2.87/163

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androstan
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2.87/163

Postby androstan » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:10 am

I finished my master's work in chemistry this past January and decided to "take the LSAT just in case". I heard patent law was lucrative and the demand for technically trained lawyers was high. I was clueless. I took a practice test or two and that was all. I didn't apply myself in undergrad (North Carolina State) but I did double major in chemistry and biochemical engineering. I got my master's from Hopkins (3.64).

Since March I've been working at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) as a chemist. I've also been an adjunct faculty at the local community college, teaching chemistry. I'm married, was working 2 jobs, didn't give much mind to preparing for the lsat. I would typically get 1 or 2 questions wrong on the LR/RC sections, and basically miss half of the "logic games". I thought my neural synapses just didn't fire quickly enough and there wasn't much to be done about it.

Then I started looking around online and wanted to shoot myself. I bought a book of practice tests, took several. I've been practicing for a couple of weeks. My last 2 tests were 166 and 168. I just started the logic games bible and I think it is increasing my speed. I have my eyes set on 170+. If I could nail down the logic games as well as I do the other sections, that would mean 175ish. That seems like where I would conceivably max out at.

I'm signed up for the October LSAT and I feel the time ticking away. I hate my job, slogging away in a chemistry lab for hours every day is very boring and it doesn't pay very well. I still read chemical and engineering news in my free time. I like reading and thinking about research and technology. I think patent/ip law may be perfect. However, am I realistically getting in anywhere worth going with that GPA? My senior GPA was my highest, I was finally growing up and buckling down. Senior year was no cakewalk either, I took 21 credits my last semester and 18 my first semester. Among them were advanced engineering and chemistry classes.

I realize the legal market is saturated. Law school isn't worth it unless you can go to a t14 and be above median or a t50 on a full ride and be in the top 20%, or a full ride in the region you want to practice and be in the top 10%. The latter 2 I just pulled out of a hat, but I get the impression that things are like that. Are the first 2 realistic expectations for me with a 2.87? I know Franklin Pierce comes up all the time regarding patent law, but there's no guarantee I want to practice in NH or even New England. My wife is a professional also and I need to have the option of going where she goes. She's from NH actually, and would like to settle down around there, but it turns out that she has few career options in that area. Most of her career options are in the mid-atlantic. Yes, we live in Baltimore right now.

One conceivable option is to bump that lsat to 170 or so and try to ED at Gtown part-time. Basically squeak into the t14 by the skin of my teeth and offset some of the tuition by working. I donno. What do people think?

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TommyK
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby TommyK » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:49 am

The general wisdom of TLS is to have you make sure you want to attend law school. From the way you're framing it, it sounds like you want an escape hatch - some way to get out of a career you don't find fulfilling. That's as bad of reasoning as to get married because you're lonely. You'll end up with a solution to one problem, but a host of others.

Make sure you want to practice law. Also, understand what kind of commitment you'll be getting into.

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merichard87
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby merichard87 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:57 am

Hit 170+ and ED to Northwestern.

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:25 am

merichard87 wrote:Hit 170+ and ED to Northwestern.


If I were going to "reach for the stars" why not try for a place with some IP offerings i.e. Duke?

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:17 pm

Also, I don't actually want "biglaw". I don't want the 60-80 hour work weeks. I'd rather take 50 hour work weeks with a 100k salary.

Does that make t14 a lot less important?

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merichard87
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby merichard87 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:28 pm

androstan wrote:
merichard87 wrote:Hit 170+ and ED to Northwestern.


If I were going to "reach for the stars" why not try for a place with some IP offerings i.e. Duke?


With your lackluster GPA you are going to have to take what you can get. NW is very forgiving of low GPAs if you have Work Experience and a 170+. Duke not so much. Also, Virginia with an ED might be worth the app fee. And to me T14 is not necessarily only for biglaw. Those schools just give one the best chance at gainful employment.


But in your case I would apply to a ton of schools in regions you would be willing to work in and all the T14s you can afford.

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TommyK
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby TommyK » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:57 pm

androstan wrote:Also, I don't actually want "biglaw". I don't want the 60-80 hour work weeks. I'd rather take 50 hour work weeks with a 100k salary.

Does that make t14 a lot less important?


Do your research. Talk to patent attorneys and see how they got their start. Your questions are making me wonder if this is a flame.

