Writing The Perfect Training Contract Covering Letter
Getting the covering letter right on your training contract application is very important. Since getting a training contract is so competitive your letter really does need to be exceptional.
Here we will give you some top tips on writing your cover letter in a way which answers (in our opinion) the most important question a law firm could pose – “why should we hire you?”
Cover letter example
This example of a training contract cover letter is just to give you a rough idea of the layout – don’t use it as a template! Use the advice above to create your own. You must tailor it to each firm you apply to.
Remember to check out our law CV template page. Having a good cover letter but a poor CV is a little pointless! Don’t make any silly mistakes.
Dear [Sir/Madam/Name if you know it],
I am a [insert your current role or previous eduction e.g – Paralegal at firm x or recent graduate of university y]. I would like to put myself forward as a candidate for the [name of role] starting in [date].
During my undergraduate course at [University], I studied [Brief description of course and grades]. [Explain some of the key skills gained e.g the ability to think critically, understand complex information and create sound logical arguments]
Since finishing my studies I have attempted to gain relevant legal experience. I have had the opportunity to undertake work experience in [relevant work experience], which confirmed my desire to go into the legal sector. Furthermore I have gained much knowledge while [further work experience], [state valuable experience gained]. I have also gained a range of practical knowledge while working for [other non legal work experience] where I [description of duties].
From my experience of the academic side of law, interaction with clients, and the practical application of the law, I can confidently say that I am looking forward to a full time career in the legal sector, and with the help of [firm name], becoming [role]. I would be very enthusiastic about working in [location] having lived relatively close to the city for the majority of my life and frequently visiting the city’s many attractions. It is important to me to work in a location where I feel a strong connection in order to genuinely feel like I’m helping my local community with the work I do, rather than just working for the sake of payment. This, along with [state reasons you want to join the firm e.g – international opportunities] is what has attracted me to [firm name].
My biggest interests and hobbies revolve around [interests]. I have been [further description of interest]. [Another description of interest]. Also I [university or legal based interest – e.g mooting]
Thank you for taking the time to read my application, I look forward to hearing from you soon. I have attached my CV for your consideration.
What should be in a cover letter?
To answer the above question you need to create a sound argument about why the firm should hire you. What should make up the bulk of your argument? Evidence. The following will count as good evidence in your argument.
- Academics / qualifications
- Work experience
- Extra curricular activity
- Contextual evidence from the letter as a whole (e.g it could be obvious that the candidate is very motivated and has a real passion for the law)
The academics and references will be mentioned on your CV or other part of your application, but it’s good to briefly draw attention to them again. The work experience, extra curricular activities and “contextual evidence” is what you should do your best to put across.
Set work experience out in a simple but logical way. State the role, where it was at, the skills you gained, and what use you think it is to the firm. This last point is important. If it’s not of use, don’t put it down. However experience doesn’t need to be legal based. Working in a restaurant could be valuable experience if you needed to resolve conflict with customers, work under pressure, and multi task. The key point is to explain why something is useful, even if it seems self evident.
Within the cover letter you should also state why you want to work in law. This is the contextual evidence. You need to show a passion or strong interest for working in the legal sector. This can be shown by the work experience but also your extra curricular activities like being a member of the debating or mooting team.
Explain these activities in a similar way you explained the work experience – what was it, what skills did you gain, and how are they useful? Next you need to round that off by simply (and genuinely) stating why you want to go into law and why you want to work for the firm. This bit won’t be based on any “hard” evidence, just your own words. So try not to sound insincere and truthfully state what attracted you to the law, and the particular law firm you’re applying to.
Try to do this by matching up personality traits or interests; e.g. “[Law firm X] values [personality trait Y] and so do I as shown by [work experience Z]” or “Law needs you to be [trait X], I’ve always had a keen interest in this for as long as I can remember, for example when [anecdotal evidence].” So you can still refer back to your work experience but still try and put a personal spin on it by reference to your own experience, dreams or ambitions.
Don’t give the recruiters reasons not to hire you. Your grammar, spelling, punctuation and layout should be perfect. Plan our your cover letter before writing, and when you’re done proof read it several times. Make sure you have a big break between proof reads (preferably a day); coming back to your letter fresh may let you see something you previously missed.
There are many other ways to structure the covering letter which are fine too. As long as it flows in a logical way. Don’t talk about work experience, then university, then your other work experience. Just answer the questions set out above in a coherent and eloquent way. And don’t go over the top by writing thousands of words! Do you really think having to read that much would put the recruiter in a good frame of mind? Keep it simple. Oh and one last tip – get as many people to read through it as you can. They may spot something that you missed. Good luck!