A legal assistant—also known as a paralegal—provides services in legal research, document drafting, case management, correspondence, and all manner of administrative support.
When applying for a Legal Assistant position, understand that your cover letter is a key opportunity to demonstrate two core competencies: writing and advocacy. (If you cannot make a good case for yourself, how can the reader trust that you’ll be effective in advocating their causes?) Yes, a basic cover letter template will increase your efficiency in preparing applications for Legal Assistant jobs, but your customization for each potential employer will set you apart from the competition.
Basic Requirements for a Legal Assistant
Qualifying for a Legal Assistant position requires you to demonstrate relevant education, legal knowledge, and experience.
Traditionally, the most valuable education is a paralegal associate’s degree from a well-respected institution. Subject-matter expertise that’s relevant to an employer’s industry will also help differentiate you from the rest. Beyond these educational achievements, employers will want to see what you’ve learned on the job.
A Legal Assistant performs many basic functions that require legal knowledge, but are done more cost-effectively than when completed by a lawyer. Consequently, a Legal Assistant must be highly knowledgeable about legal systems and procedures. This background allows them to efficiently manage casework, prepare effective documents, and organize day-to-day activities.
Successful Legal Assistants are excellent communicators. Show these skills in your application materials, and indicate what you have done to cultivate your communications capabilities. This applies not just to interpersonal communications, but also to the technology that facilitates effective communications.
Last, show that you understand the importance of attention to detail. Lawyers need to trust that their Legal Assistant will pore over all relevant case matters to prevent unhappy “surprises” with cases, clients, and courts.
Applying for a Legal Assistant Job? A Few Tips
- Keep your cover letter focused and succinct (1-2 pages)
- Differentiate yourself! Make a clear and compelling representation of your best skills
- Be accurate and truthful at all times
- Show enthusiasm for the opportunity
- Use meaningful details to bring your accomplishments to life
- Misrepresent your capabilities
- Get bogged down in details about your background or job history
- Apologize for capabilities you lack
- Waste the reader’s time
- Try to “shoehorn” yourself into a position that clearly is not a good fit for your skill set and experience
Legal Assistant Traits an Employer Typically Seeks
- Legal research skills
- Communications skills
- Organizational skills
- Grace under pressure
- Discretion with client matters
How Is This Different from a Legal Secretary Cover Letter?
Legal Assistant cover letters must highlight familiarity with legal principles, legal research capabilities, case-management capabilities, administrative skills, and experience in managing professional interaction with clients and legal organizations.
In contrast, cover letters for Legal Secretary positions must demonstrate expertise in correspondence, document preparation, and related skills for supporting a lawyer’s day-to-day responsibilities.
What Someone Applying for a Legal Assistant Job Should Keep in Mind
Again, study each opportunity—and customize your cover letter to specifically address each employer’s stated needs. Speak their language—repeating the terminology used in their websites, brochures, and the position description itself. This mindset also will help you in highlighting those aspects of your experience that are most relevant to the employer’s situation. Demonstrate leadership, self-motivation, and your history as a productive member of a high-functioning team. Make it easy for an employer to sense that you are the candidate who would fit right in.
Not sure where to start with your cover letter? We’ve provided the attached template for a Legal Assistant Cover Letter to help you get started. Remember to customize this for each application you submit. Good luck!
If you’re looking for a Legal Secretary position—we can help you craft a cover letter for that position as well! Check out that blog post here.