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Cover Letters and Other Documents

This section contains information about cover letters and correspondence. It is very important to think of all of your professional correspondence as a writing or work sample for a potential employer or networking contact. Your correspondence conveys a message about how you will interact with clients, colleagues, and others. The materials here will give you information about how to put your best foot forward in your correspondence, and how to avoid common mistakes you may not be aware you are making.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my cover letter need to be so short?

Simply put, a long cover letter will not be read and you will have wasted your time. A cover letter that is thoughtfully crafted need not be long in order to hit on the important points. Remember that the purpose of the cover letter is to get the reader to want to read your resume, not to restate your resume in a different format.

Can I make one generic cover letter that I use for every job I apply to?

Not really. You can make a cover letter that you can use as a base letter that you can build upon for every position you apply for, but each cover letter should be (to the extent possible) tailored for a particular position.

I received an email that is very informal in tone. Can my reply also be informal?

No. You should keep your correspondence professional in tone even if the person you are writing to does not. Remember that particularly with email correspondence you never know to whom your email may be forwarded.

I have to draft a quick email reply to someone. Is there anyone who can look it over before I send it

Absolutely! While we require advance warning to review big documents like cover letters, we are happy to do a quick turnaround on short emails. Just send a copy of the email chain along with your draft reply to gpdp@law.fordham.edu and we'll let you know as quickly as possible whether any changes are advisable.

How long should I wait before responding to an email?

Email responses are expected to come faster and faster these days. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't let an email sit for more than 24 hours without replying. If you need more time to gather information for your reply, write back within 24 hours to acknowledge the email and let the other person know your time frame for getting them the information they need (then stick to that time frame, or follow up again if necessary).

Other Documents

The information here addresses the following types of documents, which may be requested from time to time by a prospective employer: transcripts, writing samples, lists of references, letters of recommendation, and transaction lists. These documents will play an important role in providing a well-rounded picture of your candidacy for an employer, so these documents should be handled with the same level of care you take with your resumes and cover letters. If an employer requests a type of document not addressed here, you should always feel free to contact us at gpdp@law.fordham.edu for advising.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to give an official transcript when asked by an employer?

No, unless an employer specifically asks for an official transcript, you can assume they want an unofficial transcript.

What is a transaction list and do I need one?

If you have extensive experience working in corporate transactions, especially M&A, Capital Markets, and Project Finance, you may wish to compile a transaction list that includes details about transactions you have worked on. Be sure to protect confidential information where applicable.

What should I use for a writing sample?

Most people use the memo they will write for the legal writing class required of all foreign-trained LLM students. Generally speaking, a practice-oriented writing sample is better than an academic research paper.

Contact

Graduate Professional Development Program
Fordham University School of Law 150 West 62nd Street, Suite 8-131, New York, NY 10023

Email: gpdp@law.fordham.edu