Some application hints and tips for future trainee solicitors

Tom Swann

Trainee Solicitor

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May 31, 2022

Categories Graduate recruitment

Tom Swann is a trainee solicitor with Furley Page. Here are Tom’s hints and tips to future applicants of Furley Page’s trainee solicitor programme on how to write a covering letter.

 

In the course of your career you will be expected to draft correspondence and documents that are clear, concise and professional. Your application is the first opportunity to demonstrate your ability to do so.

Formalities

Cover letters should be set out in proper business letter format. Make sure to include your name and address, the recipient’s name and address and the date.

When you are writing to a business, or when you do not know the name of the person who the letter will be read by, ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ is appropriate. If you use one of these you should sign off with ‘Yours faithfully’ before your signature and name. Otherwise the salutation should be ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss [Surname]’ (remembering to use Ms if you are unsure of marital status), and your sign off should be ‘Yours sincerely’.

It can also be helpful to include your phone number and email address in the covering letter, even if it is repeated in the application form.

Presentation

Make sure that your documents have consistent fonts, font sizes and paragraph spacing. Avoid use of colour.

Sign your cover letter if possible, rather than just typing your name. You could do this by printing the document, signing it and scanning it back in. Alternatively, if you have a clear image of your signature with a plain white background (you could create such an image using a phone or tablet), you could insert that image directly into the document.

It is always best to send documents as PDFs, unless you expect or intend the recipient to make amendments to the text.

Content

One common piece of advice for training applications is to convey enthusiasm, because it will help differentiate you from others with similar qualifications and experience. However, it is vital to remain professional and to avoid using emotive language. For example, the phrase ‘I would welcome the opportunity’ is preferable to ‘I would love the opportunity’. You should also avoid using unnecessary adverbs such as ‘really’, ‘hugely’, ‘massively’, etc. It can be hard to gauge the tone of your own writing, so have someone else review it for you before sending. Alternatively, review your own application a couple of days after writing it, so that you can read it with fresh eyes.

Make sure not to copy and paste sentences or phrases between the application form and cover letter. This can come across as lazy and it will be noticed. That is not to say you cannot make similar points in each document, it is likely that your cover letter will summarise your application. However, make sure that each document is distinct.

Next-level Tip: Rule of Three. It has been shown in multiple studies that human beings like the number three. We all subconsciously prefer when things are grouped into threes. Consider this when using subheadings, drafting paragraphs or listing things in a sentence.