Report: Employer Preferences for Writing Samples Based on Data Gathered from the New Legal Writers Survey
24 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 22, 2014
The New Legal Writers Survey (NLWS, http://nlws.web.unc.edu) is an anonymous, IRB-approved, online survey of legal employers. The purpose of the survey is to gather data about three main areas of inquiry: (1) writing samples preferred by employers: survey questions inquired about writing sample preferences tied to employer size and type (e.g., public or private sector) and stage of a law student’s career (e.g., 1L or recent graduate). (2) Document types that new legal writers write: survey questions inquired about the types of documents (i.e., “genres”) that new legal writers are expected to write at different phrases of their early careers. Questions also inquired about the methods that legal employers expect new legal writers to employ when approaching unfamiliar document genres. (3) Supervision of new legal writers: survey questions inquired about the methods used by legal employers when supervising new legal writers, the challenges faced by legal employers when supervising new legal writers, and the good and bad moves that new legal writers tend to make on the job.
This Report analyzes the preferences regarding writing samples only, expressed by legal employers who took the NLWS in the fall of 2013. The Report breaks down their responses into three areas of inquiry: (1) preferred document length; (2) preferred document type (i.e., genre); and (3) preferred document topic. We cross-referenced these preferences with employer type (e.g., private firm or public interest) in order to provide advice to law students who are applying to jobs so that they can best tailor their writing samples to the preferences of employers. The survey remains open on the NLWS website if you would like to participate.
Keywords: legal writing, legal supervising, supervising lawyers, law practice, legal education, empirical legal research, law practice, genre theory, legal genres
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