How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

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Anonymous User
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How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:05 pm

I know it should be very important, but when applying for 1L positions it seemed as though firms did not even look at my sample. And now, I am starting to realize that I do not have a sample that I am proud of, and I am wondering if I should spend a lot of time perfecting something before OCI. I was just going to use my LRW brief, as I got a decent (not great grade) on it, but it just isn't that good.

How big of a problem would it be turing in a mediocre writing sample? Obviously, I would like to turn in the best work possible, but I have other big time commitments that would make revising my writing sample very difficult.

Also, how are other people, who are using an LWR assignment, cutting their paper down to 5-10 double spaced pages? Would it be okay to use an excerpt solely from our analysis section if that section looks at a pure question of law (i.e. would be okay to omit the fact section and other background info in such a case)?

Thanks in advance for any guidance!

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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:09 pm

Writing sample usually isn't a big deal. Depends on the firm. I doubt some firms even look at it.

lawgod
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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby lawgod » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:10 pm

I'm guessing a question of applying law to fact is a better sample.

Also, you can perfect it by just fixing the things that your professor criticized. Then email it to the professor and ask them to take a look at it for you. (maybe highlighting the things you fixed.)

I'd say make it a priority. The competition is tough; there is no reason to lose out on something which is in your control. A couple of hours revising the criticisms would probably make an ok paper great.

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quakeroats
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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby quakeroats » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know it should be very important, but when applying for 1L positions it seemed as though firms did not even look at my sample. And now, I am starting to realize that I do not have a sample that I am proud of, and I am wondering if I should spend a lot of time perfecting something before OCI. I was just going to use my LRW brief, as I got a decent (not great grade) on it, but it just isn't that good.

How big of a problem would it be turing in a mediocre writing sample? Obviously, I would like to turn in the best work possible, but I have other big time commitments that would make revising my writing sample very difficult.

Also, how are other people, who are using an LWR assignment, cutting their paper down to 5-10 double spaced pages? Would it be okay to use an excerpt solely from our analysis section if that section looks at a pure question of law (i.e. would be okay to omit the fact section and other background info in such a case)?

Thanks in advance for any guidance!


A few firms are known for scrutinizing writing samples. For the rest it varies, with litigation practices tending to care more than transactional. The general view is that writing samples are not very important.

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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:19 pm

lawgod wrote:I'm guessing a question of applying law to fact is a better sample.


Well then I feel like I would need to include my fact section and it becomes difficult to keep it under 10 pgs. Could I just provide the relevant background info in the cover page and then still use an excerpt solely from my analysis section?

lawgod
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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby lawgod » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
lawgod wrote:I'm guessing a question of applying law to fact is a better sample.


Well then I feel like I would need to include my fact section and it becomes difficult to keep it under 10 pgs. Could I just provide the relevant background info in the cover page and then still use an excerpt solely from my analysis section?


Sounds good.

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Cavalier
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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby Cavalier » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:27 pm

I would use a ten page section of the analysis part of the brief (with a cover page explaining the background of the case). It's really not important though. Many firms don't ask for one, and of those that do, I get the sense most don't really care--their recruiter just decided to check the writing sample box on Symplicity for whatever reason. You should proofread it several times (and get to a friend to look it over as well) to make sure the spelling, grammar, and Bluebooking are perfect, but I wouldn't worry about the substantive aspects.

lawgod
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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby lawgod » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:29 pm

Also, read it before your first interview. If they decide to ask about it, you don't want to be trying to remember what the topic was.

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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:34 pm

I'm at UVA (preselect/lottery combination), bidding on NYC, my writing sample was a shitty LRW memo that I spent a day editing right before submission to firms, and I had a decrease in probability of getting a preselect/alternate for the firms where I had a writing sample. I had something like a 2/5 conversion rate from bid to preselect/alternate if there was no writing sample request. I had a 1/4 conversion rate if there was a writing sample request. Only 8 firms asked for a writing sample so this is not what you might call statistically significant, since 1 more writing sample firm randomly selecting me would have made my conversion rate approximately the same.

My roommate bid on DC and he's a great writer. I forget his exact numbers, but he had a markedly increased probability of getting a preselect/alternate if they read his writing sample. I think DC asked for more writing samples than NYC did, so I think his results suggested pretty strongly that a good writing sample is clutch.

My takeaway is that, at least in DC, writing samples matter. In NYC, results are inconclusive, but suggest that they matter.

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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:36 pm

lawgod wrote:Also, read it before your first interview. If they decide to ask about it, you don't want to be trying to remember what the topic was.


Someone made me do this, and I balked at it, but was convinced to do it. Sure enough one firm did.

goodolgil
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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby goodolgil » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:50 pm

What about something you did for your summer job? Those are usually simpler, and I don't think employers would expect as much out of a job assignment you may have had a couple of days to work on versus a brief that a lot of students spent half a semester on.

lawgod
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Re: How important is the writing sample for SA positions?

Postby lawgod » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:54 pm

goodolgil wrote:What about something you did for your summer job? Those are usually simpler, and I don't think employers would expect as much out of a job assignment you may have had a couple of days to work on versus a brief that a lot of students spent half a semester on.


That is actually why I'm using the one from class. Because I spent half a semester on it as opposed to 2 days. And I spent time editing it instead of just submitting it as fast as I was done researching and moving on to the next assignment.

I don't suppose they look at it differently when you tell them it is from the summer. I would want an applicant to give me his best work.




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