Importance of writing sample for 1L

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RVP11
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Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby RVP11 » Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:15 pm

I've been tweaking and revising my writing sample, a 10 page memo from LRW, for a few days now.

I still feel like it could benefit from a few weeks' more work, but I'm eager to send out judicial internship apps this week to give any interested judge a chance to interview me while I'm still in my hometown. So I suppose my question is: how much importance do employers place on a 1L's writing sample? Am I wasting time making revisions that aren't necessarily making the memo any better in the eyes of someone who doesn't understand the full background of the memo topic? I feel like, at this point, most 1L writing samples are just going to be about the same quality.

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steve_nash
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby steve_nash » Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:19 pm

I got hired by a federal judge who never looked at my writing sample. Granted, I had my grades at that point. I don't know how much weight every employer gives to writing samples, but if I had to guess, it'd be "very little."

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ggocat
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby ggocat » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:46 pm

steve_nash wrote:I got hired by a federal judge who never looked at my writing sample. Granted, I had my grades at that point. I don't know how much weight every employer gives to writing samples, but if I had to guess, it'd be "very little."

+1. I didn't even have grades. I wouldn't send a writing sample for 1L summer employment unless the judge specifically asks for it (but bring a copy to your interview even if they don't ask ahead of time).

Bankhead
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby Bankhead » Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:11 pm

As long as it's somewhat well written I think is enough, considering the employer doesn't actually know what the assignment called for anyway.

drew
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby drew » Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:35 pm

isn't editing your memo before submitting it as a writing sample against most of the rules? at least unethical? it kind of pisses me off to read this

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ggocat
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby ggocat » Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:03 pm

drew wrote:isn't editing your memo before submitting it as a writing sample against most of the rules? at least unethical? it kind of pisses me off to read this

Unless the employer/judge asks for a sample of your written work specifically prepared for a law school class (I had one firm 2L year ask for this), I don't think editing your own writing sample after the class is over would be unethical. It's still your own work product, and it reflects your own writing ability.

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RVP11
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby RVP11 » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:05 pm

Our LRW instructors specifically offered their assistance for revising our memos AFTER we'd turned them in. So no.

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Cavalier
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby Cavalier » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:09 pm

I'm curious about this as well. For me, I have everything ready except a writing sample, so I'm not sure if I'll just send a cover letter and resume without a writing sample and simply bring it to the interview.

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thesealocust
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby thesealocust » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:48 pm

drew wrote:isn't editing your memo before submitting it as a writing sample against most of the rules? at least unethical? it kind of pisses me off to read this


What? It's practically expected! I cut mine to 1/3 the length, altered pieces of analysis, fixed citations, had 'discussion omitted' tags, etc. Hasn't been a problem thus far.

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ben1185
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby ben1185 » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:16 pm

Editing your own paper is acceptable--in fact it's a necessity (I wouldn't suggest turning in a stream of consciousness writing sample :) ). Some firms want a sample that hasn't been edited by anyone besides you (I've seen 1-2 so far). Most firms have no guidelines on this from (Based on my personal experience so far).

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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby drew » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:18 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:Our LRW instructors specifically offered their assistance for revising our memos AFTER we'd turned them in. So no.

Put that in the fail column for me. I think the first app I read (DOJ or USAO, I believe) explicitly stated unedited and I applied that to the rest of my apps. Ours haven't been graded yet, so I'm certain the profs didn't extend the same offer to us. Woe is me.

[/summer employment]

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ggocat
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby ggocat » Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:51 pm

drew wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:Our LRW instructors specifically offered their assistance for revising our memos AFTER we'd turned them in. So no.

Put that in the fail column for me. I think the first app I read (DOJ or USAO, I believe) explicitly stated unedited and I applied that to the rest of my apps. Ours haven't been graded yet, so I'm certain the profs didn't extend the same offer to us. Woe is me.

[/summer employment]

Even in that context, I would read "unedited" as "not edited by someone other than yourself" unless the job posting specifically requires you submit the actual paper from a class.

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worldtraveler
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:56 am

drew wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:Our LRW instructors specifically offered their assistance for revising our memos AFTER we'd turned them in. So no.

Put that in the fail column for me. I think the first app I read (DOJ or USAO, I believe) explicitly stated unedited and I applied that to the rest of my apps. Ours haven't been graded yet, so I'm certain the profs didn't extend the same offer to us. Woe is me.

[/summer employment]


Unedited really means they want a full work under whatever page limitation they have. Not a 20 page memo of which you only submit 8 pages to make the cut-off. Nobody wants the first draft of your work.

drew
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby drew » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:14 am

worldtraveler wrote:
drew wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:Our LRW instructors specifically offered their assistance for revising our memos AFTER we'd turned them in. So no.

