1L Cover Letters and Resumes

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carsondalywashere
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby carsondalywashere » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:52 pm

I apologize if this topic is a mess, but I'm trying to wrap my head around how to structure a resume and cover letter so I don't have to do the work this fall during 1L.

I've searched around these boards, and have read some good example cover letters, but I'm hoping to get some more interesting advice from TLSers on how to write a cover letter for summer jobs after 1L year.

From what I gather, cover letters are typically structured as (please correct me if I'm wrong):

1st paragraph - I'm a 1L at ____ and I'm applying to _____ for these reasons. I'm a good fit for these reasons.
2nd paragraph - reason #1 why I'm a good candidate; did well in a relevant class and found the work interesting
3rd paragraph - reason #2 why I'm a good candidate; attribute which would make a good employee, demonstrate by telling a story from previous work experience
4th paragraph - reason #3, maybe another attribute
5th paragraph - thanks for your time, in closing, etc.

I don't really like this, as it feels stale and formulaic. My current cover letter is a lot different than this, but it obviously highlights way different experiences. Speaking of that, I work in sales and marketing....would it be good to discuss sales/business development success stories in a cover letter? What are 1L employers looking for? I'm gunning for a 1L SA position in my home market, but I plan on mass mailing pretty much everywhere.

For resumes, the only difference I noticed is that now my education section will be bigger. Otherwise, it seems to be the same as any other resume. Please tell me if this is wrong.

carsondalywashere
Posts: 442
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby carsondalywashere » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:25 pm

Bump

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jaekeem
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Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby jaekeem » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:36 pm

carsondalywashere wrote:I apologize if this topic is a mess, but I'm trying to wrap my head around how to structure a resume and cover letter so I don't have to do the work this fall during 1L.

I've searched around these boards, and have read some good example cover letters, but I'm hoping to get some more interesting advice from TLSers on how to write a cover letter for summer jobs after 1L year.

From what I gather, cover letters are typically structured as (please correct me if I'm wrong):

1st paragraph - I'm a 1L at ____ and I'm applying to _____ for these reasons. I'm a good fit for these reasons.
2nd paragraph - reason #1 why I'm a good candidate; did well in a relevant class and found the work interesting
3rd paragraph - reason #2 why I'm a good candidate; attribute which would make a good employee, demonstrate by telling a story from previous work experience
4th paragraph - reason #3, maybe another attribute
5th paragraph - thanks for your time, in closing, etc.

I don't really like this, as it feels stale and formulaic. My current cover letter is a lot different than this, but it obviously highlights way different experiences. Speaking of that, I work in sales and marketing....would it be good to discuss sales/business development success stories in a cover letter? What are 1L employers looking for? I'm gunning for a 1L SA position in my home market, but I plan on mass mailing pretty much everywhere.

For resumes, the only difference I noticed is that now my education section will be bigger. Otherwise, it seems to be the same as any other resume. Please tell me if this is wrong.

I don't think there's anything wrong with using a cover letter to highlight your sales and marketing skills (shows you know how to satisfy clients).

In fact, that was one of the recommendation givens from career services at my school, on the list of sample reasons by which you could frame yourself as an attractive 1L candidate.

I go to a T14 that I think has a reputation for a really really wonderful (almost aggressively so, and that may tip off where I go) career services office, and the format we were told to follow was similar to yours, but only 2 reason paragraphs (So 4 total, not 5).

I think if you're applying to firm jobs you should stick to a format like the one you posted, if only because that seems to be the standard, and law firms are pretty conservative when it comes to hiring people (in terms of how much they find unorthodox methods palatable, or so I've been lead to believe). Public Service might be different (I have absolutely no experience in that regard), but I don't think having a stale and formulaic cover letter is necessarily a bad thing. You're selling yourself to the recruiter/employer, and when it comes to biglaw and the like...for the most part I think the kinds of associate that firms are looking to hire are coming in relatively safe/predictable packages.

