Past Judicial Opinions as Writing Samples

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Snowy Shaw

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Past Judicial Opinions as Writing Samples

Postby Snowy Shaw » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:00 pm

3L currently applying for clerkships for next year (hurray for surprise no offer), and for one of my writing samples, I was thinking about including one of the opinions I helped draft for a state court appellate judge I externed for my 1L year.

Would it be acceptable to have that as one of my writing samples, so long as I explained in the writing sample cover letter what it was about? I also planned to include a pro bono memo I did over the summer as the "main" writing sample.

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BVest

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Re: Past Judicial Opinions as Writing Samples

Postby BVest » Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:37 pm

Snowy Shaw wrote:3L currently applying for clerkships for next year (hurray for surprise no offer), and for one of my writing samples, I was thinking about including one of the opinions I helped draft for a state court appellate judge I externed for my 1L year.

Would it be acceptable to have that as one of my writing samples, so long as I explained in the writing sample cover letter what it was about? I also planned to include a pro bono memo I did over the summer as the "main" writing sample.

You'll want to check with the judge/look back on the policies you were given at the time of your externship. Many judges would not permit this.
Last edited by BVest on Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

JusticeJackson

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Re: Past Judicial Opinions as Writing Samples

Postby JusticeJackson » Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:38 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

WheninLaw

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Re: Past Judicial Opinions as Writing Samples

Postby WheninLaw » Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:43 pm

Snowy Shaw wrote:3L currently applying for clerkships for next year (hurray for surprise no offer), and for one of my writing samples, I was thinking about including one of the opinions I helped draft for a state court appellate judge I externed for my 1L year.

Would it be acceptable to have that as one of my writing samples, so long as I explained in the writing sample cover letter what it was about? I also planned to include a pro bono memo I did over the summer as the "main" writing sample.


1. Ask your judge. S/he will likely want to see it.

2. You should be very honest in the cover letter about your role in the opinion and how much editing their was by clerks/judge.

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rpupkin

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Re: Past Judicial Opinions as Writing Samples

Postby rpupkin » Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:19 pm

The other posters are right to recommend that you ask your judge about using an opinion as a writing sample. But even if you get permission to use it, I advise against doing so. I think it makes some judges uncomfortable to see an applicant use a judicial opinion as a writing sample, even if the authoring judge gave permission. A well-written bench memo is safer (and also more helpful as a writing sample).

If the state appellate court judge really liked you, ask him to write a letter explaining what a nice job you did drafting that opinion for him. But I wouldn't use the opinion itself as a writing sample.

Snowy Shaw

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Re: Past Judicial Opinions as Writing Samples

Postby Snowy Shaw » Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:36 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone. I have some other good writing samples I can use instead, but using something I previously wrote for another judge sounded good in my head. I can see now why it's probably not the best idea.



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