A Stunning Paralegal Cover Letter Demystified
A Great Career Starts with a Great Paralegal Cover Letter
A career as a paralegal is a great way to get started in the legal profession, and if you are interested in pursuing this job then a brilliant paralegal cover letter can make it happen for you. A paralegal position is a job working for a law firm or legal department helping the attorneys to prepare and represent their clientís legal interests. For many people, itís the first step in a legal career that goes on to becoming an attorney. As an intermediate position, it is a good one. The pay scale is very generous, compared to other office and clerical jobs out there and there are many opportunities to learn more about the field of law. For others, the paralegal is the career itself.
For these professional paralegals, the paralegal cover letter lands them a job which offers a reasonable salary, interesting work and the opportunity to learn skills which make them very valuable to their firm.
The job of a paralegal can be very broad and expansive. The general function of the paralegal is to assist the attorneys in every way that allows them to use their skills and time only on the matters that require their legal expertise. Generally, for beginning paralegals especially, this means that a paralegal will spend much of his or her time managing documents.
Each legal case and matter generates box after box of documents, each one of which must be copied and sent to various entities, must be checked for quality and must be checked to see that no privileged or secret information is in those documents. Though most law firms and legal departments hire copying services to do the bulk of the copying itself, the paralegals that work a the firm must oversee and review the process to make sure it is done correctly. In practice this means that paralegals spend a lot of time redacting, or covering up privileged information with white tape before making a copy and Bates stamping. Bates stamping is affixing or stamping numbers to each document so that each piece of paper can be accounted for.
The Exciting Life of the Paralegal
Additionally, it is not unheard of for paralegals to spend hours and days with a pencil eraser, flicking and turning each page of a copied stack to make sure that every page in the series is present in the set of copies.
Over time, however, the paralegalís duties can become more and more sophisticated. They, for instance, often conduct background legal research for the attorneys. To do this research they often become experts in legal research software and services like Lexis-Nexis as well as other reference and legal material as they comb through it on the behest of their attorneys.
Over much time, as the paralegal becomes more proficient and trusted, they may become responsible for writing first drafts of legal documents for the attorneys. When this occurs, the paralegals can become almost like attorneys themselves in terms of expertise and skill in their subject matter.
So When You Write the Cover LetterÖ.
Bearing these duties in mind helps the candidate write an effective paralegal cover letter. In a paralegal cover letter, as in all cover letters, the main aim is to create a powerful and logical case that the candidate is the best possible solution to the business problem that the hiring target faces.
In the case of a paralegal cover letter, the primary business problem that the target law firm or legal department faces is simple: They require a intelligent, conscientious, self-motivated, meticulous, communicative, hardworking paralegal who will free up the attorneyís time to do the legal thinking and writing that they are paid by the client to do. Consequently, each line and word of the paralegal cover letter needs to be working towards convincing the reader that the letter writer is exactly that person.
Luckily, a well-written paralegal cover letter can go a long way to making that case clear. A well-written cover letter speaks volumes about the candidateís writing and communication skills, for starters. Additionally, it allows the candidate to list the sorts of experience and attributes that make him or her such a valuable business solution. Whatís more important, the cover letter lets the candidate put those skills and attributes into some sort of context in a way that a simple list of bullet points on a resume cannot do.
Start Off with a Bang, Metaphorically
To start off a strong and interview landing paralegal cover letter, the writer needs to start with a beginning that will grab and hold the readerís attention. Though many cover letter writers have tried cutesy methods of doing this, a tried and true method that canít fail is the simple and bold headline. In all caps, start the letter with something like: METICULOUS PARALEGAL IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE.
Second, move into defining the problem that you promise to solve for the target company. Doing this makes you a front-runner, because it proves that you know the company and its challenges inside and out. For a paralegal cover letter, a great opening line might include something like "in a closely contested court case, the possession of all the relevant information can make the difference between a clientís victory and defeat. For that reason, itís a matter of supreme importance that each document in a case is handled with the precision and care that ensures it is where it is needed, when it is needed."
Once youíve established that you understand the problem, you present the solution --- yourself! In this section of the paralegal cover letter you describe how you have met and conquered similar challenges in your career, and make the case that you are exactly the right person to meet and conquer the challenge the target firm faces as well. To accomplish this, and make this case you can use any attributes or characteristics that you think are appropriate. You might want to, for example, write about your college degree, your extra training, your clerical skills or even your desire to make a career in the field of law. Nothing you say, however, will have quite the same effect of simply stating the similar problems that you have solved for clients in the past.
Now, itís very common for a paralegal position to be the first position that a college graduate takes, and to use it as a way to gain experience in the legal field while applying for law school. In that case, the paralegal cover letter should emphasize similar if not exactly identical experience that he or she has had. Above all, experience meeting and solving goals related to paying attention to details is key. Just as important is working harmoniously with others to meet tough deadlines. Perhaps youíve had some summer jobs or a work-study position at the school that highlight these qualities. If so, include them in the cover letter. Donít assume that simply putting them on the resume without any sort of frame of reference or explanation of what makes this experience so relevant will be convincing to the reader.
Now Show Some Enthusiasm
Once you have established your fitness for the position, the next step is to establish your enthusiasm for it. A lot of the paralegalís day is spent in what is often called Ďgrunt work" and the law firm or legal department wants to hire someone who will bring enthusiasm to the job. So a passion paragraph which explains why you want to work as a paralegal and what challenges you find satisfying in the position can raise you above your competitors.
Lastly, the paralegal cover letter should instruct the reader in what he or she needs to do to bring the candidate in for the next step of the hiring process. In most cases this is very simply to pick up the phone and call the candidate in for an interview. If that is the way that you want to be contacted, then come on out and ask for that. Donít ever assume that the reader knows what to do without being told.
Because the paralegal cover letter will be read by professional writers and communicators its especially important that it be well written and edited before it goes out. For that reason, itís a good idea to print it out and read it out loud a couple of times before you send it to its destination.
Are there areas where the language seems unnatural and awkward? Are there any logical connections that donít quite connect? Is the grammar perfect and casual? The effect that you are going for with your letter is that of an informal, clear, direct intelligent conversation with the reader.
Once youíve given it an edit, itís often a good idea to let it sit for a couple of hours before approaching it again for a last read through, out loud. If it checks out then, feel free to send it with the confidence that it will be one of the best-written paralegal cover letters that the reader receives all year.
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