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Writing Samples & Follow-Up Letters/Notes Professor Dionne Anthon Professor Amanda Smith.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Samples & Follow-Up Letters/Notes Professor Dionne Anthon Professor Amanda Smith."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing Samples & Follow-Up Letters/Notes Professor Dionne Anthon Professor Amanda Smith

2 Legal Writing & Job Hunting Writing samples Writing samples Interview follow-up letters/notes Interview follow-up letters/notes Today’s presentation & sample documents will be posted to all Legal Methods II TWEN pages 2

3 Based on “Creating a Writing Sample” by Herbert N. Ramy Writing Samples

4 Choosing Best Writing Sample 1L Summer Job 1L Summer Job “Open” office memo “Open” office memo “Closed” assignment “Closed” assignment Beyond 1L Summer Job Beyond 1L Summer Job See above See above 1L appellate brief, LM III paper 1L appellate brief, LM III paper Moot court brief Moot court brief Memo, brief, etc. from job Memo, brief, etc. from job Seminar paper Seminar paper Law Review comment Law Review comment Other (e.g., articles) Other (e.g., articles) * warning permission preferable to “closed” 4

5 More Important Than Type of Document Chosen Well written Well written Grammatically correct Grammatically correct No punctuation errors No punctuation errors No typographical errors No typographical errors Not overly long Not overly long 5

6 Length of Writing Sample If employer does not indicate desired length: No right answer – advice here varies anywhere within 5-10 pages range No right answer – advice here varies anywhere within 5-10 pages range Recommendation: 8-10 pages Recommendation: 8-10 pages 6

7 Entire Paper Is Too Long Include most important section(s) of paper: Include most important section(s) of paper: Memo – Discussion section Memo – Discussion section Brief – Argument section Brief – Argument section If entire section is too long, use one or more of the better arguments If entire section is too long, use one or more of the better arguments 7

8 Omission Within Sample Indicate omissions of text within sample in square brackets: Indicate omissions of text within sample in square brackets: [Material has been omitted due to length but will be provided upon request.] Keep any sub-headings within Discussion or Argument and indicate omission: Keep any sub-headings within Discussion or Argument and indicate omission: [This section has been omitted due to length but will be provided upon request.] 8

9 Cover Sheet to Writing Sample Include the following information: 1. For whom paper was written and, if for a class, which class 2. Whether sample is solely your work or has been edited 3. Quick summary of factual scenario and legal issue(s) 4. Whether sample is written objectively or persuasively 5. Offer to provide entire document, if you had to omit any of it 9

10 Cover Sheet (cont.) Possible information: 1. If sample is from a class, grade received 2. If sample is from job, internship, clinical, etc.: Whether document submitted to court Whether document submitted to court Outcome of case Outcome of case Permission to use as sample Permission to use as sample 10

11 Changes to Sample If using an assignment, make changes based on feedback from professor If using an assignment, make changes based on feedback from professor Other potential changes: Other potential changes: Names Names Confidential or identifying information Confidential or identifying information 11

12 Format of Writing Sample Unless instructed otherwise: Font type/size – use basic, “readable” fonts (e.g., Times New Roman, 12 pt) Font type/size – use basic, “readable” fonts (e.g., Times New Roman, 12 pt) Spacing – double-spaced main text Spacing – double-spaced main text Margins – one-inch margins on all sides Margins – one-inch margins on all sides Page numbers – include at bottom of each page Page numbers – include at bottom of each page Header – provide your name & “Writing Sample” at top of every page Header – provide your name & “Writing Sample” at top of every page 12

13 Sample Header 13

14 Submission of Writing Sample Paper Paper Use high-quality paper Use high-quality paper Check all printed pages before sending Check all printed pages before sending Take extra copies to interview Take extra copies to interview Electronic Electronic PDF version PDF version Free conversion to PDF tools online - for example: Free conversion to PDF tools online - for example: Proofread, proofread, proofread!!! 14

15 Review Sample Be sure to review your writing sample before every interview Be sure to review your writing sample before every interview Do a quick KeyCite/Shepard’s on sample to determine if legal authority used is still good law Do a quick KeyCite/Shepard’s on sample to determine if legal authority used is still good law Review any published papers referenced in your resume Review any published papers referenced in your resume 15

16 How Many Writing Samples? 1L – 1 sample 1L – 1 sample Beyond 1L – multiple samples (choose depending on employer): Beyond 1L – multiple samples (choose depending on employer): Objective writing Objective writing Persuasive writing Persuasive writing Scholarly or practice-related writing (e.g., law review comment, seminar paper, article) Scholarly or practice-related writing (e.g., law review comment, seminar paper, article) 16

17 When to Work on Writing Sample Start NOW with your Office Memo!!! Start NOW with your Office Memo!!! Do not wait until you are interested in a job that requires a writing sample. Do not wait until you are interested in a job that requires a writing sample. Appellate brief? Appellate brief? 17

18 QUESTIONS? 18

19 Follow-Up Letters/Notes

20 Think about a time when you received a particularly meaningful thank-you. Think about a time when you received a particularly meaningful thank-you. What made that thank-you memorable? What made that thank-you memorable? 20

21 Why Send a Follow-Up Letter? Demonstrates courtesy Demonstrates courtesy Differentiates you from the crowd Differentiates you from the crowd Only 5-10% send Only 5-10% send Reminds the interviewer who you are Reminds the interviewer who you are Crucial if there were multiple interviewees Crucial if there were multiple interviewees Shows you care about the job Shows you care about the job 21

