How To Prepare A Legal Writing Sample For A Legal Job Interview |

How To Prepare A Legal Writing Sample For A Legal Job Interview


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Being prepared for a job interview is the main rule for legal jobs. You should prepare thoroughly by reading sample questions, drafting your own questions, printing your resume, and having your writing sample ready. It is important to have a writing sample ready even if not all employers request one. The following points will help you prepare for your legal writing sample in the best way:


1. Bring It With You To The Interview

Nowadays, everything can be accessed with a click. You would not want to email your writing sample mid-interview process if a partner or head of a legal organization asks for it. Prepare a printed copy to hand over right away. By being prepared, you will demonstrate your organization, reliability, and ability to make plans in advance.

2. Choose and Polish Your Sample Carefully

Writing samples can make you stand out on both the content and the presentation (think grammar and editing), so choose one that best demonstrates your abilities and then research and polish it. You may want to use a class writing sample if you are still in law school. You should submit a sample that is well written and contains no errors. Your sample should be less than 10 pages. You can work with your instructor to identify the strongest piece of legal writing. It may be possible to use what you learned from your summer internship if you are a second-year law student, but you may have to get your employer's permission and redact sensitive information. Make sure you review the sample for typos and grammar issues once you choose your strongest example. You might be requested to submit a sample that does not contain substantive revisions from your professor or supervisor. (Please note: some employers may want an unedited version of your sample.)

3. Understand It From Top To Bottom

Writing samples are normally discussed with employers. Make sure that you pick a writing sample that allows you to discuss it with confidence and ease. It is important for job applicants to provide not only a well-written sample, but it is also important that they are able to explain the contents in detail.

4. Create a Cover Letter

Your writing sample should have a cover letter that provides background information about the sample, such as that the sample was used in class (give a brief description of the assignment) or in the context of an employer (indicate that you have permission to use the sample). If a third party edited the sample (if any), and if it was taken from a larger document, you should specify. You should alter any identifying information (in a lawsuit, contract, etc.) if you are using a sample from your professional work.

This is a chance for you to demonstrate your skills in writing, editing, and legal analysis. If your prospective employer asks for your strongest piece, make sure you review it thoroughly before your interview and print it beforehand.

See Also: Law Firm Interview Resources

Writing Legal Writing Samples: Common Mistakes

The legal industry relies heavily on top-notch writing skills, especially for lawyers and paralegals. Most employers often request writing samples from legal candidates. Your chances of landing a job can be ruined by poor writing samples. An excellent writing sample, on the other hand, can give you an edge over the competition.

When you are in school and your early practice years, you should build up a portfolio of writing samples. Your best work should be represented in this portfolio.

The following are five common mistakes applicants make when submitting writing samples:

Poor Writing Sample

An employer is likely to overlook a poor writing sample if it includes fundamental grammatical errors, incorrect wording, poor sentence structure, or other problematic elements. Here are a few things to watch:
  • Sentence clarity
  • Word choice
  • Redundancies and/or inaccuracies in the text
  • Consistency
  • Tone and voice
  • Content organization
  • Flow and transitions
  • Sentence structure
  • Gaps in content
  • Presentation

Review your writing samples with a mentor, professor, co-worker, or other trusted professional. Recruit a tutor to help you improve your writing if you need some help with your skills.

Typographical Errors

Writing samples are often less scrutinized than resumes and cover letters, even when applicants are trying so hard to make them error-free. Many of the writing samples we have seen with typographic errors were published online or in law review journals or legal publications. You can eliminate yourself from consideration with just one typo.

Off-Topic Samples

Make sure the samples you submit correspond to the employer's request and the job requirements. Do not offer a paper on psychosocial behavior if you are applying for an associate position, for example. As an alternative, submit samples of your work that demonstrate your ability to perform the job that you are applying for. Apply with a brief, a motion, or a memorandum of law to the firm's litigation department if you are applying for an associate position. Please submit a resolution, escrow trust agreement, or another document to demonstrate your expertise as a corporate paralegal.

When submitting writing samples, always follow the instructions posted in the job ad or by the potential employer, particularly regarding:
  • Type of samples: The format, style, and content of the sample you submit (i.e., brief, correspondence, motion) should match the employer's requests. Create a new writing sample if you do not already have one.
  • The number of writing samples: Submit a reasonable number of samples. Two samples (one at a minimum and three at maximum) should be sufficient if a number is not specified. Only three writing samples are usually read by employers who are busy.
  • Length of writing samples: Your sample length should be determined by the employer. Employers tend to look for longer writing samples in the legal field (5-10 pages) so that they can see how well you can craft an effective legal argument and analyze law points.
  • The manner of submission: Employers may want samples submitted as an attachment to an e-mail or may request that they be mailed to their address.

Disclosing Confidential Information

A legal writing sample must be handled carefully due to restrictions regarding attorney-client privilege, sensitive information, and confidentiality. Writing samples from an old or current case or transaction, even if it has been closed or terminated, should be removed from sensitive or confidential information, including names of parties and names of clients. Substituting fictitious names, facts, and information will preserve the flow of your content.


Start gathering the necessary materials now if you are ready to start looking for your next job. Your law school transcript, a fresh resume, a cover letter, and writing sample should all be updated. You should make sure you are prepared for the interview and understand how to write a thank you letter. Get in touch with one of your recruiters to learn what is required of you in your job search and apply today!

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

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In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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