Put that in the fail column for me. I think the first app I read (DOJ or USAO, I believe) explicitly stated unedited and I applied that to the rest of my apps. Ours haven't been graded yet, so I'm certain the profs didn't extend the same offer to us. Woe is me.

[/summer employment]


Unedited really means they want a full work under whatever page limitation they have. Not a 20 page memo of which you only submit 8 pages to make the cut-off. Nobody wants the first draft of your work.

I guess memos differ significantly from school to school. Ours was essentially the semester grade in LRW and, thus, was certainly not our first drafts.

The prospective employer is looking to glean an understanding of what he/she can expect from your "work product" (to use a prior poster's words) and I suspect they would prefer an exact replica of the memo you alone wrote and turned in for a grade. Your LRW prof isn't going to be making comments on whatever writing assignments the prospective employer requires of you.

I read unedited to mean exactly what you turned in.

[edit: which appears to be a completely erroneous reading]

Anonymous User
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:12 pm

drew wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
drew wrote:
JSUVA2012 wrote:Our LRW instructors specifically offered their assistance for revising our memos AFTER we'd turned them in. So no.

Put that in the fail column for me. I think the first app I read (DOJ or USAO, I believe) explicitly stated unedited and I applied that to the rest of my apps. Ours haven't been graded yet, so I'm certain the profs didn't extend the same offer to us. Woe is me.

[/summer employment]


Unedited really means they want a full work under whatever page limitation they have. Not a 20 page memo of which you only submit 8 pages to make the cut-off. Nobody wants the first draft of your work.

I guess memos differ significantly from school to school. Ours was essentially the semester grade in LRW and, thus, was certainly not our first drafts.

The prospective employer is looking to glean an understanding of what he/she can expect from your "work product" (to use a prior poster's words) and I suspect they would prefer an exact replica of the memo you alone wrote and turned in for a grade. Your LRW prof isn't going to be making comments on whatever writing assignments the prospective employer requires of you.

I read unedited to mean exactly what you turned in.

[edit: which appears to be a completely erroneous reading]


I'm pretty sure if it says unedited then you can't use the sample with professor feedback. Unedited means unedited. (but obviously you yourself edited it). If the job doesn't specify, as many of them don't, then use the one with professor feedback. That's my take and what I'm doing.

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ben1185
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby ben1185 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:12 pm

I'm pretty sure if it says unedited then you can't use the sample with professor feedback. Unedited means unedited. (but obviously you yourself edited it). If the job doesn't specify, as many of them don't, then use the one with professor feedback. That's my take and what I'm doing.


My bad... guess i hit anonymous quote by accident... sorry...

Esc
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby Esc » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:26 pm

I made minor edits to my LRW memo and have used that with all my applications. Considering that I won't be receiving feedback from my instructor for several more weeks, I didn't have much of a choice :?

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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:45 pm

It depends on the judge. The judge who hired me said he only perused my writing sample.

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verdandi
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby verdandi » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:14 pm

Old topic but I thought I'd warn some of you out there: I just got dinged from a district judge because my writing sample had a few errors (she even commented on inconsistency in SPACING between words, so they are sticklers!). The assistant who let me know about the ding said the writing sample was the most important piece of the application. Just so you know: some judges definitely care. A lot.

Renzo
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby Renzo » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:44 pm

I talked with one federal office that said they make offers based almost exclusively on quality of writing sample, and that they passed the samples around the office for several attorneys to read before making a decision. I also talked with a biglaw hiring partner who said that he felt they can only hurt and never help, so never volunteer one. He said that if he sees a really good one, he assumes that it's gone through several rounds of revision and feedback over a long period, and if it's bad then it's bad.

I guess the bottom line is make sure you have a good one, and don't volunteer it.

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como
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby como » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:50 pm

I'm pretty sure you can get your foot in the door with a resume and cover letter now, then they will contact you for a writing sample later. Not 100% on that, but I remember reading it in some career service communiqué.

Esc
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Re: Importance of writing sample for 1L

Postby Esc » Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:01 pm

Renzo wrote:I talked with one federal office that said they make offers based almost exclusively on quality of writing sample, and that they passed the samples around the office for several attorneys to read before making a decision. I also talked with a biglaw hiring partner who said that he felt they can only hurt and never help, so never volunteer one. He said that if he sees a really good one, he assumes that it's gone through several rounds of revision and feedback over a long period, and if it's bad then it's bad.

I guess the bottom line is make sure you have a good one, and don't volunteer it.


What's annoying is that since we still don't have grades, I still haven't gotten any feedback on my writing sample. The sample I used to apply for every job. FML.




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