Writing Sample Question

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Anonymous User
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Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:40 pm

Have to send a writing sample to a firm in preparation for an interview I have next week.

I have part of a motion from my job this summer that I would like to use however some of the language in the part that I did is copy and pasted boilerplate stuff. Is it appropriate to still use it or am I better off using something from school?

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:48 am

Interested in this as well....I have a complaint that I drafted that I am proud of, but is a school memo/brief preferred?

KdRw19
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby KdRw19 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:54 am

Before anything, have you checked with your superiors first to make sure that it is okay to use?

kyle010723
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby kyle010723 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:55 am

Be sure you have your employer's permission if you are using work product. Especially if it has other people's personal information. Talk to your employer first before you do anything.

onehellofaride
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby onehellofaride » Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Have to send a writing sample to a firm in preparation for an interview I have next week.

I have part of a motion from my job this summer that I would like to use however some of the language in the part that I did is copy and pasted boilerplate stuff. Is it appropriate to still use it or am I better off using something from school?


I am also interested in this. I was considering today highlighting the boilerplate language, so they know exactly what I wrote. I would NOT just turn it in without any disclaimer or full disclosure, however.

deliriousxix
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby deliriousxix » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:47 pm

I wouldn't use something like a motion. A lot of firms use templates or boilerplate language for their motions. Plus, if you have to go through the effort of highlighting it, it seems kind of bizarre IMO. Why not use something that is solely your own? If I was an employer/interviewer, I would assume that you don't have confidence in your legal writing assignments.

onehellofaride
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby onehellofaride » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:57 pm

deliriousxix wrote:I wouldn't use something like a motion. A lot of firms use templates or boilerplate language for their motions. Plus, if you have to go through the effort of highlighting it, it seems kind of bizarre IMO. Why not use something that is solely your own? If I was an employer/interviewer, I would assume that you don't have confidence in your legal writing assignments.


With regards to your first point, I am confused. Are you suggesting that because a firm already has a stable of pre-written motions, that they would somehow not be interested in reading a writing sample that is also a motion? I doubt firms are interested in your writing sample as supplements to their own databases.

Secondly, the motion I'm speaking of was approximately 10 pages, and only a couple paragraphs were from a boilerplate motion. I've received complements on the motion from numerous attorneys and the judge who ruled on it. Not sure what the other poster's specific situation is, but again, I doubt this screams a lack of confidence, as opposed to an ability to be resourceful and not reinvent the wheel.

Obviously though it's case-specific. And this is an anonymous blog of students who probably don't know the difference between their elbow and their asshole when it comes to hypothetical hiring decisions (myself included).

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BVest
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby BVest » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:10 pm

If it's 10 pages and there's not much boilerplate, then why highlight? Why not edit for length and omit any boilerplate? Is it that disjointed with the boilerplate removed?

And to repeat what was said above, when using anything from work, be sure you have permission of the employer for whom it was written.

deliriousxix
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby deliriousxix » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:13 pm

onehellofaride wrote:
deliriousxix wrote:I wouldn't use something like a motion. A lot of firms use templates or boilerplate language for their motions. Plus, if you have to go through the effort of highlighting it, it seems kind of bizarre IMO. Why not use something that is solely your own? If I was an employer/interviewer, I would assume that you don't have confidence in your legal writing assignments.


With regards to your first point, I am confused. Are you suggesting that because a firm already has a stable of pre-written motions, that they would somehow not be interested in reading a writing sample that is also a motion? I doubt firms are interested in your writing sample as supplements to their own databases.

Secondly, the motion I'm speaking of was approximately 10 pages, and only a couple paragraphs were from a boilerplate motion. I've received complements on the motion from numerous attorneys and the judge who ruled on it. Not sure what the other poster's specific situation is, but again, I doubt this screams a lack of confidence, as opposed to an ability to be resourceful and not reinvent the wheel.

Obviously though it's case-specific. And this is an anonymous blog of students who probably don't know the difference between their elbow and their asshole when it comes to hypothetical hiring decisions (myself included).


Ok. Not the point I was trying to get at, at all. I just know that of the firms I have worked at, a lot of the motions were templated. Hence, it was not that much work to draft one. I am not sure if this is commonplace, but it is what I have encountered. I just personally think that it would be safer to submit something that you drafted for school.

You were soliciting opinions, so I gave you one. Sorry if it's not what you want to hear! If you don't want an opinion, you shouldn't seek advice from an "anonymous blog of students who probably don't know the difference between their elbow and their asshole."

Oh, also.. speaking of knowing the difference between your elbow and your asshole... you receive compliments, not complements.

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:26 am

(New poster)
So is it best to just use my brief from legal writing as my writing sample? I'm not unhappy with it, but I figured it would be better to use something I wrote this summer. I'm working for a judge, and have written 2 opinions and a few findings of fact that he's read into the record. I was thinking about using one of those things, but it'd definitely be easier to just use my legal writing brief. Is that what I should do?

kyle010723
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby kyle010723 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:32 am

I am using a memo I wrote for the judge, some judges would allow you to use a memo so long as the case is closed, some wouldn't let you use work product regardless. So check with your judge and clerks first. And if you do decide to use it, use the draft you wrote, not the version edited by the clerk.

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:20 am

It seems to me the benefit of using something from the summer is that it shows your work under (slightly more) realistic work conditions (it's presumably for a real case, it got used for a legal purpose). The downside is that whether it shows any significant legal analysis depends entirely on what you wrote/for what. The benefit of using a legal writing brief/memo is that precisely because it's artificial, it lets you show what you can do (the fake case is set up to go either way), and you've obviously had the chance to polish it. The downside is that it is artificial, and you probably did get lots of feedback on it to help you polish it. So you just have to decide which is the lesser of two evils in your personal situation.

