Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

I don't have a writing sample

I see a lot of job ads posted that I would like to apply for fettywap08/01/17
Have anything from law school you could spruce up? junkwired08/01/17
I guess I could pull a writing from my old practice and chan fettywap08/01/17
I send the legal argument section of a procedural appeal I h vohod08/02/17
I would send the entire document of whatever sample you end junkwired08/02/17
Write something. jeffm08/01/17
Jeffm is right. Just create 1 from scratch. Make it between thirdtierlaw08/02/17
Just draft a memo about a random topic. sillydood08/02/17
Why don't you have one? What kind of law job do you do that spaghetti08/02/17
Actually, there really aren't a lot of law jobs where you're onehell08/02/17
Write an article for your local bar association publication. t3success08/02/17
Write one. ANn article for your local bar, a letter brief isthisit08/02/17
I wouldn't create one from scratch. Who feels like doing tha specv31308/02/17
More importantly OP: if you make a decent living doing what vohod08/02/17
Okay. I don't have anything I would want to use that's been fettywap08/02/17
OP: need more information. Where are you applying? If it is nighthawk08/02/17
"I could pull something interesting I wrote several years ag wolfman08/02/17
I was thinking I could pull an interesting old civil rights fettywap08/02/17
For a lot of jobs they seem to want them to be no longer tha notreallyalawyer08/21/17
fettywap (Aug 1, 2017 - 10:46 pm)

I see a lot of job ads posted that I would like to apply for. However, they all request a writing sample. I don't really do the type of writing in my current job that would qualify as a writing sample. What do you do about the writing sample requirement if you don't really have one?

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junkwired (Aug 1, 2017 - 11:48 pm)

Have anything from law school you could spruce up?

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fettywap (Aug 1, 2017 - 11:53 pm)

I guess I could pull a writing from my old practice and change it around. What do you use as your writing sample? Like do I send a whole motion for summary judgment or do you all just send a few pages of the brief?

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vohod (Aug 2, 2017 - 12:25 am)

I send the legal argument section of a procedural appeal I handled. I don't send the facts or the restatement of the law and procedures.

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junkwired (Aug 2, 2017 - 11:28 am)

I would send the entire document of whatever sample you end up sending, unless the employer indicates they expect only x # of pages. The reason is simply that a request for a writing sample does not imply the employer wants anything less than a complete document.

If you do not have much experience in writing formal legal memoranda, e.g., motions for summary judgment, then I caution against drafting such document for purposes of your writing sample. You don't want the employer, who is probably fairly experienced in drafting and reviewing formal memos, seeing all the errors you will inevitably make - these documents take some practice and experience to get down. Instead, create or edit an informal writing sample related to the law. An example would be an article on a legal issue, or as I originally recommended, a spruced up piece of writing from your law school days.

For my first position as an associate I went against the grain of my own advice and drafted a memorandum of law in support of a party's motion for summary judgment on some random issue. I'm pretty sure I got the job despite the writing example (partner and I 'clicked', and the position wasn't writing intensive -- it was an estate planning gig).

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jeffm (Aug 1, 2017 - 11:53 pm)

Write something.

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 2, 2017 - 6:20 am)

Jeffm is right. Just create 1 from scratch. Make it between 5 and 9 pages long. You can make it something relevant to what these firms do.

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sillydood (Aug 2, 2017 - 12:43 am)

Just draft a memo about a random topic.

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spaghetti (Aug 2, 2017 - 1:33 am)

Why don't you have one? What kind of law job do you do that doesn't require some kind of formal writing?

I would be more worried about that than not having a sample. But perhaps that's because I'm in lit and someone without extensive writing experience would be a huge red flag.

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onehell (Aug 2, 2017 - 3:17 pm)

Actually, there really aren't a lot of law jobs where you're spending a lot of time arguing novel legal issues. You're not going to be writing appellate briefs at your workers comp mill or whatever, it's mostly cut-and-paste. And if you're transactional the last thing you want to do is make something up from scratch, you're probably just tweaking something you found on practical law or whatever. Law school and internships will give you writing samples, but actual jobs? Not so much.

Unless you've been a litigator regularly working in federal and/or appellate courts, real, original, substantive legal research & writing is not something you find yourself doing a lot, nor is it something clients particularly like paying for. And even if you are working in those venues, chances are you essentially ghost-drafted it for some partner, or it was heavily edited by others, etc.

We are a precedent-oriented profession. You find something from the form bank that has a track record of working and you use it over and over again, customizing only as-needed. Clients don't pay for you to reinvent wheels, and they don't want to sail out of safe harbors and into uncharted waters with novel or untested theories. So I suspect a lot of people have this problem once they've been out of law school awhile.

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t3success (Aug 2, 2017 - 6:16 am)

Write an article for your local bar association publication. My local bar runs a quarterly publication with recent legal articles submitted by lawyers.

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isthisit (Aug 2, 2017 - 6:28 am)

Write one.

ANn article for your local bar, a letter brief, law memo concerning whatever, etc.

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specv313 (Aug 2, 2017 - 8:39 am)

I wouldn't create one from scratch. Who feels like doing that on free time. Find something you did in law school and use that.

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vohod (Aug 2, 2017 - 9:38 am)

More importantly OP: if you make a decent living doing what you do & don't have to write, are you really sure you now want to enter a writing intensive world?

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fettywap (Aug 2, 2017 - 12:09 pm)

Okay. I don't have anything I would want to use that's been filed with a court in the past year. I could pull something interesting I wrote several years ago off Pacer and update it with new case law. It will probably take several hours to do that, but oh well. I don't mind writing briefs at all. It's just something I don't usually do in my current job. My current job is horrible. Not all these jobs are writing intensive. One is doing criminal work, but he still wants a writing sample for some reason.

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nighthawk (Aug 2, 2017 - 12:25 pm)

OP: need more information. Where are you applying? If it is a litigation firm then they want to see a brief that discusses litigation. If it is a transactional firm then they want to see something that is researched.

I agree with the above, if you are not comfortable writing then why go in that direction?

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wolfman (Aug 2, 2017 - 12:35 pm)

"I could pull something interesting I wrote several years ago off Pacer and update it with new case law."

I'd sent the thing you can pull from PACER and make sure it's dated; they want to see how you write, not the latest and greatest; of course, if you want to update it, no harm done...

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fettywap (Aug 2, 2017 - 1:02 pm)

I was thinking I could pull an interesting old civil rights case. So that would cover both civil litigation and sortof criminal too. I'm applying for civil litigation and criminal work.
I've seen some jobs ads actually say it needs to be a writing sample from the past year. I think if they know it's several years old, it will look bad. Plus, I could probably make it look better with some updating and just hope they don't ask too many details.

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notreallyalawyer (Aug 21, 2017 - 5:17 pm)

For a lot of jobs they seem to want them to be no longer than 5 or 10 pages. Usually they say don't submit anything longer than 10 pages. I do anywyas, if they only are willing to read 10 pages, why don't they stop reading at page 10?

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