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:39 pm

TommyK wrote:
androstan wrote:Also, I don't actually want "biglaw". I don't want the 60-80 hour work weeks. I'd rather take 50 hour work weeks with a 100k salary.

Does that make t14 a lot less important?


Do your research. Talk to patent attorneys and see how they got their start. Your questions are making me wonder if this is a flame.


Dear any patent attorneys on this site,

How did you get your start?

Sincerely,
Not Flaming Just Want Advice

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TommyK
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby TommyK » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:54 pm

androstan wrote:
TommyK wrote:
androstan wrote:Also, I don't actually want "biglaw". I don't want the 60-80 hour work weeks. I'd rather take 50 hour work weeks with a 100k salary.

Does that make t14 a lot less important?


Do your research. Talk to patent attorneys and see how they got their start. Your questions are making me wonder if this is a flame.


Dear any patent attorneys on this site,

How did you get your start?

Sincerely,
Not Flaming Just Want Advice


Alright, fair enough. I actually typed out a really long response and then my browser clicked back and erased it. I realize that my response was kind of douchey. My apologies. One thing you'll find is that the legal career is largely bimodal in terms of compensation for first-year attorneys. You'll find jobs paying around $50k, and jobs around $160k (adjusted for COL). Not a lot of jobs paying $100k.

If you don't want big law, that's fine. You can also work in a small boutique firm. There are some small boutiques that do IP law, but the folks I know that went in that direction are working considerably more than 50 hours per week.

If you want to end up being in-house with a biotech, chemical, pharma company, you'll most likely have to work in a major law firm and after a several years, try to get recruited away. I know a couple people who ended up working in-house right out of law school, but one person did it through a sweet connection (father was a major player in the company); and the other one networked his way into a general counsel position with a tiny start-up.

I hope some folks here are able to help you, but it may be worthwhile to try to network with some folks in person. Try your grad program in chem. They probably have graduates who ended up going to law school and practicing patent law.

You'll want to talk to them to make sure that this is actually the kind of work you want to do.

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:38 am

TommyK wrote:
androstan wrote:
TommyK wrote:
androstan wrote:Also, I don't actually want "biglaw". I don't want the 60-80 hour work weeks. I'd rather take 50 hour work weeks with a 100k salary.

Does that make t14 a lot less important?


Do your research. Talk to patent attorneys and see how they got their start. Your questions are making me wonder if this is a flame.


Dear any patent attorneys on this site,

How did you get your start?

Sincerely,
Not Flaming Just Want Advice


Alright, fair enough. I actually typed out a really long response and then my browser clicked back and erased it. I realize that my response was kind of douchey. My apologies. One thing you'll find is that the legal career is largely bimodal in terms of compensation for first-year attorneys. You'll find jobs paying around $50k, and jobs around $160k (adjusted for COL). Not a lot of jobs paying $100k.

If you don't want big law, that's fine. You can also work in a small boutique firm. There are some small boutiques that do IP law, but the folks I know that went in that direction are working considerably more than 50 hours per week.

If you want to end up being in-house with a biotech, chemical, pharma company, you'll most likely have to work in a major law firm and after a several years, try to get recruited away. I know a couple people who ended up working in-house right out of law school, but one person did it through a sweet connection (father was a major player in the company); and the other one networked his way into a general counsel position with a tiny start-up.

I hope some folks here are able to help you, but it may be worthwhile to try to network with some folks in person. Try your grad program in chem. They probably have graduates who ended up going to law school and practicing patent law.

You'll want to talk to them to make sure that this is actually the kind of work you want to do.


Sorry to not respond sooner, I'd left work early for the day and had several other things to do so I never made it back here.

Thanks for the advice. I did talk to my sister-in-law's friend, who went to Wisconsin for law school, and has his BS in mechanical engineering. I've also talked to some acquaintances of his, in particular from the USPTO. I've read some sample patents and started studying for the patent bar before realizing that I should concentrate on the lsat.

The answer is, I realize there is a lot of boring tedium. I can handle that. I'm a pretty square kinda guy. However, I do like reading and writing, I always have. And not so much fiction, I like reading to gain knowledge, I'm practically addicted to it. I also like staying abreast of techical and scientific developments, even if I wouldn't be willing to sacrifice 8-10 hours a day twiddling dials and cleaning equipment in a lab for 6 years. I'm thinking I have the proper disposition for this work. I'm not one of those people who plans to "do my favorite thing in the world for my job". No, I want a job I can tolerate, that enriches me somehow outside that job, where I am respected, and that yields a middle class income.

