"I am looking for my first legal job..."

If this sounds like you... you're in the right place! 

Below you'll find some tips on how to draft your cover letters and CVs and how to go about approaching job applications. Jobs are far and few between in the current climate but there are still plenty of ways that you can enhance your CV... we've included some ideas below. Good luck!

drafting your cover letter...

you may also find the following helpful:

Your cover letter should:

  • demonstrate your knowledge of the law firm

  • explain why you want to work at the law firm 

  • showcase your skills and experience (without repeating the CV)

  • link your experience to the firm and job role 

  • be clear and concise 

  • be one page only!

The purpose of your cover letter is to provide some narrative and context around your CV. 

A cover letter is the bridge between your CV and the job i.e. why are the skills and experiences detailed on your CV relevant to the job you're apply for and why are you specifically applying to that firm for the job? 

STRUCTURE OF YOUR COVER LETTER

Introduction: 

  • This should be one small paragraph explaining the position you are applying for and (if relevant) how you found out about the role.

Middle: 

  • Explain what stage you're at in your career (i.e. whether you've just graduated etc) and what you can bring to the table with the skills and experience you've already developed/gained. 

  • Look at the job specification and link your experiences directly to that. 

Example: the job specification requires someone to 'deal with initial client enquiries' - therefore talk about your role as a retail assistant managing customer enquiries and how this required you to think on the spot and be solution focused. You could then refer to a particular example of helping a customer with their enquiry and what the result of that was.

 

  •  Explain why you want to work at that law firm specifically. What attracted you to the firm? Are there any particular cases or news items that led you to this firm? 

In the second paragraph of your 'middle' section, talk about the law firm itself and why you and the firm are a great fit! 

Consider the following to assist with this paragraph:

  • law firm's values - these are the fundamental beliefs upon which the business and culture of the firm are based so a good understanding of this demonstrates a commitment by you, to the firm. 

  • the sector and discipline you're applying for - are you apply for a property paralegal role in the social housing sector of the firm? If so, look at what cases the firm has recently been involved in and how strong the firm's presence is within that sector - this will help you emphasise that you are genuinely interested in the firm. 

27d7947c-0c24-42bd-bbd4-e4356efe91fc_edi
Law Student Life - how I got my first legal job!

In this ep, Kate shares how she secured her first legal job!​​

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Securing a paralegal job whilst studying!

In this ep, Georgia shares how she secured her paralegal job & how to balance work with the LPC!

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Adapting your CV to a legal discipline!

Found a property paralegal role but not quite sure what property lawyers do? Check out our WDLD portal!

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How do I show genuine interest in the firm?!

You're doing 10 cover letters, how do you sound genuine in every one? Check our law firm research advice!

End:

  • Finish the cover letter with informing the reader that you have enclosed your CV, availability for interview (if applicable) and that you look forward to hearing from them. 

DON'T FORGET:

Written communication skills are fundamental to the role of a lawyer and your cover letter is your first opportunity to showcase your abilities to the firm. Therefore: 

  • make sure there are no typos or formatting errors

  • keep it clear and concise (make sure every sentence and paragraph serves a purpose - do not waffle)

  • use examples wherever possible

  • get someone to proof read it before you send it!

.

drafting your CV...

The same style and drafting points set out above for cover letters also apply to drafting your CV. The main difference is usually a CV is less detailed (re experiences) and is around 2 pages long. 

STRUCTURE OF YOUR CV

Personal Details 

  • At the top of your CV, include your name (as the heading), address, telephone number and email address. 

Education & Qualifications 

  • This is pretty self-explanatory. Don't waste too much space on this section if you have lots of experience to jot down. I.e. you could put "10 G.C.S.E's A* - C (including Maths and English)" as opposed to actually setting out every single subject and grade (if you're apply for a TC with your CV.  

Work Experience 

  • Detail your work experience in chronological order. Identify the company, your role and dates you worked from and to. Example: 

 

 

If you worked at the same place but held different roles, set out each role as a different experience. Example: 

  • If you have both legal and non-legal work experience, categorise your work experience accordingly i.e. have a heading called 'Legal Work Experience' and set out the different legal roles and experiences you've had and then include 'Commercial Work Experience' and set out your other roles including part time jobs you've had. 

  • When describing your role for each position, emphasise your responsibilities and why these will make you a good lawyer and include as many results as you can. 

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Example: if you reviewed 100 leases for a project, don't just write 'reviewing leases'. instead, add what the end result of that project was i.e. as a result of you reviewing and reporting on these 100 leases, the client was able to use the data to streamline service charges and ground rent payments. There is always an end result of work that you do. 

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  • If you do not have any legal work experience to put on your CV, emphasise your commercial employment/experience/volunteer work instead. 

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Example: 

if you had a part time job in a call centre or in retail, you can talk about:

  • developing customer relationships - think about times that you've gone the extra mile for a customer or client and what the outcome of you going the extra mile was. Did a customer approach you with a complaint or query and were they satisfied with your response to the situation? 

  • understanding the structure of a business and its marketing position - who are your company's main competitors and how does your company react to that? How does your role help facilitate your business?

  • working in a team - almost every part time job you can have through university will require some form of team work. Did you have team targets? Did you cover each others' leave from work? 

  • committing to the role - if you're balancing a part time job with study, that shows real commitment to your role and studies. The employer may see you as a good investment as you have demonstrated loyalty to your part time role. It also demonstrates an ability to prioritise and good organisation skills. 

  • any progression and leadership 

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There are so many transferable skills in non-legal work so emphasise this! If you set out what you've done in your CV, you can provide context around these examples in your cover letter and how these examples directly relate to the job specification you're applying for. 

Skills

  • A separate 'skills' section isn't always necessary. However, if you don't have a great amount of experience to put on your CV, setting out specific skills is a great CV filler! 

  • Perhaps during lockdown you've developed on your existing skills and/or learnt some new ones through online courses. All this can go in the skills section!

Example:

Education & Qualifications:

University of Birmingham (2015 - 2019)

LLB (Hons) Law 2:1

Matthew Lewis College (2013 - 2015)

4 A Levels: History (A), Business (B), Geography (A) and Economics (B) 

Cambridge Secondary School (2009 - 2013)

10 G.C.S.E's A* - C (including Maths (A) and English (A))

Elle Woods LLP​

Legal Assistant 

January 2019 - Present 

Elle Woods LLP​

Legal Assistant 

January 2019 - Present

  • [Detail experience]

 

Elle Woods LLP​

Administrator  

March 2017 - December 2018

  • [Detail experience]

Activities and Interests 

  • As tempting as it is, don't be boring here! Be genuine. The firm want to see what you're like socially and have a better understanding of your character. 

    • Are you part of a sports team? Add details here. Even if you're not part of a formal team but you play tennis at your local tennis court, you can still include this as it is a hobby of yours.

    • Are you involved in any non-work related organisations i.e. volunteering, project coordinating, blogger, vlogger, writer? Anything like this can be added to your hobbies and interests!

    • Have you won any awards or received any recognitions? Include them! 

 

The firm want to work out if you're a good fit for them and their team. 

Remember, a big part of the role of a solicitor/barrister is the ability to network and win new work. Therefore, being a sociable confident character will only work in your favour!