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Knew I Was Missing Something...

Oh dear. Y'know, it's a pretty bad sign that I've reached this point in my legal academic career and still don't have anything more than my moot court brief that I'd want to use as a writing sample. Whilst I've done a lot of good legal work over the summer, none of it involved the writing of particularly complex memoranda that distills into interview material.

Any suggestions?


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Um.... Wasn't a writing component part of your successful campaign to make law review? Or am I hallucinating again? Or is there some problem with using a law review competition entry as a writing sample? Since I never even tried writing my way onto law review I'm totally color-blind in that area of the spectrum.... :-)
Um.... Wasn't a writing component part of your successful campaign to make law review? Or am I hallucinating again? Or is there some problem with using a law review competition entry as a writing sample? Since I never even tried writing my way onto law review I'm totally color-blind in that area of the spectrum.... :-)
Hmmmmmmm... I have no idea how you got two entries of that last comment... I swear to Gawd I only clicked "Post" once... apologies for cluttering up your comments yet again. *sigh*
Trouble with having a heavily-modded install of MT. :) Sorry. The trouble with the law review write-on is that the references didn't have to be Bluebooked. So I'm torn between using something from this job, or going back and bluebooking the piece.
But most potential employers won't be as prickly about the Bluebook as the L.Rev. people are. So, it's not like you'd have to toil for months to make sure every cite is exactly in comformity. For what it's worth, I used my write-on entry.
Anthony, Don't sweat it. A lot of people are in the same boat. I didn't have anything to show as a writing sample other than my moot court brief, and I did just fine. I haven't had the pleasure of doing interviews yet (perhaps I will one of these days). I suspect it's much the same as clerk hiring. When my co-clerk and I were looking over resumes of potential replacement clerks, the writing sample was not a particularly important part of the process. Not that they never get read -- writing samples from interesting candidates got read. But it wasn't a primary sorting tool. There are two reasons for this. First, it's just too much work to look over a large number of writing samples; second, it's very hard to evaluate them fairly. A bad writing sample is an indicator of problems, but a good sample is a cypher, because there's no way to know if the person spent a week on it or a year on it. Grades are an evaluation help where everyone in on a more or less level playing field. It's not a perfectly level field -- random potholes here and there from unpredictable professors -- but it's more or less level. For these reasons (time, and ease of comparison), I think that many interviewers rely more on grades than anything else. (Explicit disclaimer, just to be perfectly clear: I'm not speaking for my firm; I haven't participated in the firm end of hiring; I'm just offering some observations that I think are widely accepted).
Essentially everyone at UVA uses their 1L Legal Writing brief... I was only asked for it once, and I highly doubt even that firm looked at it.
Good lord. We need a writing sample? What will they think of next...
I interviewed exclusively with New York biglaw and wound up with several offers. About 1/3 didn't even ask for a writing sample. No-one mentioned my writing sample during the screening interviews, and only one interviewer (out of a dozen callbacks--say 50+ individuals) asked me any questions about it at all. My strategy--which seems to have been wildly successful given my class rank (squarely in the middle), journal creds (didn't bother), and offers received (10)--was to treat each interviewer the way I would a chatty but otherwise unobjectionable seat-mate on an airline flight. Answer questions politely without droning on or getting into too much detail, and ask general, non-threatening questions whenever the conversation shows signs of an uncomfortable pause. Bottom line: You managed to get into a top-flight law school, so you're no dummy. With that in mind, they don't expect you to know shit about the law and aren't impressed by all the wisdom you've gleaned from first-year ConLaw. They just want some assurance that you're not a total dweeb and that they won't be driven to murder you when they wind up spending four straight 80-hour weeks in your presence. It's amazing how many people can't make it over that simple hurdle.

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