Regarding the bimodal distribution, it doesn't seem sustainable in a saturated economy. Notwithstanding my *opinion* on this (I'm not an economist), the number of new lawyers making 90-150 is about 50% more than the number of new lawyers making 155-165. Of course there are also about 20% more making 65-90 than there are making 155-165. And finally, there are about five times as many making 35-65 as there are making 155-165.

155-165: 11.18%
90-150: 16.76%
65-90: 13.41%
35-65: 58.67%

These were obtained by numerically integrating the bimodal curve published by NALP.

So yes, pure odds are against a new lawyer making more than 65. But I have a technical background. I'll pass the patent bar. Both of these make me atypical and in higher demand. If I go to a t14, that's another bump. If I graduate in the top 1/2, another bump. I don't think it's unrealistic to estimate I may start around 100k, although of course it is far from guaranteed. If my grades tank first year, if I don't get into a t14.. etc. What may be unrealistic is my expectation that I can work 40-50 hours a week. Maybe at the USPTO?

I'm still very tempted to take the lsat, get a 168-172, and see if UNH gives me a full ride. They have some incredible clinical programs. There's one where a handful of students, along with a professor, prosecute an actual patent from the beginning. They do place people outside NE also, in particular DC and Silicon Valley of course. Insofar as any reported salary information can be believed, they do very well in this department if one gets their time there paid for. I'm not sure how all the numbers work out for 120k with no loan payments vs. 160k with 150k in loans.

With respect to EDing at NWern. I'm not really in a position to ED many places. My wife will be looking for clinical residencies in the fall, and there is no guarantee she will get one in a particular place. Really, only one place in the country has so many residencies that she may feel confident enough to commit to that location, and that's here in the DC area. That's why I mention EDing to Gtown part-time. It's t14, but has no IP clinic and the IP offerings, while there are a few, are a bit scarce. I don't know how the people interviewed for the specialty rankings put Gtown in the same boat with UNH _for_ip. There's no comparison between the course/clinic offerings. Gtown does have the advantage of being in an IP hotspot, which gives 1L's more opportunities over the summer. EDing to GW may be an option, no way in hell they'd give me money even with a 170.
Last edited by androstan on Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TommyK
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby TommyK » Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:06 pm

I'll assume for the case of this discussion that those numbers are completely accurate. Let's assume that 1/6 people (I assume these are first year attorney salaries and discounts all the people unable to find work, or have decided to pursue careers in business outside of law. If it does not, we should probably factor that in) end up with a job making 90-150 - this is an incredibly small group of the population for such a large salary band. There just aren't a lot of jobs in that grouping. They grouped the salaries in really odd amounts so I can't say that it at all flies counter to my contention that the salary distribution for first year attorneys is bimodal.

I understand you think you're going to be more marketable and that may be true to some extent. But my point was to get that $100k job (which isn't terribly prevalent), you may just have to work significantly more than the 50 hours you identified. There are lots of people with very impressive science backgrounds who passed the patent bar. Many of them cannot find work in that field.

My recommendation remains - try to track down a patent lawyer and see if they can give you some insight. But if you're not interested in doing the legwork before making a $150k investment, best of luck.

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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:48 pm

TommyK wrote:I'll assume for the case of this discussion that those numbers are completely accurate. Let's assume that 1/6 people (I assume these are first year attorney salaries and discounts all the people unable to find work, or have decided to pursue careers in business outside of law. If it does not, we should probably factor that in) end up with a job making 90-150 - this is an incredibly small group of the population for such a large salary band. There just aren't a lot of jobs in that grouping. They grouped the salaries in really odd amounts so I can't say that it at all flies counter to my contention that the salary distribution for first year attorneys is bimodal.


Agreed, those numbers actually reinforce a bimodal distribution. The fact that the 90-150 band is even remotely comparable to the 155-165 band indicates a sharp peak followed by a long, flat valley. The huge size of the 35-65 band indicates a wide peak. The 65-90 band indicates a bit of a rise in people going from 90 to 65. So yeah, these numbers match up with the graph pretty well.