I think if you have some crazy interesting/impressive softs or work experience, or are shooting for a firm out of your GPA range...maybe then you should go for a kind of out-there cover letter strategy. But Idk. I'm really just regurgitating what I've heard and been told.
Last edited by jaekeem on Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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UVA2B
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Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby UVA2B » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:37 pm

Your school will have specific formatting guidance on all of this that they will expect you to follow. And while some guidance is pretty universal (one page, etc.), other stuff will be idiosyncratic to your career services. You can't really get ahead on this unless you reach out to career services to get their guidance.

That said, I wouldn't worry about how long this will take. Your career services is going to help you through the entire job hunt and you can't even engage career services for help until middle of November.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:36 pm

I only ever used 2 reason paras too. 1st = 1L at [wherever], connections to the market. 2nd = reason for my interest in the job, tied to specific experiences. 3rd = reasons I'm a great hire (ideally stuff not on your resume), 4th = enclosing [whatever], LORs to follow [only for judges], look forward to speaking with you, etc. Interest in the position should be brief and concrete, to the extent it's in there.

Formulaic isn't really an issue. Employers aren't looking for 1Ls who are trying to reinvent the wheel; they are more likely to want to see that you get the norms of the profession. As a 0L, in fact, what you think isn't stale and formulaic may scream "I don't get law jobs yet." (Sort of scooped by jakeem.)

I agree talking about your past experience works. Make sure you can tie it in to your interest in this job, or your suitability for this job.

Plus cover letters only get looked at VERY briefly.

carsondalywashere
Posts: 442
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby carsondalywashere » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:06 pm

UVA2B wrote:Your school will have specific formatting guidance on all of this that they will expect you to follow. And while some guidance is pretty universal (one page, etc.), other stuff will be idiosyncratic to your career services. You can't really get ahead on this unless you reach out to career services to get their guidance.

That said, I wouldn't worry about how long this will take. Your career services is going to help you through the entire job hunt and you can't even engage career services for help until middle of November.

Do you mind elaborating on the career services bit? Why can't we engage with them until November?

carsondalywashere
Posts: 442
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby carsondalywashere » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:06 pm

jaekeem wrote:
carsondalywashere wrote:I apologize if this topic is a mess, but I'm trying to wrap my head around how to structure a resume and cover letter so I don't have to do the work this fall during 1L.

I've searched around these boards, and have read some good example cover letters, but I'm hoping to get some more interesting advice from TLSers on how to write a cover letter for summer jobs after 1L year.

From what I gather, cover letters are typically structured as (please correct me if I'm wrong):

1st paragraph - I'm a 1L at ____ and I'm applying to _____ for these reasons. I'm a good fit for these reasons.
2nd paragraph - reason #1 why I'm a good candidate; did well in a relevant class and found the work interesting
3rd paragraph - reason #2 why I'm a good candidate; attribute which would make a good employee, demonstrate by telling a story from previous work experience
4th paragraph - reason #3, maybe another attribute
5th paragraph - thanks for your time, in closing, etc.

I don't really like this, as it feels stale and formulaic. My current cover letter is a lot different than this, but it obviously highlights way different experiences. Speaking of that, I work in sales and marketing....would it be good to discuss sales/business development success stories in a cover letter? What are 1L employers looking for? I'm gunning for a 1L SA position in my home market, but I plan on mass mailing pretty much everywhere.

For resumes, the only difference I noticed is that now my education section will be bigger. Otherwise, it seems to be the same as any other resume. Please tell me if this is wrong.

I don't think there's anything wrong with using a cover letter to highlight your sales and marketing skills (shows you know how to satisfy clients).

In fact, that was one of the recommendation givens from career services at my school, on the list of sample reasons by which you could frame yourself as an attractive 1L candidate.

I go to a T14 that I think has a reputation for a really really wonderful (almost aggressively so, and that may tip off where I go) career services office, and the format we were told to follow was similar to yours, but only 2 reason paragraphs (So 4 total, not 5).

I think if you're applying to firm jobs you should stick to a format like the one you posted, if only because that seems to be the standard, and law firms are pretty conservative when it comes to hiring people (in terms of how much they find unorthodox methods palatable, or so I've been lead to believe). Public Service might be different (I have absolutely no experience in that regard), but I don't think having a stale and formulaic cover letter is necessarily a bad thing. You're selling yourself to the recruiter/employer, and when it comes to biglaw and the like...for the most part I think the kinds of associate that firms are looking to hire are coming in relatively safe/predictable packages.

