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TheLegalSeagull

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  1. I say this with the utmost hesitance since I am a first year associate myself. I think the ideal writing sample is one that best showcases your legal analysis and writing abilities: factums/memos/opinions > pleadings/affidavits etc. I think the most ideal type of writing sample, if suitable for the place you are applying to, is the first draft of a factum you wrote (or a portion thereof). It best demonstrates your research/analysis/writing skills given also that it is usually more polished than an internal research memo you write. It may well have become public record, which reduces the confidentiality concern (relative to say, a redacted legal opinion). I suggested using the first-draft because then you could credibly say that it is your independent work product. In all cases I check with the counsel for whom I delivered the product to make sure they are fine with using the work product as a writing sample. On Word, I highlight any identifying information in black (names, ages, indentifying locations etc.), or replace the noun with an initial in square brackets (Mr. [X], Ms. [Y]) if it is necessary to understand what is being explained. I then convert to PDF, so that the black-redactions cannot be easily removed. Adobe Acrobat has a function for permanently redacting text as well. I think there is nothing wrong with taking a research memo you wrote, redacting it it eliminate all client info, and asking counsel whether they have any issue with using it as a writing sample to apply elsewhere (assuming it is no secret that you are seeking work elsewhere). With all the above said, if I was applying to a law firm with a specific practice, and I wrote some critical analysis piece in law school (paper, moot factum etc.) that was squarely within that practice area, I would use that. In all cases, I make a cover letter briefly describing the document, where and how it was prepared, and providing some generalized background factual info regarding the legal argument/analysis made in the document. Providing that background info could help you eliminate the 'facts' section of the document.
  2. I mirror LEJ's comments above, and add one personal opinion/observation. One of the most crucial things necessary to my growth as a young lawyer is to always remember that I am still a 'student' with so, so much to learn. This does not mean that I can't be confident about my skills and the value I can bring to any client, nor does it mean that I shouldn't constantly exercise my own strategy, critical-thinking and problem solving skills (and expect others to do so). It just means that I have to constantly look at my trusted colleagues, mentors, principals etc., as a constant source of learning (and this should never really cease). I think most senior colleagues/mentors/principals expect that attitude from me as well. I actually find it easier to do this as a recent call in his mid 20's, because I'm somewhat used to assuming the role of a 'student,' something I've done my whole life. I'm therefore respected and trusted precisely for 'knowing my place.' Sometimes I see colleagues who entered into the law with a previous career struggle a little bit with this; precisely because they are not used to being a 'student' and it may bruise the ego a bit to be back at the bottom of the pecking order. There are pros: I think mature entrants into this profession tend to bring more confidence and practicality into their work because of their life experience. Because they may be from the same generation as more senior lawyers, developing friendship/collegiality may come a bit easier. However, despite the above, if a mature entrant forgets they are still a 'student,' it will reflect in their growth, practice management skills, and their work; other senior counsel can see that.
  3. It may well vary from office to office, since there is no uniform protocol, but in my experience applying to several civil & crown attorney offices (a year ago): no.
  4. If you read carefully, you would see I am responding to a post which asks about how many LOR should one send as a general rule of thumb, without being excessive, wherever a posting does not refer to LORs at all. So my opinion (on this specific question, not the original post) is based on my personal view that sending 3 LORs and 2 generic LORs is no better than simply sending 3 good LORs, but sending some LOR - even if not a glowing one - is better than sending nothing (although others may reasonably disagree - this is just what I think is a reasonable view).
  5. Again, purely speaking as a matter of personal opinion as someone who has no experience in recruitment: if you have three letters, include them, even if (hopefully just one) is mediocre or generic. If you have more than three, I would only include 4 or more if all the letters are very strong.
  6. Speaking as someone who articled with MAG, and had many MAG articling interviews before that, I would mirror everything mentioned by whereverjustice. Besides discussing practice area experience/interest relevant to the specific MAG office, posting-specific requirements and strong legal practice skills generally, all of my MAG office cover letters went at great lengths of showing why I was interested in public sector work. Weaving in a narrative of "undergrad volunteering & humanitarian work --> clinic and pro bono work in law school --> looking for more complex 'macro-level' legal challenges which benefit the public as a whole" was an effective way for me to both showcase my initiative and legal & interpersonal skills etc. while making a genuine case for being interested in public service (as opposed to money, prestige or the entrepreneurial/business-side aspects of legal practice). As you may note, the above narrative centered my interest in public service on the nature and implications of public service work, as opposed to an ancillary perk or feature. I also used the word 'leadership' a lot, which seemed to be effective (but I am in no way endorsing as being some form of buzzword they are searching for in a cover letter).
  7. Purely as a matter of personal opinion (as I am a fresh call who was never in a position of reviewing job applications), I do not see anything wrong with putting a comment in a cover letter / e-mail to the effect of: "Please find enclosed the requested materials, A, B and C. For your added consideration, I also enclose [reference letters 3 and 4]." It shows that I clearly read the postings instructions, but want to go above and beyond to sell myself for this position. I would especially do this for places that request specific reference materials, but not reference letters, and I want to include those letters anyway. For places that request a specific number of reference letters, I'd be more hesitant, but may still do it (for example: if my '3rd best reference,' in terms of quality, is from a lawyer for whom I did work in a practice area relevant to the job I'm applying for).
  8. Thank you Iheartcats and FineCanadianFXs! Your advice was very nunanced and helpful, and also re-affirms the general approach I thought was sensible.
  9. Hello everyone, I'm a long time lurker, first time poster. I have a niche question with respect to cold-calling etiquette. A little bit of background: I summered with my school's legal aid clinic and articled in a litigation-focused government office which did not hire me back, although not for performance reasons. I was called to the Bar just last week. I invested very little time during law school or articling on networking (too invested in the raw legal work that I loved!), but now that I am considering civil litigation opportunities in the private sector, it's time that I should. I am definitely a litigation generalist, having dabbled in a few different practice areas during summer/articling. My question is: when a firm has made a formal job posting, is it seen as inappropriate to cold-call/e-mail a lawyer from that firm for a coffee/informational interview, or request the listed recipient of applications (e.g. HR/office manager) to be placed in touch with a lawyer of interest from the firm for the same purpose? This really just comes from a desire to get to know a firm more intimately before making a formal application (and also wanting to avoid sending in cold applications) but I wouldn't want to do this if it's generally seen as disingenous or spoils a first impression before applying. This is of special pertinence as I just started seeking work now, and there is a mass of postings from various firms of interest. Thanks so much!
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