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Writing Samples

Be prepared to submit a writing sample, but only when requested by the employer.

 

Text

  • A writing sample should demonstrate your ability to analyze a legal issue and write clearly, succinctly and concisely.
  • Documents that are suitable:
    • the memo or brief from your first-year Legal Research & Writing class
    • an excerpt from your law review or journal note
    • an excerpt from a research paper written for a law school class
    • a research memo or brief written for a previous legal employer
    • the memo submitted for the law review/journal write-on competition
  • If you use a document prepared for a previous employer, you must obtain permission from your employer before using such a sample, and be careful not to breach any confidences or attorney-client privileges.  You may redact names and other identifying information from the document, but consider whether you need to explain the reason for the redaction in the cover page.
  • A writing sample must be your own work.  You should feel free to edit and improve the document before using it as a writing sample, but only if the edits and improvements are solely your work.

Length

  • Adhere to any page limit requirements set by the employer.
  • If no page limit is specified, as a general rule a 5-10 page document is ideal.  You may use an excerpt from a longer document.  If you do, be certain to explain on the cover page (1) the context of the larger document, and (2) any facts necessary for a full understanding of the excerpted portions.
  • If you omit internal sections of a document in order to shorten it, make this clear to the reader so they do not assume that your original document failed to address an important element of the analysis.  For example, if you are using a memo or brief that has separate sections, you could omit the text of the section but leave its title.

Cover Page

Proofreading

  • You should submit a writing sample that is free from errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, spacing and formatting. 
  • Print the document for proofreading.  You will catch more errors if you review it on paper, as opposed to on the computer screen.