To the person working for a judge, I would totally use a written opinion, if your judge is okay with that, and you think it's as good as/better than your brief.

As for motions, it would totally depend on what the motion was. I'm sure many of them are templated, but we get tons and tons in chambers that are very specific to the case at hand and the arguments require a lot of legal analysis. I have no idea if summers are going to be writing any of those as opposed to something purely formulaic that deals with discovery or the like, though. If possible, I would just omit the boilerplate sections and include the sections that involve original work, or possibly state in the WS cover that your firm provides boilerplate for sections x, y, and z, but sections a, b, and c were your original work (only if omitting sections x, y, and y would make the thing look incomprehensible. though).

Basically, pick whatever best shows your legal analysis and ability to write; if that's from work/a real-world case, great, if not, that's fine too. Employers will get both kinds and I doubt they really care that much (they're not reading everyone's writing sample, I can tell you that).

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:30 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:It seems to me the benefit of using something from the summer is that it shows your work under (slightly more) realistic work conditions (it's presumably for a real case, it got used for a legal purpose). The downside is that whether it shows any significant legal analysis depends entirely on what you wrote/for what. The benefit of using a legal writing brief/memo is that precisely because it's artificial, it lets you show what you can do (the fake case is set up to go either way), and you've obviously had the chance to polish it. The downside is that it is artificial, and you probably did get lots of feedback on it to help you polish it. So you just have to decide which is the lesser of two evils in your personal situation.

To the person working for a judge, I would totally use a written opinion, if your judge is okay with that, and you think it's as good as/better than your brief.

As for motions, it would totally depend on what the motion was. I'm sure many of them are templated, but we get tons and tons in chambers that are very specific to the case at hand and the arguments require a lot of legal analysis. I have no idea if summers are going to be writing any of those as opposed to something purely formulaic that deals with discovery or the like, though. If possible, I would just omit the boilerplate sections and include the sections that involve original work, or possibly state in the WS cover that your firm provides boilerplate for sections x, y, and z, but sections a, b, and c were your original work (only if omitting sections x, y, and y would make the thing look incomprehensible. though).

Basically, pick whatever best shows your legal analysis and ability to write; if that's from work/a real-world case, great, if not, that's fine too. Employers will get both kinds and I doubt they really care that much (they're not reading everyone's writing sample, I can tell you that).

Basically, if I think they're roughly equal quality, its not gonna hurt me to use my brief instead of an opinion from this summer? I'm leaning towards that just because of the logistics of the situation I'm in (judge is on vacation right now).

Edit: And just to add, obviously I'd get his permission and what not, just saying it's extra work that I can't just resolve right now.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:Basically, if I think they're roughly equal quality, its not gonna hurt me to use my brief instead of an opinion from this summer? I'm leaning towards that just because of the logistics of the situation I'm in (judge is on vacation right now).

No, I don't think it will hurt you at all; besides, many judges don't let their interns use any of their work product (I was in that situation) so you may not even be able to use it. Personally, if everything else is equal, I tend to lean toward giving a real-world sample (just because I would like to show I can produce good work in a real job, not just in the classroom). But what's most important is to show good work.

(Again, to the extent anyone's even going to look at the writing sample.)

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby kyle010723 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:21 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:To the person working for a judge, I would totally use a written opinion, if your judge is okay with that, and you think it's as good as/better than your brief.


I would be careful using an opinion as your writing sample, because more likely than not, it was heavily edited by the clerk, and is not something you can claim as your own. If your clerk hardly edited anything, then maybe.

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:36 pm

I was the OP.

i ended up using the motion from work, prior to starting it the lawyer I was writing it for knew I was wanted to use it was a writing sample so he gave me a unique case with 5 or 6 cases to apply to the facts. I took out as much boilerplate as I could but out of 8 pages about a page remained.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:40 pm

kyle010723 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:To the person working for a judge, I would totally use a written opinion, if your judge is okay with that, and you think it's as good as/better than your brief.


I would be careful using an opinion as your writing sample, because more likely than not, it was heavily edited by the clerk, and is not something you can claim as your own. If your clerk hardly edited anything, then maybe.

Yeah, it depends how much it was edited, but frankly, at a lot of (most?) schools, every legal writing assignment goes through multiple drafts and gets tons of feedback, too. Our LRW prof volunteered to give us comments after we were done, so we could use it as a writing sample. So it's 6 of one, a half-dozen of another.

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:58 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Yeah, it depends how much it was edited, but frankly, at a lot of (most?) schools, every legal writing assignment goes through multiple drafts and gets tons of feedback, too. Our LRW prof volunteered to give us comments after we were done, so we could use it as a writing sample. So it's 6 of one, a half-dozen of another.



Ours got no feedback until we got our briefs back in late June. I recognized the feedback-after-returned issue and was dealing with a three-day deadline to get my OCI bids in due to a transfer (that's why I'm using Anon, btw). Therefore I simply stated in my introduction that I believed they would rather see my work under deadline conditions and that I was presenting it (excerpted, of course) in the same form in which it was turned in on deadline and without assistance. I don't know if that will help or hurt, but between assembling my list, writing cover letters, and working during the day, and packing to move, I didn't have time to edit according to the feedback I had received, so I figured what the hell. It was either that or use a memo, which I didn't want to do. (All but one of the firms that wanted a writing sample were lit heavy).




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