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Writing Sample Help

Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:29 pm
by 64Fl
What the hell do you use for a writing sample (especially when I need two for some clerkships)? I could dig up my 1L brief and spruce it up. Otherwise, I haven't really written anything, unless you count a seminar paper and student note, both of which I would be deeply embarrassed to submit because they're typical academic pie in the sky BS.

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:47 pm
by pancakes3
i used a brief that i wrote at my job 1L summer. if it's for clerkships, your instincts are right - you need briefs. are you a 2L?

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 8:28 pm
by 64Fl
pancakes3 wrote:
Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:47 pm
i used a brief that i wrote at my job 1L summer. if it's for clerkships, your instincts are right - you need briefs. are you a 2L?
I'm a junior associate doing transactional law

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:55 pm
by Nony
I would say for the ones where you need two, use your student note as the second (or seminar paper if that's better) - I think one practice and one academic type sample work together.

As for one... if you really haven't written anything, yeah, I'd say spruce up your 1L brief. It's not ideal, but if it's what you've got, it's what you've got. I've seen people suggest writing something, but I think that gets kind of artificial and over the top. Since your other options are also law school pieces, they don't have much to offer that your brief doesn't, and the brief has the advantage of showing writing for practice.

(When I applied after my 2L year, I used my 1L brief; when I applied after my 3L year, I think I used a draft opinion I'd written for a tribal court judge in a clinic, and/or a brief I'd drafted as an intern in my state AG's office.)

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:33 pm
by Story
This one is tough. You really don’t have anything else? Maybe a research memo you did during an internship or at your current job?

Yeah, if you really don’t have anything else, then use the 1L memo.

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:45 am
by 64Fl
I did some writing during my 1L summer, but I can't use those samples (employer policy). I worked full-time for the gov't for a semester too, but I was writing draft decisions for the presidential-appointed board members (think NLRB decisions), so all of those bear the names of the board members. I also submitted a brief in DCt during a pro bono fellowship, but it was submitted under my supervising attorney's name.

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:46 am
by Story
When I was an intern, I wrote a lot of stuff, such as briefs or draft judicial opinions, that would later be edited and submitted under another person’s name.

I used those original unedited-by-the-employer drafts as writing samples. I would first ask the employer if you can use the original draft you yourself made as a writing sample after you change party names, scrub personal information like social security numbers, etc. If the employer gives you permission, then you should be good.

It has been a while, but You can just email your former internship supervisor or other appropriate person with authority and say, “Hey I worked at your org around 2014. I wanted to see if I could use a past memo O drafted for you as a writing sample. It was the memo on business transactions I did for the appeals department or whatever. I will change party names and remove any sensitive information.”

Then once you get permission, make a cover letter for your writing sample. The cover letter should say something like, “This is a memo that I wrote for XYZ company in 2014 during an internship. This memo is my own work and was not edited by anyone else [write this if true. If not true, you can say it was lightly edited by your supervisor or something, if true.]. I got permission from XYZ company to use this memo as a writing sample. Party names and other non-substantive info has been changed.” Or something like that.

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2021 8:46 am
by Nony
Oh yeah, definitely do what Story says if you can. It doesn’t matter whose name it got submitted under if you can offer it as a draft you wrote. The brief in DC would probably be good because you’re not breaching any kind of fiction that a judge’s writing is really their own that might sort of apply to the board members. (I’ve used a draft order written for a DCt judge as a sample before - with permission of course - but I have seen some people claim it’s inappropriate to “claim” any of that writing as your own.)

Re: Writing Sample Help

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:49 am
by Story
I never did transactional law, but you never did any research and writing? Like a memo on a discrete, uh, contract issue or something?