offense are people whose cover letters need to stand out to get noticed. The guy's coming out of Vermont Law and trying to get a clerkship in Alaska. This may have raised his chances from 1/1,000,000 to 1/1,000 -- and if it did, then it was a good move.

There's a difference between a risky cover letter and an awful one though. But fair enough.

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Tangerine Gleam
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sun May 12, 2013 4:18 pm

Wow. Amazing.

Agree with above poster. "Risky" is one thing, "shitty" is another.

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dr123
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby dr123 » Sun May 12, 2013 4:23 pm

who the fuck writes like that. It's like dood just tried to use every single 10 dollar word possible.

lolwat
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby lolwat » Sun May 12, 2013 4:34 pm

Unfortunately the "risky" cover letters by their very nature are either ones good enough to get you an interview or bad enough to get it posted on ATL. If neither results, it wasn't risky enough.

Most of us are probably in situations where it doesn't pay to be risky. So why not, I guess. Reducing your chances from one-in-a-million to zero doesn't hurt much.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun May 12, 2013 6:42 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:People mock this but this may actually be a sensible tactic depending on whether one is playing "offense" or "defense" with the cover letter. By defense, I mean those from HYS or top 5-10% at other T10 schools, whose resume, grades, etc. speak for themselves. You need little more than the "Harvard-style" letter where you say name, class year, applying for 201x-201y term, maybe one sentence re: local connection if you have one. On the other hand, those playing offense are people whose cover letters need to stand out to get noticed. The guy's coming out of Vermont Law and trying to get a clerkship in Alaska. This may have raised his chances from 1/1,000,000 to 1/1,000 -- and if it did, then it was a good move.

There's a difference between a risky cover letter and an awful one though. But fair enough.

Yeah, I get the point about needing to be noticed, and I did something like that in a statement of interest for a job once. I can even see how, in the right hands, this guy's narrative might have worked (although personally, I find the "my journey to enlightenment as a bright young man" narrative totally uninteresting). So I don't mean to knock the strategy so much as this particular execution.

Myself
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Postby Myself » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:11 pm

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Last edited by Myself on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

johndhi
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby johndhi » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:04 pm

I actually quite like the cover letter. I think it's funny.

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Bronte
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby Bronte » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:23 pm

In certain, relatively rare circumstances, it can make sense to write a risky cover letter that will stand out. But this is over-the-top and decidedly overwritten. Unless writing purely for comedy or to make some point about linguistics, it is not wise to pack prose with words that people don't use in everyday life. "Portentously"? "Unleavened"? "Hardtack"? And like most writing aided by heavy use of a thesaurus, a lot of the words seem awkward and potentially misused.

In terms of content, the "I grew up privileged and will now spin that into something interesting" schtick almost never works. Especially when mixed with words like "dude" and references to short skirts. The letter is ultimately devoid of anything substantive that stands out. Anyway, the fact that this ended up on ATL probably speaks for itself.

As a side note, you have to wonder if the clerk that leaked this isn't going to get in a bit of trouble with his judge.

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nevdash
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby nevdash » Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:35 pm

Bronte wrote:In certain, relatively rare circumstances, it can make sense to write a risky cover letter that will stand out. But this is over-the-top and decidedly overwritten. Unless writing purely for comedy or to make some point about linguistics, it is not wise to pack prose with words that people don't use in everyday life. "Portentously"? "Unleavened"? "Hardtack"? And like most writing aided by heavy use of a thesaurus, a lot of the words seem awkward and potentially misused.

Seems like it would be the perfect cover letter for Selya. I think he still hires clerks even though he's senior status.

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Bronte
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby Bronte » Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:48 pm

nevdash wrote:
Bronte wrote:In certain, relatively rare circumstances, it can make sense to write a risky cover letter that will stand out. But this is over-the-top and decidedly overwritten. Unless writing purely for comedy or to make some point about linguistics, it is not wise to pack prose with words that people don't use in everyday life. "Portentously"? "Unleavened"? "Hardtack"? And like most writing aided by heavy use of a thesaurus, a lot of the words seem awkward and potentially misused.

Seems like it would be the perfect cover letter for Selya. I think he still hires clerks even though he's senior status.


That WSJ Law Blog post also happens to be an example of effectively using big words for the sake of humor.

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holdencaulfield
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby holdencaulfield » Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:43 am

I wonder what this kid would order at a bar. Definitely not a budlight.

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KD35
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Re: How NOT to write a clerkship cover letter

Postby KD35 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:53 am

holdencaulfield wrote:I wonder what this kid would order at a bar. Definitely not a budlight.


It would involve hearty libations, to say the least.




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