We are often asked for guidance on how to choose a writing sample for a potential employer, such as a law firm, government agency, advocacy group, etc. These potential employers are looking to evaluate your legal writing skills so it is critical to choose a well-written memo or brief that represents your best work. We suggest that you consider the following additional factors in selecting your writing sample:
1. Authorship – it is extremely rare for a document to be the sole work of an attorney; therefore the goal is to submit a writing sample that was not substantially and substantively edited by partners, senior attorneys or clients. Minor cosmetic or stylistic changes generally do not constitute a substantial rewrite and can be considered for submission. Alternatively, you may consider submitting a draft version that was not edited.
2. Length – unless specifically instructed otherwise, opt to submit a writing sample between 7-10 pages. For example, submit a section of a brief instead of the entire document.
3. Provide context: if you are submitting a section of a brief or memo, include a sentence or two to provide some context for the reader. For example, “This writing sample is the submitted/filed version of X and therefore substantially reflects my work product as the primary author, with minor stylistic edits by the partner and client”.
4. Confidentiality – ensure that all confidential information is redacted from your writing sample prior to submission.