I (in my role as head of a small law firm) do get a lot of letters and emails of inquiry. It’s interesting to see what comes my way. I get a few very impressive resumes, people I would love to hire. I get a lot of grade-B and worse applicants — people who don’t put their law GPA’s on the resume, for example. Sometimes these are very interesting to look at, but not enough times — I’ve come to recognizing the envelopes they come in and I don’t even open them any more because… well, I’m not hiring.
It’s unusual, however, for me to get a cover letter that really hits me as this one did for gumption, utter baloney and yet enough legitimately on-topic substance to make me want to write back. The applicant gave me permission to post it (I’ve added hyperlinks for fun and edification plus my running comments in brackets):
To Whom It May Concern [okay, that’s a strike against — he should bother to get my name — but since we tend to whiz right past this part, he gets a pass]:
“What we have here is a failure to compensate.” When I first read Judge Kozinski’s opening lines in Effects Associates v. Cohen, my decision to pursue a career in Intellectual Property [Intellectual Property capitalized? strike two — but keep reading] was instantly solidified. Although I came to law school with a strong background in the media arts, particularly in photography, I was not sure whether I would be able to parlay this past experience into a career as an IP / Entertainment law attorney. However, as I began to take various IP classes and work in the field at companies such as A&E Television Networks and United Media, I became more confident that I had made the right choice.
Judge Kozinski’s adaptation of the classic line from Cool Hand Luke might strike some as a perversion of jurisprudence. I saw it as the epitome of Intellectual Property law. A true merging of the law meant to protect creative expression and that creative expression itself. [Pure baloney, plus a sentence fragment. But creative! Fun!]
Although I made it a point to specifically take IP courses such as Copyright, Entertainment Law, Trademark and Unfair Competition Law, I realize that most firms do not practice solely intellectual property law. [He gets it. This is a big plus. Most law students don’t even remotely get it.]
Therefore I have taken steps to get the most well rounded legal education possible so that I may be able to cross over into any area necessary. I have taken elective courses such [ . . . ]
I am confident that my academic record, combined with my extensive media background present strong qualifications for a position with your firm upon my graduation this June. I have attached a copy of my resume [. . .]
Very truly yours,
What the heck. He had something to say! Most law students don’t have half his nerve. It didn’t get him a job — did I mention that I’m not hiring? — but maybe it will, yet.
On the other hand, if he really keeps saying things that are imaginative, creative and daring, he’d better prepare for a career on the outside of the elite firms (and the ones that think of themselves as elite), looking in. Just saying.