I think if you have some crazy interesting/impressive softs or work experience, or are shooting for a firm out of your GPA range...maybe then you should go for a kind of out-there cover letter strategy. But Idk. I'm really just regurgitating what I've heard and been told.

Very helpful post, thank you!

carsondalywashere
Posts: 442
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby carsondalywashere » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:09 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I only ever used 2 reason paras too. 1st = 1L at [wherever], connections to the market. 2nd = reason for my interest in the job, tied to specific experiences. 3rd = reasons I'm a great hire (ideally stuff not on your resume), 4th = enclosing [whatever], LORs to follow [only for judges], look forward to speaking with you, etc. Interest in the position should be brief and concrete, to the extent it's in there.

Formulaic isn't really an issue. Employers aren't looking for 1Ls who are trying to reinvent the wheel; they are more likely to want to see that you get the norms of the profession. As a 0L, in fact, what you think isn't stale and formulaic may scream "I don't get law jobs yet." (Sort of scooped by jakeem.)

I agree talking about your past experience works. Make sure you can tie it in to your interest in this job, or your suitability for this job.

Plus cover letters only get looked at VERY briefly.

I have so little context that I don't even know which past experiences would be valued in a cover letter (for example, I have a lot of sealing the deal success stories, but idk if that's something they want for a 1L position lol).

To be clear, applying for jobs starts Dec. 1st? And for 1L, people essentially just mass mail (email?) any firm or judge in their target market that they could possibly work for?

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UVA2B
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Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby UVA2B » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:40 pm

carsondalywashere wrote:
UVA2B wrote:Your school will have specific formatting guidance on all of this that they will expect you to follow. And while some guidance is pretty universal (one page, etc.), other stuff will be idiosyncratic to your career services. You can't really get ahead on this unless you reach out to career services to get their guidance.

That said, I wouldn't worry about how long this will take. Your career services is going to help you through the entire job hunt and you can't even engage career services for help until middle of November.

Do you mind elaborating on the career services bit? Why can't we engage with them until November?


Sure. Career services will likely engage you very generally about these things very early, telling you how to get started writing your legal resume and your cover letter. Like within the first week or two of classes is pretty normal from the schools where I am familiar. And they will likely do a collection of your documents as soon as you have them ready after following their specific outline and guidance for how to format the documents, and will get them back to you on a rolling basis on their own schedule. The general advice in this thread about cover letters has been good, but just know that your career services will likely have some guidance that they personally want to see.

Now, that is just general engagement with career services, and that's perfectly allowed under ABA guidelines. But Career Services cannot begin giving you any substantive career counseling before the middle of November due to ABA guidelines. That's what I meant, and I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.

carsondalywashere
Posts: 442
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: 1L Cover Letters and Resumes

Postby carsondalywashere » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:51 pm

UVA2B wrote:
carsondalywashere wrote:
UVA2B wrote:Your school will have specific formatting guidance on all of this that they will expect you to follow. And while some guidance is pretty universal (one page, etc.), other stuff will be idiosyncratic to your career services. You can't really get ahead on this unless you reach out to career services to get their guidance.

That said, I wouldn't worry about how long this will take. Your career services is going to help you through the entire job hunt and you can't even engage career services for help until middle of November.

Do you mind elaborating on the career services bit? Why can't we engage with them until November?


Sure. Career services will likely engage you very generally about these things very early, telling you how to get started writing your legal resume and your cover letter. Like within the first week or two of classes is pretty normal from the schools where I am familiar. And they will likely do a collection of your documents as soon as you have them ready after following their specific outline and guidance for how to format the documents, and will get them back to you on a rolling basis on their own schedule. The general advice in this thread about cover letters has been good, but just know that your career services will likely have some guidance that they personally want to see.

Now, that is just general engagement with career services, and that's perfectly allowed under ABA guidelines. But Career Services cannot begin giving you any substantive career counseling before the middle of November due to ABA guidelines. That's what I meant, and I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.


Oh wow, I didn't realize how regulated it was. I was assuming it was like college where you could start working with them day one. Thanks for your response!




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