- On December 2, 2017
Law firm employers (and sometimes companies) ask legal candidates for writing samples. What exactly are they looking for? Here are 5 tips:
- Employers want something you wrote largely yourself. Edits by managers or partners are acceptable but should be light.
- How long should a writing sample be? A few pages is great for the reader to get the gist of your style. A section you wrote from a larger piece is ok. Long samples must be perfect and cover relevant subject matter, but don’t bore your reader to death. Impress them with your crisp writing instead!
- Choose a sample that covers a topic related to the job at hand. If it’s a patent job, a published patent application on relevant technology is ideal. For a litigation job, a filed motion in the field you’re applying for works (e.g., employment, commercial, securities). If it’s a compliance job you are going for, then a client alert or published talk is fine. If it’s privacy or tech trans, a sample policy or template agreement could work. You may need to provide some context (what party you were representing, what the goal was, etc.).
- Make sure the sample you give contains no confidential information. Redact anything sensitive.
- Choose a sample that’s been proofed and showcases excellent writing, obviously. A writing sample is a little like references –you are doing the choosing, so it’d better be good!