How to Write a Paralegal Analyst Cover Letter
A paralegal is an assistant who works with attorneys and lawyers in a law firm.
There are many types of paralegal roles and the work is usually highly skilled with experienced paralegals carrying out legal work under the supervision of a qualified lawyer.
Some work that a paralegal will be responsible for will be administrative work, such as preparing documents and correspondence. Paralegals often carry out a vast amount of legal research and are often aiming to go to law school, although this is not and does not have to be the case.
What Is a Paralegal Cover Letter?
Recruiters and hiring decision-makers are adept at spotting original cover letters. It is usual for firms to receive a huge number more applications for a role than they can hope to interview, and usually with similar basic qualifications on their resumes.
The cover letter is your opportunity to stand out, for the right reasons.
If you think of your resume as the structure of your application, the cover letter allows you to add detail and signpost some of your stand out qualities, expanding on the value that you can bring to the firm.
An effective paralegal cover letter must strike the right balance between showcasing knowledge and terminology that matches the job description, without peppering the entire letter with irrelevant and uninspiring buzzwords.
You could view a paralegal cover letter as an opportunity to showcase your attention to detail and effectiveness at persuading your case.
What Should a Great Paralegal Cover Letter Include?
Your ideal paralegal cover letter should be a concise one-page document, split into paragraphs (which we look at in more detail below).
Overall, your cover letter should:
- Set out your specific experience and accomplishments, and cover all the requirements listed in the job description
- Detail why you consider yourself the right fit for the role
- Demonstrate your knowledge of and excitement for the company and role
Depending on the role, you may also include details of:
- Academic qualifications
- Career goals and personal development aspirations
You do not need specific academic qualifications to work as a paralegal, although there are colleges where you can study for an ABA-approved paralegal education program degree.
You will want to cover the following competencies, although this will of course differ depending on the precise requirements of your role:
- Attention to detail
- Fast worker capable of working under pressure
- Critical thinker
- Good at communication
- Capable of seeing the bigger picture
- Technically savvy
- A good understanding of finance and business
- Legal awareness
- Strategic thinker
- Works effectively as part of a team
- An understanding of customer relations
- Commercial awareness
How Might Cover Letters Vary for Different Legal Roles?
‘Paralegal’ is often used as a catch-all phrase that covers a variety of administrative roles in a law firm.
Depending on the size of the firm, a paralegal might be anything upwards of a school leaver on a first internship, right the way through to a highly skilled fee earner managing a team and working alongside qualified lawyers.
If you are applying for paralegal roles straight after college, you should consider what kind of paralegal role you are looking for.
Roles might include:
Law Firm Intern
A law firm internship or apprenticeship varies from firm to firm but may last from two weeks in a vacation, up to a year in length. Internships are usually aimed at those currently enrolled on a degree course.
Law firm internships are often advertised by larger firms.
A law firm intern cover letter should focus on your degree qualifications and your proposed legal career path.
Legal secretaries carry out administrative tasks to assist the attorneys in the department.
They might work for an individual or in a pool, and carry out tasks such as arranging meetings, typing documents and correspondence that has been prepared by a lawyer, managing mail, scanning and filing documents, taking messages from clients, and so on.
This can lead to a more permanent paralegal role, and some legal secretaries are career PAs.
Legal secretary roles can provide good resume experience if you are looking to become a lawyer, but they do not always offer the most hands-on legal experience.
A legal secretary cover letter should focus on your administrative skills and previous work experience in a support role.
If you are planning to eventually sit the bar exam and become a lawyer, a legal assistant role provides a more solid basis from which to apply to law school.
You may help the attorney to which you are assigned prepare for trials or work on documentation and research.
A legal assistant cover letter should focus on your research skills, legal knowledge and previous work experience.
This can be a slightly different role, in that you help with the legal work.
For example, a litigation paralegal in the early stages of a case would help prepare documentation, catalog evidence for disclosure and help with the administrative parts of working in a litigation team.
Again this type of work is good resume experience for those who wish to continue their career path to becoming a lawyer.
How to Write Your Paralegal Cover Letter
You can make or break your application for a paralegal role in the first sentence, as that is, on average, how long you have the attention of the hiring manager.
Don’t give them a reason to stop reading.
Start your letter off on the right track by identifying who specifically to write your cover letter to and using the correct pronoun.
Law firms are typically more formal or traditional than other businesses, although this is not always the case.
Your first paragraph should set out the role you are applying for, introduce yourself, and give a basic outline as to your relevant qualifications or experience for the role.
You might say:
Dear Mr Farland
Having spent the summer interning at xyc and then the past year working in XYC’s litigation finance team as a paralegal assistant, I believe I have the experience you are looking for in your search for a litigation paralegal.
In the second paragraph, you should mirror the job description in terms of setting how you are a good fit for the role.
This might include specific experience, including your law school, depending on the role.
You may also want to include a sentence to show you are deliberately making your application to this law firm, rather than just sending cut and paste letters to all recruiters.
An example might be:
The expansion of your litigation department caught my eye because I know that you’re representing an increasing number of claimants in high profile class actions. This appeals to me as I am passionate about ending child poverty due to toxic spills in this State. I have both claimant and defendant experience having spent two years assisting [big firm] in the litigation defense team, in which I gained experience preparing documents to prepare pleadings, propounding and responding to discovery, preparing and sitting for depositions, and preparing trial documents.
