Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Writing samples

For the law types who read this blog, I'd like your input on writing samples. I have a few that I've tried to re-purpose for use in job applications and interviews, of various lengths.

1. An appellate brief for an Environmental Moot Court competition in law school. Pros: it argues a particular position with footnotes and blue book style; it comes closest to the kind of writing sample an employer might expect. Cons: Like most moot court briefs, it was co-written, and to be fair I have to disclaim that. It's about 25 pages. Also, I wrote it 8 years ago.

2. Contractual documents supporting the sale of my parents' store. Pros: All documents were drafted this year. It's not hypothetical; it was used toward a real transaction. Cons: It's about 15 pages, and was not the final word. (The buyer's attorney eventually drafted that, and I had some say in its contents.) As a side note, it names the buyer and the terms of sale. I know my parents don't care, but is there an ethical problem disclosing information to potential employers that are not necessarily in any county records?

3. An advisory letter regarding a nurse's employment situation. Pros: It's not hypothetical. It's a very readable 4 pages. The names have been changed. Cons: It boils down to solicited legal advice in 2003, before I was licensed to practice law. The letter itself mentions this, and advises the nurse to seek a licensed opinion. Also, it makes repeated reference to a document by the nurse's employer that for confidentiality reasons cannot be attached.

4. An estate plan I drafted for a final exam in a law school class. Pros: I got a 95 in the class, so I did something right. There's an introductory letter which gives it context. It regards a fictional client, so there's no confidentiality problem. Estate planning is a professional interest of mine. And it's half as old as other law school writings, for reasons I won't get into. Cons: As Michael Vaughn would say, "It's long. Like, Tolstoy long."

5. A software license agreement I wrote for an Intellectual Property drafting class. Pros: IP law is a professional interest (though I'm not patent bar eligible). It's about 5 pages. It's refreshingly different in form and content from a traditional writing sample. Cons: "Refreshingly different" hasn't worked out so well for me in my career so far. It's 8 years old, practically an artifact in the software industry. Put it this way: it's got a section devoted to Y2K compliance.

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