Writing Sample Format Pointers

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
User avatar
Perseus_I
Posts: 265
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:24 pm

Writing Sample Format Pointers

Postby Perseus_I » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:09 pm

1. underline vs. italicize for citations, introductory phrases like "see," etc.

2. Which style guide? For example, according to my internships's local style, it's "chapter 11" bankruptcy, not "Chapter 11" as it is for some law review articles

3. double-spacing vs. 1.25 vs. single-spacing. My LRW teacher insisted on single spacing. That's what I've been doing for everything.

4. Length when not specified: I've been submitting about 4.5 pages single-spacing, which would be 9 pages double spaced.

5. Is a cover letter necessary? How about a footnote attached to the title. Shorter is better, right? If I submit a memorandum, I include the "facts" and "questions" to help them figure out what's going on, should they care.

6. What kind of software do the firms typically use to check for citation errors?

If anyone could add more, that is what this thread is for.

bdubs
Posts: 3729
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:23 pm

Re: Writing Sample Format Pointers

Postby bdubs » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:07 pm

Perseus_I wrote:1. underline vs. italicize for citations, introductory phrases like "see," etc.

2. Which style guide? For example, according to my internships's local style, it's "chapter 11" bankruptcy, not "Chapter 11" as it is for some law review articles

3. double-spacing vs. 1.25 vs. single-spacing. My LRW teacher insisted on single spacing. That's what I've been doing for everything.

4. Length when not specified: I've been submitting about 4.5 pages single-spacing, which would be 9 pages double spaced.

5. Is a cover letter necessary? How about a footnote attached to the title. Shorter is better, right? If I submit a memorandum, I include the "facts" and "questions" to help them figure out what's going on, should they care.

6. What kind of software do the firms typically use to check for citation errors?

If anyone could add more, that is what this thread is for.


I might be wrong, but I don't think they are asking for a writing sample in order to verify your Bluebooking skills. The attorneys who get your writing sample will probably skim/read it really quickly in order to assess whether you are a completely incompetent writer or not. Glaring errors are bad, but I doubt that they will use software to cite check (wouldn't you bring a hard copy to an interview anyway?)

The only ones of these that I think really matter are 3 and 4. You should do should probably double space, definitely not single space. The length should be manageable so that someone could actually read the whole thing if they wanted to. Certainly <= 10 pages if unspecified.

User avatar
Perseus_I
Posts: 265
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Writing Sample Format Pointers

Postby Perseus_I » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:51 pm

bdubs wrote:
Perseus_I wrote:1. underline vs. italicize for citations, introductory phrases like "see," etc.

2. Which style guide? For example, according to my internships's local style, it's "chapter 11" bankruptcy, not "Chapter 11" as it is for some law review articles

3. double-spacing vs. 1.25 vs. single-spacing. My LRW teacher insisted on single spacing. That's what I've been doing for everything.

4. Length when not specified: I've been submitting about 4.5 pages single-spacing, which would be 9 pages double spaced.

5. Is a cover letter necessary? How about a footnote attached to the title. Shorter is better, right? If I submit a memorandum, I include the "facts" and "questions" to help them figure out what's going on, should they care.

6. What kind of software do the firms typically use to check for citation errors?

If anyone could add more, that is what this thread is for.


I might be wrong, but I don't think they are asking for a writing sample in order to verify your Bluebooking skills. The attorneys who get your writing sample will probably skim/read it really quickly in order to assess whether you are a completely incompetent writer or not. Glaring errors are bad, but I doubt that they will use software to cite check (wouldn't you bring a hard copy to an interview anyway?)

The only ones of these that I think really matter are 3 and 4. You should do should probably double space, definitely not single space. The length should be manageable so that someone could actually read the whole thing if they wanted to. Certainly <= 10 pages if unspecified.


Why? My LRW teacher insisted on single-spacing. Is there a reason to double-space? Readability?

I realize you are probably right because a quick Google search revealed a few documents, including the CSO guide from Duke, which said this. At my school, most writing samples are submitted via a Symplicity module, so everything is done electronically. I'm not sure if this changes anything or not.

I submitted a writing sample to a few job fairs; then, I realized I screwed up. It's also true you're supposed to include brackets informing the reader what is cut out, right? I just cut out the second section without explanation. I single-spaced and included a footnote instead of a cover letter explaining how I had permission to share it, etc.

I can't believe I spent hours cite checking and style checking but missed so many big things.

Good thing it's not OCI yet!

bdubs
Posts: 3729
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:23 pm

Re: Writing Sample Format Pointers

Postby bdubs » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:30 pm

Perseus_I wrote:Why? My LRW teacher insisted on single-spacing. Is there a reason to double-space? Readability?


Yes, readability. Have you ever seen a memo or brief that is single space? They all use spacing >1 so that the text is readable. I'm not saying you have to use double, but it's probably the most common spacing for legal writing.

dixiecupdrinking
Posts: 3139
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: Writing Sample Format Pointers

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:07 pm

Very weird advice from your LRW prof regarding single-spacing. Everything I've encountered (law school, small state court practice, national public interest org, biglaw) has been double-spaced.

FWIW not many NYC firms wanted writing samples but I got offers at the ones who did and I realized after the fact I had a fairly obvious typo and a smaller but readily apparent bluebooking error. They either decided not to count it against me or (more likely) they just didn't read the stuff that closely.

Anyway, my two cents is: personal preference on italics/underline (with italics slightly preferred); standard bluebook style for everything; ~8 pages double-spaced; include a cover page that says when you wrote the sample, what you wrote it for, and what it is (including any brief helpful background; this whole cover sheet should be like a single 3-4 sentence paragraph).




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.