LL.M. Application Materials & Interviews

Application Materials & Interviews

Yale LL.M. students applying to legal practice opportunities* should prepare the following application materials:

When drafting these materials, keep in mind that every piece of paper you provide to an employer should be technically perfect and well written.

*  CDO’s advice on application materials is geared toward applications to private and public sector opportunities with U.S.- and U.K.-based employers, as well as all YLS Public Interest Fellowships.  LL.M. students who are applying to practice opportunities in their home countries or in third countries with which they have legal market familiarity should follow their own knowledge of the types of application materials most commonly used; any instructions provided by the employers to which they are applying; and the general conventions of relevant markets and sectors.

See here for CDO’s in-depth discussion for all YLS students on resume drafting for legal practice opportunities; how to approach and organize each resume section; and numerous additional resume-related resources, examples, and information.

In addition to CDO’s general legal resume advice for YLS students, there are some LL.M.-specific considerations for a U.S.-style legal resume:

A U.S.-style resume likely differs from your current academic CV in several respects. A U.S.-style resume is typically one page (although many LL.M. candidates with significant relevant professional experience effectively use a two-page format).  Your resume is not a recitation of your entire educational and professional background. Instead, it is a summary of your relevant education and employment, written with the goal of persuading a potential employer to hire you.  Notably, U.S.-style resumes do not include personal information about topics including birthdates or marital status.  They also do not include photographs.

Before sitting down to draft your resume, spend some time reflecting on the qualities that make you an attractive candidate to the particular type of employer to which you will be applying. For example:

  • Have you practiced law in your home country; in the U.S.; or in a third country?
  • What types of projects have you worked on, and what skills did those projects help you to develop?
  • Do you have strong speaking and writing abilities in English and/or in other language relevant to an employer’s work?
  • Do you have professional contacts in your home country that might be useful to this type of employer?

Whatever your best qualities are from the perspective of these prospective legal practice employers, be sure to highlight them in your resume (and cover letter!).

Since the employers to which you are applying may be unaware of the system of education in your home country or a third country where you previously studied, be sure to make your resume as clear as possible with respect to your various educational degrees and prior work experiences. As a general rule, you should translate information on your resume into English.

In addition to going here for CDO’s in-depth discussion for all YLS students on resume drafting, you can view sample YLS LL.M. resumes here.

See here for CDO’s in-depth cover letter advice for all YLS students, which includes a detailed discussion of how to write and structure a cover letter, as well as additional cover letter-related resources. 

In addition, there are some LL.M.-specific considerations for cover letters to legal practice employers:

The purpose of a cover letter is to explain to the employer-recipient why you are applying for a particular position. Like your resume, your cover letter also serves as an English-language writing sample that employers will evaluate when determining whether to offer you an interview. Given that, your cover letter should be error-free and well written.

Be mindful that employers may not typically hire LL.M. students (some may not even know what LL.M. students are!), or may be curious as to how you as an LL.M. could fit into their work structures and flows. It is up to you to convince them that they should hire you. Use your cover letter to accomplish that goal.

In addition to going here for CDO’s in-depth cover letter advice for all YLS students, you can view sample YLS LL.M. cover letters here.

See here for CDO’s in-depth discussion and detailed instructions for all YLS students about writing samples, references, and transcripts, as well as writing samples and writing sample cover pages.

In addition, there are some LL.M.-specific considerations for writing samples and transcripts:

Writing Samples

Employers seeking writing samples from LL.M.s most frequently want to see practice-oriented legal analysis written in English.

An English-language legal memorandum or brief (prepared either for a client or for a school project) is preferable to an academic research paper or article. This is the case for all law students, but it may be particularly important to you as an LL.M. candidate if you have a heavily academia-oriented background and are trying to demonstrate to a prospective employer that you have an interest in legal practice.


When employers request transcripts from LL.M. students, they may want only LL.M. students’ YLS transcripts, and/or they may want LL.M. students’ transcripts from prior educational institutions.

If transcripts from your prior educational institutions are requested, you should provide both the original and a translation into English (unless you have reason to believe that employers will be able to understand the documents in their original languages).

Submitting Your Applications Directly to Employers

While LL.M. students sometimes apply for legal practice positions through organized programs and processes including the private sector-focused annual LL.M. Interview Program and the YLS Public Interest Fellowship processes, some LL.M. students (and nearly all LL.M. students who are conducting law firm job searches) may also apply directly to prospective employers.

As a general rule (and unless an employer specifically requests additional or different materials), in the initial application stage when you are applying directly to an employer you need only provide two items with your application:

  • Your resume
  • Your cover letter

If you have a strong English-language writing sample, you may wish to include that as well.

Most students who apply directly to employers submit their applications by email. Occasionally, an employer will instruct applicants to upload their application materials through its own web portal. Many employers indicate on their websites how they would prefer for student applicants to apply. If no application preferences are specified, email is a safe choice.

It is best to convert your documents into PDFs to avoid conversion problems. Before creating the PDFs, format your documents properly by using Word, a standard font such as Times New Roman, at least 0.5 margins, and tabs or justification instead of spaces for alignment purposes.

If you are emailing your applications, include the body of your cover letter in the email message and also include the cover letter as an attachment. Ideally you will attach only one PDF file that includes your resume and cover letter, and any additional application materials, in one document.

If you have questions on how to do any of this, contact CDO or YLS’s Information Technology Services department.

If you have submitted your application directly to an employer and have not heard from the employer after two or more weeks, it is fine to send a follow-up email (if you submitted your initial application via email, your follow-up email can be on the same email chain as your initial application). You can state that you are just writing to follow up on your application, as you remain very interested in working for that employer; that you would be glad to share any additional materials that might assist the employer in its evaluation of your candidacy; and that you hope to hear back from the employer soon.

Keep a record of your contacts with employers: those who respond; the nature of their replies; your follow up; and the results. Your search may last a matter of weeks or more likely months, and this record will be an invaluable tool. You are building your professional network, so touch base with contacts you encountered along the way and tell them about the work you ultimately select.

Interviews and Interview Follow-up

See CDO’s Interviewing webpage for all YLS students, which contains an in-depth discussion of numerous interview-related topics and links to additional interviewing resources, including:

  • Preparation for first-round and callback interviews
  • A list of sample employer interview questions
  • Information about post-interview thank you notes
  • Sample post-interview thank you notes
  • Detailed advice for YLS students on legal interview and work attire