Help picking a writing sample

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Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Help picking a writing sample

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:34 pm

I'm having a ton of trouble picking a writing sample. I'm a 2L. Here's what I've got:

1) Several short motions from my 1L summer. All are 5-6 pages double spaced. All criminal law stuff.
2) Briefs and memos from my 1L classes. Got As in Legal Writing, these were actually pretty good, but, y'know, 1L memos. Roughly 1 pages double spaced.
3) My Law Review Note. 50 pages double spaced footnotes and text. I can pull a section out of it.

I'm applying to district courts and one or two COAs. I'm worried that I don't have a motion or brief from actual practice nearing ten pages. Is this killer? Has anyone else dealt with this problem or thrown out applications with shorter motions?

catinthewall
Posts: 149
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:50 am

Re: Help picking a writing sample

Postby catinthewall » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:47 pm

Did you do moot court or anything? I used one of the briefs I wrote for moot court, and it worked out for several reasons: (1) I could honestly say on the coversheet that no one else had edited it because the rules of the competition prohibited it; (2) I could talk about it in great depth because I had argued both sides of the issue numerous times; and (3) I could casually mention that it was the brief for the competition in which I had been the national champion.

As our chambers (Fed. Dist. Ct.) looks at writing samples, we absolutely prefer briefs or motions over academic writing. They give us a better idea of how well people could write the Court's orders. From briefs and motions, we can better see citations (from the blue pages instead of the white pages) and organization (e.g., CREAC or CRAC, etc.).

Make sure you check judge-specific requirements. Some judges specifically request academic writing. Some judges also request a sample of your non-legal writing (e.g., something from undergrad). Generally, however, I would go with a brief or motion.

I hope this is helpful.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Help picking a writing sample

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:51 pm

Didn't do moot court, no. Would it be terrible to use a 1L memo instead?

catinthewall
Posts: 149
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:50 am

Re: Help picking a writing sample

Postby catinthewall » Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:26 pm

If you think your 1L memo best captures your writing, and you feel very comfortable with it representing your writing abilities, then you should use it.

The only thing I would note about using a memo over a brief or motion is that memos are generally used for internal communication. Briefs and motions are adversarial in nature and can better display communications with the court and the opposing party. They make arguments and counterarguments. Briefs and memos also show deference and courtesies with your forum and how you treat both binding and persuasive authorities. In short, we can get a lot out of a court communication.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. If your writing is better in your memo, you should definitely send it. If it's close, I would recommend the brief or motion.

Side note: While a writing sample can definitely be "too short," longer writing samples have a greater risk of errors being present.




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