Writing Sample Question

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Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:41 pm

I think my best piece of writing is a memo I wrote to the District Court Judge I worked for my 1L summer. It expresses my recommendation on a motion for summary judgment. The judge liked it and has said I can use it.

Unfortunately, the opinion just came out and the Judge came out the other way (though he used a lot of my reasoning). Do you think it would be a mistake to use it?

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:52 pm

I would ask the law clerk. I cleared everything with her; now that something is on record this would seem to be particularly sensitive and I'd seek approval.

Also, some unsolicited advice: I used the EXACT same kind of writing sample for my clerkship apps. I struck out on clerkships (not crazy, but slightly surprising; EiC of the Law Review at a regionally respected school that sends out a handful of AIII and SSC clerkships a year). I solicited feedback and one thing I got, universally, was that I should have used something from 2L year. I still think that 1L memo was a decent piece of writing (it helped me land a good SA), but yeah, all the clerks I talked to said I should have used something else.

lolwat
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby lolwat » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:06 pm

About what writing sample to use, I mean if you have something 2L year, sure, but especially now that hiring plan is 3 months earlier than it used to be, and a lot of judges accept earlier applications, what can you really do when all you have are fall and spring of 1L and fall of 2L?

I would ask the clerk/judge first before you use it. But, do you have kind of an introduction to your writing sample? Like a cover page or paragraph that describes what the sample is or puts it in context? If so just put a sentence in there that makes it clear that the decision ultimately came out the other way. That doesn't mean your reasoning was wrong, a lot of times decisions can go either way.

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:17 pm

bump cause I still don't know if this is okay. any other opinions?

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ph14
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby ph14 » Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think my best piece of writing is a memo I wrote to the District Court Judge I worked for my 1L summer. It expresses my recommendation on a motion for summary judgment. The judge liked it and has said I can use it.

Unfortunately, the opinion just came out and the Judge came out the other way (though he used a lot of my reasoning). Do you think it would be a mistake to use it?


This isn't necessarily a bad thing. A lot of cases could go either way. And you sound like you would be able to engage with it a lot, which is the most important part. And keep in mind they might not actually read the actual opinion, as they are all pretty busy and reading your writing sample is plenty i'm sure.

hiima3L
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby hiima3L » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:08 pm

Did you say grant the MSJ?

If so, I probably wouldn't use it because 99% of the time, MSJs shouldn't be granted.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:12 pm

hiima3L wrote:Did you say grant the MSJ?

If so, I probably wouldn't use it because 99% of the time, MSJs shouldn't be granted.

I don't think this is true. There are a LOT of people bringing really DUMB lawsuits.

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emciosn
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby emciosn » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I would ask the law clerk. I cleared everything with her; now that something is on record this would seem to be particularly sensitive and I'd seek approval.

Also, some unsolicited advice: I used the EXACT same kind of writing sample for my clerkship apps. I struck out on clerkships (not crazy, but slightly surprising; EiC of the Law Review at a regionally respected school that sends out a handful of AIII and SSC clerkships a year). I solicited feedback and one thing I got, universally, was that I should have used something from 2L year. I still think that 1L memo was a decent piece of writing (it helped me land a good SA), but yeah, all the clerks I talked to said I should have used something else.


One thing I will say to back up what this anon said--I interned for a judge a semester in law school and I asked the career clerk about the propriety of using a memo produced in chambers as a writing sample. She said pretty emphatically no and that some clerks that are screening apps would find it offensive that you used this kind of writing sample. I guess the thinking is that these sorts of communications with a judge are sensitive and there shouldn't be any documents floating around in the world aside from the judge's final, published opinion that talk about how the judge came to a particular decision. Clerks in particular view these sorts of communications to be very sensitive.

I'm sure there are some clerks that don't care but there will be some that certainly do and would think that using this sort of writing sample is inappropriate. So, on balance it may be safer to just go with something else if you have it. That is probably why the above anon got the sort of responses she/he did. I personally used something else.

As an aside Its not that hard to find an excuse to write something and produce an accceptable writing sample. I feel like I see so many people lamenting that they only have their 1L memo or a memo created during an internship that they can use. Like it is only acceptable to write when you are forced to do so. There are a ton of little monthly bar journals out there that are not all that difficult to get published in if you pick the right topic. These article are often fairly short and easy to reasearchand and would be a good length for a writing sample. Plus, doing some writing that was not assigned by a profesor/employer shows some iniative and will help to get you noticed/stand out which is tough to do in today's hiring climate.

ETA: even if the article doesn't get published you still have a writing sample and the fact that you tried reflects well on you. If you don't get published it would probably be because someone else just submitted an article on your topic or something so the explanation for why the article was not publish would not reflect poorly on you either.

Just my two cents.

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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:21 am

emciosn wrote:One thing I will say to back up what this anon said--I interned for a judge a semester in law school and I asked the career clerk about the propriety of using a memo produced in chambers as a writing sample. She said pretty emphatically no and that some clerks that are screening apps would find it offensive that you used this kind of writing sample. I guess the thinking is that these sorts of communications with a judge are sensitive and there shouldn't be any documents floating around in the world aside from the judge's final, published opinion that talk about how the judge came to a particular decision. Clerks in particular view these sorts of communications to be very sensitive.


I'm a clerk in that camp. As a 1L applying for 2L firm jobs, I used a redacted/name changed bench memo as a writing sample for OCI (with my judge's permission, of course). I'm a second-year COA clerk now, and I just applied for a job a short while ago. I vacillated between using a bench memo from chambers and using an academic piece, but ended up going with the latter -- even with name changes, etc., it doesn't take much to figure out which case it is, defeating the whole point of "anonymizing" the work. (This is especially true when much of the bench memo ends up in the final opinion.) I'm of the view that one should steer clear from using chambers work product as writing samples, though I wouldn't necessarily screen you out if you did use a bench memo. (On the other hand, if you submit an order or an opinion -- even with your judge's permission -- that is an auto-ding for me.)

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:13 am

I find that so interesting because I've used an order (federal district court) as a writing sample - with my judge's absolute knowledge and blessing; he had no problem at all with me using anything that was public record - and not run into any problems. Admittedly, I didn't use it for clerkship applications, just job applications. My state COA judge expressly expected his clerks to use an opinion as a writing sample. I'm not at all saying this to say, it is too okay to use such a sample!; I can see why people would have a problem with it. I just find it interesting how different courts/judges have different takes on the issue. (I guess I was never in a court that took the invisibility of clerks very seriously.)

Citizen Genet
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Re: Writing Sample Question

Postby Citizen Genet » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:29 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I find that so interesting because I've used an order (federal district court) as a writing sample - with my judge's absolute knowledge and blessing; he had no problem at all with me using anything that was public record - and not run into any problems. Admittedly, I didn't use it for clerkship applications, just job applications. My state COA judge expressly expected his clerks to use an opinion as a writing sample. I'm not at all saying this to say, it is too okay to use such a sample!; I can see why people would have a problem with it. I just find it interesting how different courts/judges have different takes on the issue. (I guess I was never in a court that took the invisibility of clerks very seriously.)


Yeah, there's huge disparity between judges on the subject. I know a judge that writes a writing sample cover letter on behalf of interns to let anyone reading that he approved it and comments on their work generally. This same judge liked writing samples from judicial interships since it was the most similar to what the applicant would be doing. Contrast that with judges I also know who trash ANY application if the individual uses a writing sample from chambers, published or otherwise. The best thing applicants can do is try to find out specifics about a judge. In the absence of that, I recommend not using one to avoid being filtered immediately.




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