Careers Short Header Image 2

Writing Sample

Writing Sample

Most employers do not ask for writing samples at the beginning of the recruitment process when you send out your initial resume and cover letter. Do not submit one at this stage unless asked. More than likely, a writing sample will be requested later in the process, so you should have one prepared.

Your writing sample should be the best legal writing you have done. As a general rule, 5-10 pages will be of sufficient length. It can be a memo from a summer job, the writing competition note you submitted for the journals, a portion of a moot court brief, or part of a memorandum or brief that you wrote for Lawyering. If at the time you are applying you have a law journal note or a seminar paper, use that. Only use work from Lawyering if you did well on the assignment, and you feel that this first year effort reflects your current ability.

Additionally, you should proofread the document, check your bluebook citations, and make the changes recommended by your Lawyering professor. Once you have made the suggested changes, your Lawyering professor may review work from the Lawyering class. If you are sending something you worked on for an employer, be sure to obtain (and make clear to the prospective employer that you have obtained) the employer's permission to use the materials. Be very aware of confidentiality issues with memos and exclude client-identifying information. If you are working on a journal note, you might send a discrete 10-15 page section, with a synopsis of the balance.

Your writing sample should include a cover page. Write your name, contact information and law school name on the cover page. Also state the circumstances under which you drafted the document. If you are sending a sample that has been edited by someone else, indicate the circumstances. (Be aware that some employers, including judges, request a sample that has not been substantially edited by another person.)

You should also be sure to make clear why and when you wrote the sample - e.g., for a seminar in a particular course, as part of a memorandum for an employer, for a particular journal. (If you redraft an earlier effort, you should describe the sample as “based on a memo I wrote in our first year writing program”.) If your writing sample has been accepted for publication be sure to indicate that. If you are using as your writing sample an opinion that you worked on for a judge (for example, in a summer intern position), do not use the phrase “opinion that I drafted” or “opinion that I wrote”. Instead, indicate that you “worked on” the opinion. Be aware that some employers may not accept an opinion, or any other writing ultimately attributed to someone else, as a writing sample. Speak with someone in the Career Services Office if you encounter any difficulty in selecting a writing sample.

Transcript

An unofficial transcript will be sufficient for almost all employers. Request a transcript from the Law School Registrar, which you can then copy for mailed applications or scan into a PDF for emailed applications.

When you Request your transcript, you will have the option to include or exclude your GPA. This decision should be consistent with whether or not your GPA is included on your resume.

Reference List

Copy the header (e.g., name and contact info) from your resume onto your Reference List for a uniform look across your application documents. Then type "References" in bold type and list the names and contact info for your references. When providing your reference list in hard copy, it should be printed on resume paper. 

The references presented should have some relation to your work and study experience and not be solely social acquaintances. At least one, and perhaps two, of the references should be a member of the law school faculty (1L students should establish relationships with their Lawyering and/or small section professors to help this process). Undergraduate professors and prior supervisors can also be excellent references. Courtesy and common sense dictate that you request references' permission before using their names, so that they will not be caught off guard when an inquiry is made. It is a good idea to furnish your references with an updated copy of your resume to refresh their memories and to keep yourself and your job search fresh in their minds.