Dear 1L: OCI Writing Samples: 3 Steps to increase the odds yours is well-received by law firms.
by Amanda Haverstick
This article originally appeared here on writinglawtutors.com.
💌 Dear 1L,
OCI writing samples: 3 steps to increase the odds yours is well-received by law firms.
1️⃣ CRAFT A COVER MEMO.
Include a short, concise cover memo to introduce your OCI writing sample.
▫️ Do one for every OCI firm, regardless of whether it’s required.
▫️ Your OCI application packet should comprise parts that look like they all belong together. Make the heading of your cover memo match your resume and cover letter.
⭐️ Your cover memo is the first thing an attorney will read when evaluating your writing sample. You get to free-write, and besides a few items that should be included, the format and content are largely yours to decide.
🔹 Make sure yours is well-written!
I also recommend approaching cover letters with these thoughts in mind:
-What does your Reader need to know before starting your brief?
-How can you interest your Reader to go and actually read it?
I’m sure you’ve received your law school’s guidance on items that should be included in your cover memos.
🔹 Beyond that, try to be a little original (in what you say—and in your sentence structure, word choices, and style—not in form).
🔹 In other words, try to make yours NOT read exactly like the model your school provided. Make yours better-written and more clear and informative than that of everyone else.
2️⃣ REMEMBER YOUR NAME.
Many of the writing samples sent to me include no way to know which one corresponds to whom.
I had to go through several emails to figure out who had sent these unnamed writing samples.
🔻 A law-firm attorney might not bother.
Don’t let your writing sample fall through the cracks among the hundreds, even thousands, that a firm may receive.
🔹 At the very least, include your name clearly on the first page of your brief. (It’s not enough to include it only in the separate cover memo).
🔹 Better yet, create a small footer with your first initial and last name. That way, if any pages get separated, they are easily put together again.
3️⃣ REMEMBER PAGE NUMBERS.
Nothing frosts a Reader more than having to read something with no page numbers. (About half of you frosted this Reader!)
⭐️ I promise that including page numbers is essential.
N.B. Start page 1 on the first page of your brief’s text. NOT included in the page-numbering (or the page limit) are your cover memo, any title page, and any Tables of Contents or Authorities.
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Amanda is the author of the popular #Dear1L blog, founder of Writing Law Tutors, and legal writing coach for lawyers and law students.
Amanda previously spent 20 years as a Labor & Employment lawyer in BigLaw and as an in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company. She has also served as a career services consultant assisting law students at one of the nation’s top law schools.
I aspire to simplify and improve the quality of your law school journey and to promote your greatest possible success.
Read more at writinglawtutors.com.
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