#The1Llife: The [Cover] Letter

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GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
1L at UCLA School of Law

THE [COVER] LETTER (Shout Out to Kehlani)

Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful vacation (or if you start late like me, are enjoying the last few days of non-law-school-reading bliss!).

In between waking up late and watching Netflix, you hopefully started preparing your materials for your job search.  Here at UCLAw, we host the Southern California Public Interest Career Day where all of the SoCal schools come to interview with over 150 nonprofits, firms, and government organizations focused on the public interest.  Thus, many 1Ls are scrambling to edit their resume and craft a cover letter. Here are a few tips for getting ready to apply to jobs!

DO: Start preparing early. One pass over your resume to add your new law school will not be enough. Highlight the experiences you’ve had that are relevant to the position to which you are applying, and please remove anything related to high school if you have not done so already.

DO: Tailor everything in your materials to the position. A stock cover letter is not going to pass muster under the eyes of people who have read thousands of applications.  Keep away from stock phrases as much as possible.

cover-letter-guide-2015-capilano-university-student-employment-services-12-638DO: Review your writing. As a 1L, your options are limited for what to use as a writing sample, unless you had previous legal writing experience. If you got feedback on a memo, incorporate it. Just because the memo has been turned in and graded does not mean you should submit it untouched. Tighten it up and even send it to your professor or advisor for another look. Most applications call for a sample no longer than 10 pages, so keep that in mind.

DO: Have someone else review your materials. Your mom or other non-law school loved one is probably not the best choice, however. Even if you have a peer look over your resume for formatting issues and grammatical errors, be sure your materials pass under other eyes before submitting.

DO: Keep your formatting consistent throughout your application. It may seem minute, but the format of your application helps to tell a coherent story about the applicant, a.k.a. you. Different spacing and fonts tells the reader that you didn’t spend enough time on it and that you’re a little scrambled.

DO:  Let your passion for the work shine! If the job is one you really want to do, be sure to make that clear in your cover letter. This is your first impression—make it count!

You’ll notice there are only DO’s on this list.  That’s because you should stay positive and be excited about your upcoming search!  Best of luck, and be sure to tweet me @The1Llife to talk applications, jobs, and other tips!

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