Step 6: Writing legal CVs and covering letters

Despite the widespread use of application forms, the CV is still a vital tool in the recruitment process. This Step guides you through the process of constructing a legal CV and writing a successful covering letter.

Step 6 Resource book

Our resource book gives you comprehensive guidance on writing CVs and covering letters specifically focused on the legal profession.

Step 6 Weblinks

UK NARIC: http://ecctis.co.uk/naric/ 
The National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom provides the only official source of comparison information on international education and qualifications.

Ucas: www.ucas.com
The central application website for entry to higher education: includes information for prospective students and advice on qualifications.

Step 6 Workshop

CVs and covering letters remain vital, despite the growth of application forms in legal recruitment. Our workshop gives you a thorough overview of the area, and highlights key points you should consider.

You can also read the transcript here.

Step 6 Activities

If you have read our materials on writing a CV, download our CV ‘make over’ activity to put what you have learnt into practice.

Download our CV activity here 

Step 6 FAQs

Drafting legal CVs and covering letters

I’m making speculative applications and don’t know who to address the covering letter to – is it OK to use “Dear Sir/Madam”?

Do I need to put my nationality on my CV?

Should I put my age and/or marital status on my CV?

Should I mention in my covering letter that I spoke to someone from the firm at a law fair recently? I can’t remember the name of the man I spoke to.

I’m a mature candidate with a substantial previous career: it’s hard to fit it on two sides of A4 – how important is it?


Q. I’m making speculative applications and don’t know who to address the covering letter to – is it OK to use “Dear Sir/Madam”?

A. It is advisable to use a specific name wherever possible. Call the firm, explain that you’d like to send in your CV and what your interest is ie speculative application for a training contract, or for work experience, and ask who it would be best to address the letter to. The firms won’t always tell you so you may have no choice but to use “Dear Sir/Madam” – in which case, do remember to sign off “Yours faithfully” not “Yours sincerely”

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Q. Do I need to put my nationality on my CV?

A. No. The only exception when you might want to consider doing so is if something elsewhere on your CV strongly suggests that you might need a work permit in order to take up a training contract, and this is not in fact the case.

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Q. Should I put my age and/or marital status on my CV?

A. No: a prospective employer should not be taking either of these pieces of information into account when considering your application.

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Q. Should I mention in my covering letter that I spoke to someone from the firm at a law fair recently? I can’t remember the name of the man I spoke to.

A. Firstly, yes, definitely do mention that you spoke to a representative from the fair and give the name of the event: it is good evidence to back up your interest in the firm, and that you have done your research. A good tip for the future, is to write down the name of whoever you speak to at a law fair immediately after you have spoken (usually exhibitors wear name badges: if not, politely ask “that’s been very helpful thank you - may I take your name?” at the end of your discussion).

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Q. I’m a mature candidate with a substantial previous career: it’s hard to fit it on two sides of A4 – how important is it?


A. The more you have to put on a CV, the harder it is to keep to the two page limit, but it is important to do so. You need to work out a way of cutting down the content without losing any of your key ‘selling points’ through addressing the content and/or the layout you have chosen. If you are an accepted or current student at The University of Law, seek advice from a Careers Adviser: if you are an Alumni student, the email advice service is open to you.

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Step 6 In brief

Download our ‘in brief’ guide to writing CVs and covering letters.

Practice areas

Information on different areas of the law: what it covers, what it's like in practice, current issues, and further information.

Case studies

University staff pass on their experience of what it's like to work as a lawyer in practice.