LLM References, Writing Samples & Transcripts
Employers will expect supporting materials from you, most likely at the time of the interview, but occasionally they will request that you send them with your cover letter and resume. Examples of supporting materials include reference lists, writing samples, and transcripts.
- List your references on a separate page titled in the same way as your resume (name and address in the same typeface and style).
- List your best reference first. If the employer only calls one person on your list, your first reference should be that person.
- Include two or three professional or academic references. Consider asking former employers, former co-workers who have moved on to positions of prominence, former professors with whom you’ve established some relationship, etc.
- List each reference by name, title address and email and/or telephone number, depending on the reference’s preference.
- Include your relationship to the reference, to provide the employer with some context. For example, “Mr. Smith supervised me as an associate at XXX law firm from 2015 to 2019” or “I was Professor Jones’ research assistant from September 2014 to May of 2015.”
- Ask the permission of each person before you put his/her name on your reference list. When you ask if the person is able to give you a strong reference, indicate that you hope he or she will be able to help employers picture you as a competent, dynamic attorney. Ask your references whether they would prefer written inquiries, e-mail, or telephone calls and proceed accordingly.
- Always bring copies of your reference list on job interviews. Please see the sample reference list.
You will also need a writing sample to bring to interviews and on occasion to include in mailings with your resume. Selecting a strong writing sample is very important. In recent years, employers have become more and more likely to ask for written work and to review it carefully as part of the evaluation process.
We encourage you to take a Legal Research and Writing course, and appreciate its importance. You may be able to use a piece prepared for this class as your writing sample when interviewing.
Here are some things to consider in choosing your writing sample:
- Look for a short (5-10 pages double spaced), well-written piece of legal writing that displays your legal analytical ability, perhaps a section of a brief prepared for legal writing class or a memorandum you have drafted. If you don’t have a good piece of legal writing yet, consider a piece of expository writing you did for an undergraduate class.
- Use strong, persuasive writing. Choose a piece in which you advocate a client’s case over a more general memorandum reviewing the law.
- Select a topic which is interesting, but not disturbing or politically charged.
- If you select only a portion of a piece of writing, add a cover page that describes the full piece and sets the stage for what you have provided.
- Always be sure your name is presented clearly on the sample. Believe it or not, leaving off the writer’s name is a common mistake on writing samples.
- In all cases, be sure to obtain permission from an employer before using any document generated in a “real-work” setting.
- Delete or change all names and identifying information of work-product produced for real clients.
- Be sure to use your own work, not work that has been heavily edited by others.
- Never use work you completed for a judge as a writing sample without his or her express permission.
- For U.S. employers, unless you have been told otherwise by an employer, your writing samples should always be in English.
You will want to be certain to have a copy of your writing sample with you on any interviews, and you may decide it is worth the cost to send a strong sample with any resumes and applications you send out.
The CP&P counselors cannot review writing samples, but you may ask your legal writing instructor to assist you.
You will not have a transcript to present to employers until sometime in late January. In the meantime, you should plan to send (or bring) your transcript from your law studies in your home country. Most employers will accept a good photocopy of what is plainly an official copy from your home country. You can then send your Penn Law transcript when it becomes available. If your home country transcript is very strong, you may want to provide a copy to all employers.
Once you get your grades, employers will generally expect to see your transcript. Note that, like many of our peer schools, the University of Pennsylvania Law School does not have a class ranking system or a GPA calculation. Generally, we find that this works to the advantage of our students in the job market. You are not permitted to estimate your academic standing in the class. We will not support any student’s claim to be in a particular percentage of the class.
You do not need an “official” transcript unless otherwise specified by the employer. You should print your grades off Penn InTouch by copying and pasting your grades into a document and adding your name at the top. You may not misrepresent your grades on your transcript. PLEASE NOTE: For security reasons your name is not printed on your Penn In Touch grade sheet. You must print or type the name in yourself. There is an example of this here.
If your academic record is not particularly strong, you may be reluctant to include your grades with your resumes when they are mailed to employers. In any case, though, you should have a transcript ready to present at all your interviews.
Remember that grades are only part of your overall record. Most employers realize that your grades may not fully represent all your strengths and capabilities. We have seen students who struggle to do well on law school exams, but have succeeded in finding desirable jobs because of their impressive background and prior law-related experience. Conversely, we know students who have outstanding transcripts, but were not very successful in the job market because they lacked the ability to relate well to other people.
Thank You Notes
Do you need to write a thank you letter to an employer after an interview? There are conflicting views on this point. Most often, the best crafted note will not get you a job you didn’t already have on the strength of your interview, but a lousy thank you note can cost you an offer they were considering awarding to you.
Moreover, thank you letters are not necessary in all situations. We have been advised by many attorneys and recruiting coordinators that 20 minute interviews during the New York Job Fair do not require a thank you letter. With that being said, thank you notes can add to your overall package. They can refresh the interviewer’s recollection of your meeting, refine a connection you made with him or her, and be an example of your clear, concise, and interesting writing style.
Some situations in which you want to follow up an interview with a thank you letter may include:
- Call-back interviews. If you choose to send a thank you note, these letters should be short and can also serve the purpose of explaining your reimbursement request, if they had agreed to pay your expenses.
- Interviews with smaller employers and public sector employers. These interviewers, whether or not they are participating in formal recruiting programs, seem to value the personal effort that a thank you letter takes.
- Informational interviews - you can use this as an opportunity to develop a continuing relationship with the attorney. You could, for example, write or telephone and see if the person would like to meet for further conversation over coffee or lunch or report back on any advice or contact that were suggested.
- When a personal contact has extended himself or herself to set up an interview for you, you should send a thank you note to that person. If this is a person you know well, a personal, hand-written note may be preferable to a formal business letter. You want to maintain, develop, and respect all contacts you have and make during your career development.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to write a thank you letter is yours. If you do write, here are some suggestions:
- Emailed thank you notes have become very common. Use your judgment as to whether the recipient of your thank you would deem an email appropriate or not.
- It must be perfect. No misspellings (particularly of the attorney’s or employer’s name), no grammatical or spelling errors, no merge mistakes. Check, double check, and triple check. Mistakes here can cost you a job offer.
- It should be short and appropriate in tone.
- If at all possible, personalize the letter. You can mention something you discussed during your interview (e.g. “I enjoyed hearing about your undergraduate experience studying in Italy…”).
- If you are sending a thank you, do it promptly after the interview (within a day or two of the interview).
If you have visited an employer and spoken with more than one interviewer, you do not need to write them all. Rather, address your letter to one of the attorneys you visited or to the recruiting coordinator, and ask that person to express your thanks to the others you met.