22 Why Send a Follow-Up Letter? Allows you a second chance Allows you a second chance To answer an important question you didn’t adequately address To answer an important question you didn’t adequately address To make a point you forgot to emphasize To make a point you forgot to emphasize 22

23 Should You Send the Letter If you have decided you don’t want the job? If you have decided you don’t want the job? Yes - the legal community is a small place Yes - the legal community is a small place If you are certain the interview went so badly that you are out of contention? If you are certain the interview went so badly that you are out of contention? Yes - you may be wrong about the impression you made Yes - you may be wrong about the impression you made 23

24 Handwritten or Typed? No right answer – can be one or the other or both No right answer – can be one or the other or both Things to consider: Things to consider: What is the culture of the firm or office? What is the culture of the firm or office? How formal? How formal? Larger firms and offices tend to be more formal Larger firms and offices tend to be more formal A judge would be formal A judge would be formal What was the tone of the interview? What was the tone of the interview? Where is the office or chambers located? Where is the office or chambers located? How well do you know the interviewer? How well do you know the interviewer? How legible is your handwriting? How legible is your handwriting? 24

25 Is Okay? It depends... It depends... Did the firm invite you to interview by ? Did the firm invite you to interview by ? Is the firm’s atmosphere very casual? Is the firm’s atmosphere very casual? Do you need to respond ultra-fast (i.e., you were ed an offer)? Do you need to respond ultra-fast (i.e., you were ed an offer)? Do they use extensively to conduct business with clients? Do they use extensively to conduct business with clients? Even so... Even so... Consider following up with “snail mail” Consider following up with “snail mail” NEVER use your account from a current employer NEVER use your account from a current employer Use a professional address Use a professional address NO NO Should be written in professional business format Should be written in professional business format Include message in the body of the , do not attach it Include message in the body of the , do not attach it 25

26 If you type... Use high-quality paper Use high-quality paper Not printer paper Not printer paper Not Elle Woods’ pink, scented paper Not Elle Woods’ pink, scented paper If you have personal letterhead, you should use it --- but do not use your current employer’s letterhead If you have personal letterhead, you should use it --- but do not use your current employer’s letterhead 26

27 If you handwrite... Use high-quality stationery Use high-quality stationery No “Hallmark” cards No “Hallmark” cards If you do not have personal stationery, it is okay to use résumé paper If you do not have personal stationery, it is okay to use résumé paper Use neat, legible writing Use neat, legible writing Consider typing first so you can spell & grammar check. Then, copy by hand. Consider typing first so you can spell & grammar check. Then, copy by hand. 27

28 When to send? A.S.A.P. A.S.A.P. Generally speaking, within 24 hours of the interview Generally speaking, within 24 hours of the interview Some employers will see timeliness as an important indicator of interest in the job Some employers will see timeliness as an important indicator of interest in the job 28

29 Who gets a letter/note? Each interviewer should get a separate, personalized letter or note Each interviewer should get a separate, personalized letter or note Get the names from business cards, the receptionist, or the web Get the names from business cards, the receptionist, or the web Take extra care with professional titles and the spelling of names Take extra care with professional titles and the spelling of names Use professional titles (Judge, Mr., Ms., etc.) unless you were told to use the interviewer’s first name Use professional titles (Judge, Mr., Ms., etc.) unless you were told to use the interviewer’s first name 29

30 Contents of letter/note Keep it short Keep it short One page, single-spaced, 2-3 paragraphs One page, single-spaced, 2-3 paragraphs Make it personal Make it personal Form letters are okay as a starting point but, unless customized, do more harm than good Form letters are okay as a starting point but, unless customized, do more harm than good Expect your letter/note to be circulated among all interviewers at the office Expect your letter/note to be circulated among all interviewers at the office Tip: Jot notes about interviews as soon they’re over 30

31 Contents of letter/note - Samples will be on TWEN 1. Most of all, remember to say “thank you” for his/her time 2. Summarize a few key points discussed during the interview or that you noticed at the interview 3. Comment specifically on why, now that you have gotten to know the firm better, this would be a great place to work and you would be an asset 31

32 Contents of letter/note Drawing a blank at what happened at the interview? Drawing a blank at what happened at the interview? Don’t panic – see whether the web site or finding one of the interviewer’s recent cases on Westlaw/Lexis gives you some ideas Don’t panic – see whether the web site or finding one of the interviewer’s recent cases on Westlaw/Lexis gives you some ideas 32

33 Closing and polishing Reiterate your appreciation Reiterate your appreciation State a plan-of-action if there is one (e.g., Enclosed is the writing sample that you requested at the interview.) State a plan-of-action if there is one (e.g., Enclosed is the writing sample that you requested at the interview.) Closing: Closing: Respectfully Respectfully Sincerely Sincerely Very Truly Yours Very Truly Yours Signature over typed name Signature over typed name Blue ink Blue ink Proofread, proofread, proofread Proofread, proofread, proofread 33

34 Practice, practice, practice Take opportunities to send follow-up & thank-you letters/notes Take opportunities to send follow-up & thank-you letters/notes Increases your visibility while networking Increases your visibility while networking 34

35 QUESTIONS? Professor Anthon: Professor Smith: 35


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