The third paragraph is where you set out your skills and experience more fully, as well as referencing the key competencies listed on the job description.
You might also find it appropriate to mention academic qualifications and voluntary work.
You can either write a paragraph or, if the points you wish to make are more extensive, you may find a bullet point list is more appropriate.
You might say:
I am confident in dealing with clients as I was the first point of contact in the litigation team at Smith Tucker and Field, where I then prioritized enquiries, prepared draft documents, including deposition notices and trial documentation, as well as carrying out extensive research. I am familiar with both Westlaw and LexisNexis as well as multiple case management systems. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and hold a LexisNexis Paralegal Student Certificate.
The next paragraph should return to the work of the firm or the future prospects of the business, and how you see yourself fitting into that.
You could say something like:
I am now ready to bring my experience to a position with more responsibility. With data regulations set to double in 2021, it is no surprise that [firm name] must rapidly expand, yet also faces the challenge of complying with current work-at-home directives. I am a paralegal manager who can hit the ground at speed. My time at XYZ was in a fast-paced work environment with a team of six junior paralegals who I managed from a remote office. Under my guidance, the billing hours remained above target and efficiency did not falter.
Bring the letter to a close with a call to action.
Try to avoid cliches whilst concluding the letter formally with your name and contact details.
You could try:
I would be pleased for the opportunity to discuss how I can contribute to the defense team at Big Business. I can be contacted at [number] or by email.
Paralegal Cover Letter Top Tips
Demonstrate Your Attention to Detail
A key facet of paralegal work is being able to generate accurate work quickly and efficiently – which means having keen attention to detail.
Demonstrate this with your cover letter:
- Ensure that your font and spacings are all equal and balanced
- Choose an appropriately formal font and match this with your resume
- Spell check, grammar check and then have a friend proofread – make sure that there are no errors
Match Your Formality to the Law Firm
Business communication has become less formal, but law firms still often fall into the more traditional category.
Check out the firm’s website and social media coverage to get a read on how to best address your cover letter.
If in doubt, err on the side of formality when making applications for jobs at law firms.
Remember You Are Writing to a Person as Well as the Firm
When you address your letter to someone specific, see what you can find out about them, even just from the firm’s website or their LinkedIn profile.
Everyone thrives on human connection, particularly as if the letter goes as planned, you may be working with them.
Find out if they have a specific interest and see whether you can include an example that may also resonate with them. Maybe they run the firm’s pro bono work, for example, or the baseball club.
Don’t force the connection, but it’s always nice to bring a human touch.
Don’t Forget Your Transferable Skills
Some paralegal roles call for experienced professional career paralegals but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply with no workplace experience.
Even if you’re fresh out of law school, you can highlight your transferable skills in your application.
You should have plenty of things to draw on which demonstrate how valuable your skills can be.
Your transferable skills might include:
- Time management
- Attention to detail
- Legal knowledge
- Other specialist knowledge, such as business or sociology
Any moots, debates, mock trials, pro bono work or even other jobs that you might have done could all throw up a transferable skill.
Be Specific With Your Examples
Don’t just say that you did something, outline the result – and use relevant words that show your experience.
Don’t just mention 'litigation documents', perhaps mention specific keywords such as ‘deposition notices’ and ‘subpoenas’.
Example Paralegal Cover Letter
Dear Mr Farland
Having spent three years assisting [big firm] in the litigation defense team as a paralegal assistant, I believe I have the experience you are looking for in your search for a litigation paralegal manager.
The expansion of your litigation department caught my eye because I know that you’re representing an increasing number of claimants in high profile class actions. This appeals to me as I am passionate about ending child poverty due to toxic spills in this State. My time at [big firm] gave me experience preparing documents to prepare pleadings, propounding and responding to discovery, preparing and sitting for depositions, and preparing trial documents.
I am well-versed in preparing draft documents, including deposition notices and trial documentation, as well as carrying out extensive research. In my first year, I created a new system for processing claimant records and claims, both to prevent missed deadlines and increase information accessibility. Billable hours increased by five hours per week per fee earner as a result.
I hold a LexisNexis Paralegal Student Certificate and in my second year at [big firm] I managed a team of paralegals carrying out extensive research. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and am familiar with both Westlaw and LexisNexis, as well as multiple case management systems.
I am now ready to bring my experience to a position with more responsibility. With class action regulations and new laws in force for 2021, it is no surprise that [firm name] must rapidly expand and expects to double its annual workload. I also understand the challenge of complying with current work-at-home directives as I have spent the last six months managing a team of four paralegals and two legal secretaries from a remote office.
I am a paralegal manager who can hit the ground at speed. Under my guidance, the billing hours remained above target, efficiency did not falter and team morale remained high.
I would be pleased for the opportunity to discuss how I can contribute to the defense team at [name of firm]. I can be contacted at [number] or by email.
Remember that there will be fierce competition for a job at a law firm, no matter what level of role you are applying for.
You will need to be a stand-out candidate so it is worth spending time carefully crafting your cover letter to sell your skills.
It is well worth spending extra time demonstrating your attention to detail and fine-tuning your words.
Finally, double-check that there are no spelling or grammatical errors and that everything can be backed up by your resume and references.