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Applying For Your First Legal Job As A Graduate

published July 30, 2021

By Author - LawCrossing
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Graduating from college with a law degree is a huge achievement. Now the real work begins. We are talking about applying for legal jobs and forging a legal career. This is something that can take a lot of time and effort for law students. Of course, it can also be difficult with competition for positions as a new graduate.

However, it is not going to be impossible to find your first job. There are things you can do to make yourself stand out. Here are some tips to ensure you do everything you can to land a legal position out of college.


Writing an Excellent Cover Letter

If you ask a student what the most critical part is when applying for a legal job, they will tell you it is the resume. There is no doubt that this is an essential element during the application. The resume will let law firms know more about you, your education, and the experience you have. Still, this does not mean that you should forget about the cover letter. 

In recent years, people will tell you that the cover letter has gone out of fashion and is not important. However, this is not true when you are applying for legal jobs. It still has an essential part to play, and it cannot be ignored in the legal profession. Remember that the cover letter is the first thing that most large law firms will see. This is before they can view your fantastic grades and all of the placements you have completed.

This is your opportunity to sell yourself and speak with the employer. You want them to take your application seriously.

How to Write a Cover Letter

If you have never written a cover letter before, you might be unsure how to start it. Well, the best way to begin is by telling them who you are. For example, they will want to know where you went to law school and confirm the job you want to apply for. In addition, if a connection suggested this job for you, make this clear in your opening sentence. Be direct and transparent to potential employers with the information.

Next, you want to make it clear that you desire to work for this law firm. You want to tell the employer why you are applying. Research the company and know some points about them. In addition, you can mention the direction of your own career and what you think you will bring to the table.

You want to write a unique and extremely detail-oriented cover letter for every law firm or organization you apply to. This will ensure that it is specific and so the employer knows you have not just copied and pasted the same speech. Of course, you can use a similar language for each application. But you want to ensure that there are unique details to give yourself the best chance of getting an interview. After all, if you are applying for an entry-level job in a criminal law firm, this will be very different than working as a legal assistant for an environmental organization.

Do not forget that your cover letter allows you to highlight and summarize why that organization or law firm should hire you. You know there will be competition with other new graduates for this spot, so this is your chance to stand out from the others.

Think about the skills you possess, as well as the practical experience you have.

An excellent way to end your cover letter is to say what you will do next. In other words, you want to tell the employer that you appreciate their time and that you wish to follow up on this application soon. This shows intention and will make sure that an employer responds to you.

Keeping a Resume Short

There is always a temptation to list everything you have ever done on a resume. However, a long resume is the most popular mistake that can put an employer off hiring you. You have to be specific and only have the correct details that the employer wants to know. After all, you want to show them how you are the best candidate for the job.

As a rule, make sure your resume is only one page long. We realize that this seems noticeably short, but there are ways to condense the information, making it easy to read and staying on point. For example, using bulleted paragraphs create a readable document. Make sure that there are no spelling errors or typos. It is recommended that education and legal experience is listed in reverse chronological order.

When it comes to formatting, you must be consistent. This will make it easy to read, as well as neat. Your resume reflects you. If you are printing out your resume, do this on white or cream paper. You also want it to match your cover letter. 

Deciding on the Information

Many people try to save time by using the same resume for every job they apply to. This is a mistake that they make during a job search. Remember that all legal jobs will be looking for different skills and experience. We know you want to tell the employer everything about you. But you want to keep it short and edit your resume specifically for every job you apply for.

To decide what information to include on every resume, examine the job specifications. Look for words that stand out, and demonstrate what type of candidate they are looking for. Then, look at your resume and see if you can highlight this through education, experience, and relevant skills. Remember that non-legal experience can be just as valuable if it reflects what type of candidate an employer is seeking.

Listing Education

Of course, your resume is about showing your education and what you have achieved. You will want to include the schools you have attended, as well as the degrees you have received. You also want to include some more details, such as the graduation date and the majors you studied. Your GPA and class rank can be good too.

Generally, high school information is not relevant on this type of resume. This is particularly true if it has been a while since you attended. Unless you went to a high school that an employer recognizes, you could skip including these details at all.

Your Interests and Hobbies

You are not a robot, and all you do is work. Remember to include your interests and hobbies on your resume. You are a real person, and you want to show that you have other passions outside of the law. In addition, employers can learn what type of person you are and whether you will fit in with the law firm or company culture. If you like to travel or are part of a sports team, include it on your resume. This does not have to be extensive but mentioning these interests and hobbies is beneficial.

Review Your Resume

Hopefully, you now have a resume that you are proud of. Of course, before you attach it to your cover letter and hit send, you must conduct a review of the resume. This is a vital part of the process that you cannot forget about. Indeed, it could make or break your application.

Make sure that you read through your resume several times before you send it. This will catch any grammatical or spelling errors. It also allows you to see if you have included all the information beneficial for that job position.

Prepare Your Writing Samples

A lot of legal applications now include writing samples. In other words, you will have to send in examples of your writing that demonstrate your ability and knowledge. Naturally, you want to choose your best work and samples to show your skills regarding the legal analysis. In particular, if you have a piece that is relevant to the position you are applying for, you want to choose this one.

 It is recommended that you choose a writing sample that is around five to 10 pages in length. This will give the employer a good idea of your skills. If you have written articles that are longer than this, you can cut them down and include the relevant areas that you like. This is something that you should tell the employer.

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