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Harvard Law School Cover Letter Samples

Cover Letter Advice

The cover letter is a sample of your written work and should be brief (preferably one page), persuasive, well-reasoned, and grammatically perfect.  

A good cover letter:

  • Tells the employer who you are (e.g., a first-year student at YLS) and what you are seeking (e.g., a summer intern position);
  • Shows that you know about the particular employer and the kind of work the employer does (i.e., civil or criminal work, direct client service, "impact" cases, antitrust litigation); 
  • Demonstrates your writing skills;
  • Demonstrates your commitment to the work of that particular employer and converys that you have something to contribute;
  • Shows that you and that employer are a good "fit;" and
  • Tells the employer how to get in touch with you by email, telephone, and mail.

 Determine to whom you should address the cover letter. If you are applying to law firms, address your letter to the recruiting director. For NALP member firms, use the NALP Directory to obtain contact information. (NALP also provides a useful mail merge feature for generating multiple letters). For other employers, you can refer to their websites, or contact the office to determine to whom your materials should be directed. 

 Although there are many ways to write a cover letter, the following format has worked well for students in the past.

  • In the first paragraph of your cover letter, explain why you are sending your resume to the employer: “I am a first-year student at Yale Law School and am seeking a position with your organization for the summer 20xx.” If you are applying to public interest employers and are eligible for SPIF funding, you can mention that here.
  • Use the second paragraph to explain your interest in the employer, including your interest in the employer’s geographic location, reputation, specialty area, or public service.
  • In the third paragraph, stress why this employer should hire you. Elaborate on the qualifications that you possess that will make you an exceptional summer intern or attorney.
  • The final paragraph should thank the employer for taking the time to review your application and tell them how to reach you. You may wish to state that you will contact the employer in a couple of weeks to follow-up and then actually do so. This is especially true with public interest employers who are often understaffed and will appreciate your extra effort.

Additional CDO Resources

How you present yourself and your credentials to potential employers is crucial.  Your first impression must be impeccable – this means an accurate, well-executed legal resume, cover letter and whatever other materials the employer requests.  At the initial application stage, most employers expect only a resume and cover letter when you are applying directly to them.  Other materials that may be requested, however, include:  a law school transcript (either unofficial or official), an undergraduate transcript, a writing sample and a list of references.  Always be sure to verify the materials required by each employer prior to applying for a summer or post-graduate position. [read more]

Entire Marketing Yourself to Legal Employers Information [view]

Sample Resumes

Sample Cover Letters

  • Cover #1 (1L looking for summer associate position - large firm)
  • Cover #2 (1L looking for summer employment - small firm)
  • Cover #3 (2L looking for summer associate position)
  • Cover #4 (2L looking for summer employment)
  • Cover #5 (3L looking for permanent employment)
  • Cover #6 (Public Service)
  • Cover #7 (Summer Judicial Intern)

Sample Transcript

Sample List of Reference

Sample Writing Samples

Sample Thank you Letters

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