Selecting a writing sample for OCI or On-Campus Interview can be a huge headache for law students. Read on to find answers to the most common questions and concerns and click here for the ultimate guide to formatting and selecting a writing sample.
What should I use for my Writing sample for OCI?
The writing sample you send to employers must be something legal.
Most students obtain their sample from one of the following:
- A sample from your 1L Legal Research and Writing course; or
- A sample from your summer internship or job.
Most students use something they wrote in LRW. This is because most students don’t have the opportunity to write something worthy of a writing sample during their 1L summer job.
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What if I don’t have a “Real World” Writing Sample for OCI?
Again, most students use something from LRW because 1Ls aren’t generally given assignments that can be used as a sample.
An exception to this is students working as interns to federal judges. Occasionally, these students will have the opportunity to write the first draft of an opinion or a memorandum that might be writing sample worth.
Will I be Disadvantaged if I use Something from My Legal Research and Writing Class for my OCI Writing Sample?
The resounding answer is no! Absolutely not. Again, very few 1Ls have the opportunity to write a memorandum or other legal document that can be used as a writing sample.
Anecdotally, I would guess upwards of 95% of my students used their LRW Briefs for their On-Campus Interview writing sample.
And those who submitted “real world” samples did not tend to fare better than those who used something they had written in LRW.
The truth is: your writing sample matters to an extent. Employers want to see that you have good attention to detail, that you care enough to submit a well-formatted sample, and that your writing isn’t riddled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Employers also want to gauge your written communication skills.
However, employers also realize the limitations of first-year law student legal writing. So spend significant time preparing your sample, but please don’t spend time worrying if you are using something from LRW.
My “Real World” Sample is Just Okay. Should I use it for my OCI Writing Sample?
Many students wonder if a “real world” sample is better than LRW, and they often ask if they should favor a work sample even if it is “just okay.” The answer is no! It is much better to use something from LRW than to submit a writing sample that is too short, doesn’t contain sufficient legal reasoning, isn’t your best work, or the like. When in doubt, use something from your LRW course.
“How Long is a Writing Sample for OCI?” and other Questions.
Now that you know the nuts and bolts of selecting the right sample for On-Campus Interviews, you need to know how to draft a cover page, how many pages your sample should span, and how to shorten your sample. Click here for the complete guide that will answer all of your questions about drafting the perfect sample.