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


💌 Dear 1L,

OCI writing samples: 3 steps to increase the odds yours is well-received by law firms.


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.


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.


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.

* * *

💌 Amanda

Amanda Haverstick

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.


Dear 1L,

I aspire to simplify and improve the quality of your law school journey and to promote your greatest possible success.


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