The middle paragraph of the cover letter is the Skills/Value paragraph. This is your personal sales pitch. The core of your bio (oral presentation) in the interview lies in the structure of this paragraph. As you assemble your qualifications in the construction of this paragraph, you are also preparing the outline of your interview.
Remember, in these sentences you are trying to tie together your virtues in a logical and readable style. I gained paralegal experience as an intern where I assisted attorneys with trial preparation, deposition summarizing, and document organization. I also used well-developed computer skills in drafting motions and preparing indexes. Since I have three years of office experience in a busy medical clinic, I combine a strong knowledge of medical terminology with a real sensitivity to client contact issues.
The elements covered in this sample second paragraph are:
- Reiterated elements from first paragraph with an expansion of specific skills and experiences gained. As it was previously mentioned, if you have a four-year degree be sure to introduce that fact in your first paragraph. Never neglect to include all of your paralegal training in this paragraph.
- Technical/computer skills need to be in almost all cover letters. Elaborate on the systems you know. Mention the technical skills you have developed! Your competition does.
- Introduce pertinent skills and experience from your past background such as work habits, or similarity of situation, that could be particularly meaningful to a practice area. Transferability of skills is the goal of each "Transitional Person." Since this profession is filled with "Transitional," this is a goal you should strive for. The Skill Assessment Exercise in Chapter 5 is the forge from which your material will emerge. Don't fail to extract transferable skills from your background in a meaningful and credible way.
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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
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Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
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