Writing Sample Page Length

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Writing Sample Page Length

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:56 am

Hello,

I am a 2L and in the middle of applying for a SSC Clerkship. The writing sample I am planning to use is an order I drafted for a federal district judge as a judicial intern this past summer. The order is short - around 6 pages in total. Is this too short? Other than that, I have my appellate brief from 1L year, but I like the order better.

Thank you

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:07 am

From what I've heard, that's on the shorter side but still OK. If the judges to whom you're applying don't say, e.g., "eight page minimum," then go for it.

My only concern is whether you're allowed to use the order you drafted as a WS. Ask your former chambers first.

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mjb447

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby mjb447 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:16 am

Six pages probably isn't too short, although it is a bit on the shorter side; most judges probably won't read more than the first few pages. Just make sure that it's enough space to showcase your reasoning and writing skills a little bit. For example, if it's 4.5 pages of intro/facts/conclusion with only 1.5 pages of analysis, you may want to find something else (particularly if the analysis is easy to do or "boilerplate," e.g. most Rule 60(b) motions).

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:42 pm

At the state of CofA I worked at over a summer the clerks told me they prefer a 5-8 page sample for what it is worth.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby ggocat » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:21 am

Anonymous User wrote: The order is short - around 6 pages in total. Is this too short?

No.

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rpupkin

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby rpupkin » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:51 am

Hey OP,

If you decide to use the order, make sure you attach a cover sheet in which you explain that the judge gave you permission to use the order as a writing sample.

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ArtistOfManliness

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby ArtistOfManliness » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:41 am

Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby wwwcol » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:12 am

ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby mjb447 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:20 pm

wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.

Agreed. If the six-page order doesn't provide enough space to showcase your organizational or thinking skills, it's probably not going to help you get hired and it'll just be more for the judge/clerk to wade through.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:02 pm

I don't know if this was the right choice or not but I used a ~6 page sample that I though showcased my writing well but in my introduction to it I noted that if a longer sample is preferred I can provide one. I don't anyone will take me up on that but I thought it was a nice way of addressing the potential problem and if people liked my resume but found that an unredeemable flaw they might ask for it.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby ArtistOfManliness » Wed Sep 28, 2016 4:48 pm

wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.


But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby rpupkin » Wed Sep 28, 2016 5:00 pm

ArtistOfManliness wrote:
wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.


But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.

Agree with this advice.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby mjb447 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 5:03 pm

ArtistOfManliness wrote:
wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.


But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.

I've also heard anecdotally that some judges frown upon using a 1L brief, the theory being that clerking is really writing intensive and you don't appear to be producing high-quality writing often enough.

Anonymous User wrote:I don't know if this was the right choice or not but I used a ~6 page sample that I though showcased my writing well but in my introduction to it I noted that if a longer sample is preferred I can provide one. I don't anyone will take me up on that but I thought it was a nice way of addressing the potential problem and if people liked my resume but found that an unredeemable flaw they might ask for it.

TBH, unless there aren't many applicants or you're really a standout in some other way, if a short writing sample is a dealbreaker they'll probably just interview a candidate with a longer one. That's generally just how clerkship hiring is considering how many people are chasing these positions.

That said, the general consensus is that six pages is fine as long as it showcases your writing well, which you think it does.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby wwwcol » Wed Sep 28, 2016 6:48 pm

ArtistOfManliness wrote:
wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.


But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.


I understand the dilemma but submitting two writing samples is not the solution. We just throw out applications that fail to meet application norms (e.g. submitting more than one writing sample).

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby rpupkin » Wed Sep 28, 2016 6:58 pm

wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:
wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.


But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.


I understand the dilemma but submitting two writing samples is not the solution. We just throw out applications that fail to meet application norms (e.g. submitting more than one writing sample).

Wow. I don't doubt wwwcol's anecdote, but I suspect it's rather unrepresentative. It's not unusual to get an extra letter of rec or writing sample. While those extra materials are not necessarily read by the clerks or the judge, we certainly didn't throw out the entire application just because they were included. I think that's an odd thing to do.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby lavarman84 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:45 pm

rpupkin wrote:
wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:
wwwcol wrote:
ArtistOfManliness wrote:Agree with the above. But, TBH, I might not be able to decide if I want to interview someone based on a six-page order. Organization is not necessarily clear and you might not be able to fully develop complex ideas. Consider submitting both the six-page order and the longer 1L brief (in that order).


If a six-page order is too short, the proper answer is to find a better writing sample, not to submit two.


But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.


I understand the dilemma but submitting two writing samples is not the solution. We just throw out applications that fail to meet application norms (e.g. submitting more than one writing sample).

Wow. I don't doubt wwwcol's anecdote, but I suspect it's rather unrepresentative. It's not unusual to get an extra letter of rec or writing sample. While those extra materials are not necessarily read by the clerks or the judge, we certainly didn't throw out the entire application just because they were included. I think that's an odd thing to do.


I'm a bit confused. Your advice was to include an additional writing sample. Would you read the second writing sample if the first was unsatisfactory (in terms of length, not substance)?

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby rpupkin » Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:56 pm

lawman84 wrote:I'm a bit confused. Your advice was to include an additional writing sample. Would you read the second writing sample if the first was unsatisfactory (in terms of length, not substance)?

I don't think I've offered any advice on that topic in this thread. I did agree with ArtistofManliness's statement, which applies to the OP's particular circumstances. ("But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.").

As far whether a second writing sample would get read in my chambers, it might. Most applicants got screened out because their law school/class-rank combo wasn't good enough. For those that made the cut, we'd look over writing samples, but it's not like we'd read them super carefully. If someone submitted more than one sample (which happened occasionally), we'd skim both, most likely.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby lavarman84 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:00 pm

rpupkin wrote:
lawman84 wrote:I'm a bit confused. Your advice was to include an additional writing sample. Would you read the second writing sample if the first was unsatisfactory (in terms of length, not substance)?

I don't think I've offered any advice on that topic in this thread. I did agree with ArtistofManliness's statement, which applies to the OP's particular circumstances. ("But if your only other option is to submit only your 1L brief, I suggest submitting the six-pager in addition. Nothing is more boring to read than a 1L brief.").

As far whether a second writing sample would get read in my chambers, it might. Most applicants got screened out because their law school/class-rank combo wasn't good enough. For those that made the cut, we'd look over writing samples, but it's not like we'd read them super carefully. If someone submitted more than one sample (which happened occasionally), we'd skim both, most likely.


Okay. Gotcha.

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Re: Writing Sample Page Length

Postby hdivschool » Thu Sep 29, 2016 12:15 am

I'd probably submit both. 6 pages could be long enough to showcase your writing and analytical abilities, but I doubt it. If you wrote it as an intern, it's probably too simple. The judge may like your application, but not care enough to ask for another writing sample, which is why I'd include both.



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