Of course, the suggestions in this chapter represent just one way of doing things. However, they represent some tried-and-true methods that have worked for many attorneys.
In order to properly illustrate the methods involved in personalizing and customizing your resume and cover letter, we will consider the fictional case of Myron Mohammed. The firms and law schools used in this case are also fictional, and any similarity to real firms or schools is unintentional.
The Story of Myron
Myron Mohammed was born in the United Arab Emirates, but moved to the United States at a young age. He attended high school in Los Angeles, scoring slightly above average in all his classes. During his last year of high school, one of his teachers turned him onto the field of criminology, and he decided to make that his major in college, with the goal of eventually going into criminal law. He attended Gudger College, a school in Baltimore, MD, specializing in political science. During his time there, he began to lose interest in his major, but completed his degree for lack of anything better to do. His grades were once again slightly above average.
After school, Myron went to work in criminology, finding a job with a private detective agency in Richmond, VA. He did not like his job, however, further reinforcing his desire to find something outside of criminology.
During his time in Richmond, Myron took several trips outside the city into the more rural areas. During these trips, he developed a deep love for Virginia's lush vegetation and abundant variety of birds. Slowly Myron began to realize that he had a love for the natural environment, a love that he had never recognized before.
With this love developing, Myron remembered that one of his uncles worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Myron called his uncle, who urged Myron to go into environmental law instead of following his original path of criminal law.
With this new goal in mind, Myron quit his job, moved to Pennsylvania, and enrolled in the St. Jonathan College School of Law. After his second year, his uncle helped him get a summer internship in the Philadelphia office of the EPA.
Upon graduating in 1998, Myron moved to Los Angeles, where he became a summer associate for D'Agostino & Keeley. There, he specialized in toxic tort litigation, along with personal injury and products liability. The firm loved him so much that it hired him on as a full-time associate after the summer. He remained there for two years.
However, Myron wanted to focus only on environmental law, so he found a job as a legal counsel for the Department of Public Health and Safety. After two years there, he moved on to become an environmental law associate with Westchester, Vermont, & Chun. During his time there, he also went back to school to receive his LL.M. in Environmental Law.
Myron is currently in the second year of his LL.M. and is looking for a new job with better pay. He would like to work in a large-firm setting, as both of his previous law firm positions were in such settings.
Myron's Cover Letter
On the next page is an example of Myron's cover letter that a certified professional resume writer helped him design for his targeted mass mailing. He and his attorney employment advocate decided to target all mid-sized to large law firm offices in Los Angeles County with environmental law practices.
Notice how Myron's cover letter gets straight to the point, first saying that he wanted to specialize in environmental law. The first sentence also mentions that he is licensed in California, a definite need-to-know for any potential employer in Los Angeles, as well as a bragging point because of the difficulty of the California Bar exam.
The second thing Myron mentions is his current enrollment to receive his LL.M. in Environmental Law. Because he goes to a lesser-known, smaller law school, he is sure to mention that is has a top program in his chosen field, something that the potential employer may or may not know.
Notice how the rest of the cover letter defines his interest in joining the firm's environmental practice group. It also defines his particular skill set as an environmental law specialist. It gives a few specific examples of his skills in this and related areas.
Notice also that he will be addressing this cover letter directly to a contact at each firm. His employment advocate will be doing this for him, but if Myron were to do this on his own, he would probably do it manually. It would be worth it to give each cover letter that personalized feel.
33 Woodman Ave., San Bartolomeo, CA 96774
(818) 987-9876, firstname.lastname@example.org
City, State, Zip
Dear (Mr. or Ms.) (Last Name):
I am California-licensed attorney with a strong background in environmental law and related areas, including toxic torts. Currently, I am studying for my LL.M. in Environmental Law at the University of San Fernando, home to one of the nation's finest environmental programs. I possess a thorough knowledge of the myriad environmental regulations, which affect us all, and I am familiar with litigating a diverse range of complex matters. Confident that I will be able to add value to your firm, I am writing to express my interest in joining your team of attorneys.
As an associate with a mid-sized Los Angeles law firm, I have been fortunate to work at the forefront of the ever-changing landscape of environmental policy. In the 2003 case Manzini v. Lumberco, my proven writing ability was a key in securing victory for the firm's client. With the Department of Public Health and Safety, my expertise in environmental law also played an important role, as my previous experience working for the Environmental Protection Agency during law school afforded me a great opportunity to build unity between the two organizations.
If your firm could use an attorney with my specialized background, please contact me at your convenience. Thank you for your consideration.
On the next page is Myron's resume. He and his certified professional resume writer worked hard to give it maximum impact and maximum focus toward environmental law.
Notice that his education is at the bottom, just above his memberships section. Myron knows that he did not go to any top schools, so he wants the emphasis to be on his experience rather than on his education.
Because being licensed in California is not only impressive, but vital to Myron's job search, he puts his licensure section at the top of his resume, while memberships go at the bottom to complete the resume.
The second section on his resume is his legal experience. Because his experience is rather impressive, Myron emphasizes it. In each job, he emphasizes specific experience that he had with environmental matters and environmental law. He deemphasizes other areas, but includes them so that he does not appear overly specialized. He also emphasizes his management experience over other attorneys. He obviously does not want to remain at the associate level forever.
33 Woodman Ave., San Bartolomeo, CA 96774
(818) 987-9876 , email@example.com
Admitted in California, 1998; Pennsylvania, 2000
American Bar Association; California Bar Association; San Bartolomeo Bar Association, Treasurer
Myron's employment advocate addresses each cover letter to a hiring contact at each of 500 law firm offices that fit Myron's search criteria. Along with these cover letters, the employment advocate sends envelopes addressed to each contact and more than enough resumes for his mailing.
One week after sending his mailing, Myron gets calls for five interviews. Two result in offers, and he chooses one based on the firm's working environment and its salary offer.
Of course, this is a fictitious story, but it is not unlike those shared by many attorneys in similar situations to Myron's. In fact, targeted mailing can be extremely effective when done right.
However, no method is perfect, and those considering a targeted mailing should approach it with such an attitude, remembering that it does not guarantee success. Never forget that a targeted mailing serves two purposes: to help you get interviews and to show you how marketable you are in your mailing area. If you don't get any interviews, it may be time to reevaluate what type of position you are looking for and where you wish to find it.