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Author Topic: Writing Sample Critique, Please  (Read 615 times)

BenjaminF

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Writing Sample Critique, Please
« on: January 13, 2011, 02:48:08 PM »
I'm posting (anonymously) in the hopes of getting some feedback on my writing sample. I'm hardly an author and by the time I've slogged through the question sections I suspect my coherency is pretty abysmal, so all concrit will be much appreciated! This is the sample for PrepTest 16, and I tried to transcribe exactly what I'd written, spelling errors and all.
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Zelmar Corporation should preferentially choose to move its offices to the new downtown location, as it can be leveraged into achieving the corporation's two goals: employee retention and increased profits.

In terms of retaining employees, choosing the downtown location will likely acheive this. With its proximity to the former office location employees will not have to significantly rearrange their transit schedule to accomodate the new site, and the accesibility of public transit (subway line) guarantees this. In addition, employees will benefit by not being forced to pay vehicle maintenance/use costs in order to commute to work. The downtown location will be attractive to the many corporation employees with young children who can make use of the nearby daycare centre. Diverse restuarants and shopping locations downtown make the site a preferable choice also as Zelmar's employees will be able to develop a strong raport with the local business and cultural community. This is a point of importance if Zelmar wishes to continue drawing clients from the general area. Segueing in to the financial benefits of remaining downtown; the new 'open-concept' office downtown may require a shift in office culture that will benefit the advertising company by promoting increased employee interaction and cooperation. In addition, the company's proximity to clients makes outreach easier and simplifies meetings, while sharing a locale will position Zelmar to clearly meet client requirements.

In contrast, the suburban location is likely to result in employee loss and financial losses. The net benefit in savings through rental costs will be born by employees who will have to put their salaries into commuting costs. Cheaper cafeteria food may not compare in quality to the downtown restaurants and will likely not be appropriate for client meetings. In addition, by distancing itself physically from its downtown client base, Zelmar risks losing its rapport with local business owners--its clients--an event that bodes ill for its annual fiscal profits. Employees may also be wary of trusting their children to the as yet non-existant daycare in the suburban complex.

In summary, Zelmar would do well to focus on shifting its corporate culture to a more collaborative approach in the new downtown location than to jeopardise both its client base (and thus fiscal well-being) and employee satisfaction, by moving to an isolated suburban site.


 

Graeme

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Re: Writing Sample Critique, Please
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2011, 04:04:16 PM »
Hmm, no one's answering.  I'll give it a try.  I think thing with writing samples is that both sides are about equal in their advantages and disadvantages.  There is no one right answer.  You may wish to more explicitly acknowledge the disadvantages of downtown, and the advantages of suburbia.

THEN explain why downtown's advantages aren't as big as they seem, and suburbia's disadvantages aren't as big as they seem. 

An interesting experiement to try would be this:  write the strongest possible case you can for suburbia.  Pretend you were answering this the other way.  Then, write this essay, arguing for downtown.  Take your strong argument for Suburbia, and stick it into the essay, and proceed to demolish it.

 The best arguments show why even the strongest argument of the other side is weak.  This type of reasoning becomes very important in trials and appeals.  The writing sample itself is not very important though, law schools usually don't give it as much consideration as they do to other factors.

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TLSanders

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Re: Writing Sample Critique, Please
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 09:46:43 PM »
Your structure is good and the fact that you've started with a clear statement of your position is, too.  But the previous poster is absolutely correct in that you need to acknowledge that your option isn't perfect and that the other option has potential benefits.  The prompt is constructed to make it possible to convincingly argue either alternative, and while it's important that you are decisive in your choice, failing to acknowledge that there are arguments to be made on the other side makes it appear that you don't see all of the issues--and it's important that an attorney be able to see all of the issues from both sides.

My only other suggestion is that you tone down the formality a bit in favor of clear writing and proper spelling.  There are several places where it seems like you've attempted to artificially use impressive-sounding or formal terminology, and in most cases that has resulted in misuse of a word (such as "preferentially") or a misspelling.  It's much better to be clear and correct in common language than to shoot for impressive language and fall flat.
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EarlCat

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Re: Writing Sample Critique, Please
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 03:25:20 AM »
Pretty sure this is the first time I've ever heard of someone practicing the writing sample.  It's not graded, and, as far as  I know, there is no rubric for grading it.  However, we can assume that a large percentage of the admissions people who might actually read it have a JD, so I would think a law school exam type approach would be useful. 

(Rumor has it most schools just check to make sure you didn't just draw a picture, so really, don't take this part of the test too seriously.)

The basic law exam format presents some scenario in which you are to spot "issues" and discuss the various arguments that can be made about them.  So if I were to take the LSAT again (and if I actually decided to take the writing sample seriously  ::)), I'd identify an "issue" over which you might argue one side is better than the other, come up with the strengths and weaknesses of each side regarding that issue, lather, rinse, repeat.  When time's almost up, pick who wins.

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Re: Writing Sample Critique, Please
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2011, 04:30:46 AM »
Ok, just because I'm up and I'm wired I'll actually critique the post. 

OP: Your first sentence is very good.  You've defined your position clearly, and previewed your reasons for choosing it.  Lose the word "preferentially."  It's just clutter in an otherwise elegant sentence.

Unfortunately things are downhill from there.  The first thing I noticed are your subjects.  You've got all sorts of inanimate objects and conceptual ideas as the subjects of your sentences:

choosing will achieve
acccessibility guarantees
location will be
restaurants and shopping locations make
'open-concept' office may require
proximity makes and simplifies
sharing will position
location is
benefit will be
food may not compare

Snore.  Changing the subjects can make your sentences more active You can make your sentences more active by changing the subjects: 

"In terms of retaining employees, choosing the downtown location will likely acheive this."
"By locating itself downtown, Zelmar will more easily retain employees."

"The downtown location will be attractive to the many corporation employees with young children who can make use of the nearby daycare centre."
"Employees with young children will find the downtown location attractive because of its nearby daycare center."
"Employees with young children will appreciate the convenience of the nearby daycare center."

Second, you didn't concede any of the good points to the other side.  There are times when this would be appropriate (such as writing an argumentative brief), but probably not when you're specifically asked to "consider both choices" and told on no uncertain terms that "a reasonable argument can be made for either."  Can you think of advantages to the suburban location?

For instance, you point out, "The net benefit in savings through rental costs will be born by employees who will have to put their salaries into commuting costs."  Fine.  But give us the yin and the yang.  "In the suburbs, Zelmar would save a significant amount on rent, adding to its bottom line.  However, the company may also find that employees facing additional commuting costs are more difficult to retain."  Did it actually say that commuting costs would rise by choosing the suburbs?  (I don't have PT 16's essay sheet)  If not, you might want to address the possibility that a move to the suburbs would be cheaper for employees who already live there or that commuter costs are offset by cheaper parking.  I'm sure there's some room for creativity to make things more interesting. 

Anyway, I think these few tweaks will make for a much better essay.  Hope that helps.