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Writing Samples & Follow-Up Letters/Notes

Writing Samples & Follow-Up Letters/Notes. Professor Dionne Anthon Professor Amanda Smith. Legal Writing & Job Hunting. Today’s presentation & sample documents will be posted to all Legal Methods II TWEN pages. Writing samples Interview follow-up letters/notes. Writing Samples.

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Writing Samples & Follow-Up Letters/Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. Omission Within Sample 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: [This section has been omitted due to length but will be provided upon request.]

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

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

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

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

  13. Sample Header

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

  15. Review Sample 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 Review any published papers referenced in your resume

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

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


  19. Follow-Up Letters/Notes

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

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

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

  23. Should You Send the Letter • If you have decided you don’t want the job? • Yes - the legal community is a small place • 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

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

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

  26. If you type . . . • Use high-quality paper • Not printer 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

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

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

  29. Who gets a letter/note? • Each interviewer should get a separate, personalized letter or note • Get the names from business cards, the receptionist, or the web • 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

  30. Contents of letter/note • Keep it short • One page, single-spaced, 2-3 paragraphs • Make it personal • 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 Tip: Jot notes about interviews as soon they’re over

  31. Contents of letter/note - Samples will be on TWEN • Most of all, remember to say “thank you” for his/her time • Summarize a few key points discussed during the interview or that you noticed at the interview • 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

  32. Contents of letter/note • 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

  33. Closing and polishing • 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.) • Closing: • Respectfully • Sincerely • Very Truly Yours • Signature over typed name • Blue ink • Proofread, proofread, proofread

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

  35. QUESTIONS? • Professor Anthon: deanthon@widener.edu • Professor Smith: alsmith9276@widener.edu

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