I am the hiring director for an international legal research firm. Recently we were in the market to hire several students to assist with legal research. The job title was Researcher. Many students took themselves out of the running before we even looked at the resume. That was before we looked at the school, class rank, law review, or law school activities. Why?
1. Our advertisement clearly stated we were a research firm, looking to hire students to work as researchers. As a writing sample, a number of students sent the appellate brief they wrote for a required brief writing class. If it is a research institute and you will be working as a researcher, send a research writing sample. You do not need to be on law review to have a researched paper as a writing sample.
2. Several students wanted to know if they would have to do more then cite check. Enough said.
3. Informality. An alarming number of applicants wrote letters of a tone they would write to their mother. Most students were formal in their initial letter, but my response to their initial contact, in which I addressed them as Mr. or Ms., somehow signaled them that we were on a first name basis, with their referencing books, television shows, and movies.
4. Referencing television shows. A reference to Law & Order, CSI, or any number of other television shows makes me ask, where is your reality?
5. Getting the facts wrong. I responded to every initial inquiry, describing the work, which included a variety of projects. Replies that did not read what I had written, the whole two paragraphs, were discarded. This includes one person thinking it was one massive project and another wanting to know when she should buy her airplane ticket to move to New York for the summer. We are not located in New York. We simply advertised in a New York publication.
6. Again, not reading. One student sent a letter stating that he was not comfortable disclosing personal information about himself, and therefore, was only going to provide a resume and writing sample. The advertisement said, "send your resume, a writing sample, and describe your experience and interest in international business organizations.”
7. Too much information. One student wrote how he had spent 6 months bumming around California and another bumming around Utah, but now, like his eldest sister, he wanted to be just like his father and work as a lawyer. hello?
For all the students posting here, remember to take all of the posting with the above in mind.