Things No One Tells You about Cover Letters |

Things No One Tells You about Cover Letters


Print/Download PDF

Font Size

Rate this article

44 Reviews Average: 4.7 out of 5

1. Should you address your cover letter to a specific person and username? Or should you use a general citation?
Yes, you should always address your cover letter to a specific person. So the people that you can address cover letters to typically, what I recommend is calling the firm and asking who you can send your cover letter to if you don't have the name of the person. And that can be very helpful. If it's a small law firm, you want to send it to one of the named partners, typically the one who has the first name listed. It's the same thing with every firm. Every firm needs to have a person that you're addressing your cover letter to. If you're not addressing your cover letter to a specific person, then that's a real problem. You just don't want to do that.

Some companies and law firms may tell you to just send it to recruiting. But you're actually better off sending it to a person. And typically, sending it to one of the more important people in the firm is crucial. One thing I want you to remember—I know I've said this in several posts—you always want to make sure that you're sending your cover letter in a printed format as well as email. You should address your cover letter to a specific person in that one, as well.
2. Is there a service that can write your cover letters for you to all the places you want to submit them to? I don't have the time. Would you recommend using a service like this?
You can use a service that does this. But I think a cover letter is very personal. So the more personal connection you can find with firms, the better off you're going to be. And the more you can tailor it, the better it is. Remember, every law firm receives hundreds of applications from law students. And when they have openings, they typically receive a lot.

If you just want to do a mass mailing of law firms, what I'd recommend if you don't have the time to personalize it or any of them, is you need to think about exactly what it is in your background that will make your cover letter stand out. So, an example would be, if you've worked with children and children's rights, there's a whole branch of law that deals with that. Then, you find every law firm around the country that does that type of work and send them a letter and tell them you're interested in children's rights.

I worked with a girl once at a company called Legal Authority, which is a resume mailing service. But they're not going to super personalize all of your letters the way I'm talking about. I remember one time I was talking to a girl in Florida. And this is after the company had been in business for 10 or 12 years. I didn't do the calls very often. We had other people who did them back then. I still don't, but the woman had gotten a degree in education law or something like an LLM.

She said everybody from her firm could use this Legal Authority company, and all they did is exactly something you can do yourself. So I'm definitely not trying to sell you on using an outside service because you can do it yourself. You're probably better off if you personalize things yourself. But if you don't have time, you can use Legal Authority.

So everybody who graduated from this LLM program at Fordham Education Law had always used the Legal Authority service and gotten jobs. So all that this Legal Authority service did was it sent a mail to all the firms—there were not many firms that did education law. So she did a mailing to 300 education law firms and got several jobs because it was focused.

There are not many people who have an interest in education. I don't know if it was 300 or 800 firms or how many. But if you have an interest in a specific practice area or if you have something specific in your background, or you have a specific connection to an area, you should be contacting most of the employers in that area, and that will help you get a job. If you don't have the time, just try to make your cover letters as focused as you possibly can.
3. How do I find out who will be opening to read my cover letter? Would you recommend that finally talking about a connection is an individual connection in the firm?
If you really want to work someplace, I would recommend calling the firm and finding out who is in charge of recruiting and who you should send your resume to. If you already know who that person is, call that person and chat with them and tell them your name, and tell them you're sending a resume, and that sort of thing. That can actually be helpful and then also using the name of the partner as well. There are some more questions there if you don't have that person.
4. Should I highlight my accomplishments in my cover letter? Or would that seem like I'm making it all about me?
Your accomplishments can be listed on your resume. And you want to highlight not your accomplishments, but your interest in a practice area or your interest in the firm. So that's a very good question. You're saying, How should I hide my accomplishments in my cover letter? Or would it seem like it was all about me? It does make it all about you when you're talking only about your accomplishments. Instead, you need to highlight how whatever you're interested in matches with what the employer does. So it could be about a practice area. It could be about a connection or something like that.
5. You mentioned in the last session that we could individually have materials reviewed by you, what's the best way to send the materials?
I will send everyone on the call and remember this call, I'll have an email sent to you after this call, and you can send that, and I will review your materials with you and send you a short little video, or maybe it'll be longer, depending on your materials, talking about your resume and cover letter, and also reviewing your resume, and I'll give you my feedback.

I can also have someone else talk to you from our company about it as well after I review it, and I'm happy to do so. I certainly appreciate that question and apologize. We didn't receive that last week. So thank you, everyone, for being on the call. I know this was a long call, but it was a very important topic. And I really hope that everyone listens to this advice because it's going to make a huge difference in your career if you're able to make a connection with your cover letter.

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

AGREE/DISAGREE? SHARE COMMENTS ANONYMOUSLY! We Want to Hear Your Thoughts! Tell Us What You Think!!

Related Articles

We've changed thousands of lives over the past 20 years, and yours could be next.

When you use BCG Attorney Search you will get an unfair advantage because you will use the best legal placement company in the world for finding permanent law firm positions.