A good lawyer must be an excellent writer. Often as part of the job search process, potential employers will ask to see samples of your legal writing. You should carefully select the writing sample you intend to submit as it may well form the basis of an employer's opinion about the overall quality of your writing skills. A good writing sample alone will probably not get you a job, but a poor writing sample may very well prevent you from getting an offer.
Choosing an Appropriate Writing Sample
Prospective employers are looking for a concise (5-7 pages) legal analysis of an issue. The key to a good writing sample is your writing style and analysis: the document should frame and analyze the issue, and come to some sort of conclusion based upon the analysis.
You can use a written work product from a legal job or internship, or one of the documents you prepared for your Legal Research and Writing class.
You may want to consider including a non-legal document with your legal writing sample. This can be especially effective for intellectual property positions (such as technical articles or published research) or as a reflection of your writing skills in general.
When in doubt, ask the employer what kind of writing sample is most appropriate.
Preparing Your Writing Sample
Prepare your writing sample in advance. Have one ready if an employer asks for one as part of an application package or during an interview/office visit.
If you know you have done better or can do better, then don't submit a poor quality sample. Rewrite or edit the document if necessary.
Work with your Legal Research and Writing instructor. Solicit the opinion of the attorney or judge for whom you originally drafted the memo or brief.
If you intend to use a written work product from a legal job or internship, make sure it does not contain confidential information. When in doubt, check with your supervising attorney or judge. You may be able to black out the confidential information.