But it also makes clear that the idea of making in the low 100's is not outlandish, purely on the numbers. And then if we factor in that most of the people in the 35-90 double-group are probably from lower tier schools and the ones in the 155-165 peak are from the upper tier, then you know that coming from somewhere in between increases your likelihood of, well, being in between.

TommyK wrote:I understand you think you're going to be more marketable and that may be true to some extent. But my point was to get that $100k job (which isn't terribly prevalent), you may just have to work significantly more than the 50 hours you identified. There are lots of people with very impressive science backgrounds who passed the patent bar. Many of them cannot find work in that field.

My recommendation remains - try to track down a patent lawyer and see if they can give you some insight. But if you're not interested in doing the legwork before making a $150k investment, best of luck.


Like I said, I talked to some patent attorneys and agents. I have some idea of what's involved. Sort of, I guess. I mean, I don't know how informed I can be until I take the plunge.

Maybe it doesn't have to be a 150k investment, you still haven't commented on a UNH full ride?
Last edited by androstan on Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:49 pm

merichard87 wrote:
androstan wrote:
merichard87 wrote:Hit 170+ and ED to Northwestern.


If I were going to "reach for the stars" why not try for a place with some IP offerings i.e. Duke?


With your lackluster GPA you are going to have to take what you can get. NW is very forgiving of low GPAs if you have Work Experience and a 170+. Duke not so much. Also, Virginia with an ED might be worth the app fee. And to me T14 is not necessarily only for biglaw. Those schools just give one the best chance at gainful employment.


But in your case I would apply to a ton of schools in regions you would be willing to work in and all the T14s you can afford.


Hey Meri, thanks for your advice too. Like I said earlier, I don't think I'm in a position where I can ED at Gtown. Trying to ED at UVA may be feasible. Not sure why you're not mentioning Gtown? A little more IP offerings, a PT program that's a little less competitive to get into, still t14. And there's always UNH sans debt.

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Re: 2.87/163

Postby FlanAl » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:08 pm

Could be totally wrong but low 100s seems to be working biglaw in small markets. Biglaw offices in Portland Maine for instance generally start at 80 a year. I would guess that the hours aren't quite New York but you are still working for a big firms office. San Diego Biglaw usually starts at low 100s. I don't really think there are too many in between midlaw more laid back so much as smaller markets where the big firms pay less. Thought I'd throw this out there and would like to know what you guys think about it.

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cynthia rose
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby cynthia rose » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:40 pm

EDing to GW may be an option, no way in hell they'd give me money even with a 170.

Actually, people who are accepted to GW through their ED program get a full tuition scholarship. This makes it a better decision than ED'ing to G'town, in my opinion (assuming you know with reasonable certainty you're coming to DC, or that DC would be your first choice for a place to move). If they don't take you ED they just transfer you to the RD pool.

More info on that here - http://www.law.gwu.edu/Admissions/apply/Pages/early.aspx

Can't offer any other advice, though. I know little to nothing about patent law except that I won't ever qualify to practice it.

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Re: 2.87/163

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:51 pm

My understanding is that for those applicants accepted early decision (ED) to GWU recive from a two-thirds ($30,000) tuition scholarship to a full (approx. $45,000) scholarship which can be retained in years 2 & 3 so long as the student maintains a minimum 3.5 law school GPA.
I know that the website claims it is a full tuition scholarship & the website makes no mention of the 3.5 GPA requirement. My information comes from placing a call to GWU law school admissions office & speaking with their rep. The Dean of Admissions is not available until next week, but the partial to full scholarship award if accepted ED to GWU & maintain a 3.5 law school GPA was in effect last year.

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Re: 2.87/163

Postby cynthia rose » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:07 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:My understanding is that for those applicants accepted early decision (ED) to GWU recive from a two-thirds ($30,000) tuition scholarship to a full (approx. $45,000) scholarship which can be retained in years 2 & 3 so long as the student maintains a minimum 3.5 law school GPA.
I know that the website claims it is a full tuition scholarship & the website makes no mention of the 3.5 GPA requirement. My information comes from placing a call to GWU law school admissions office & speaking with their rep.

A 3.5? Ouch.

According to this thread from about a year ago, the two-thirds scholarship is what was offered to people who got rejected ED and then accepted RD (several were moved to the RD pool and then accepted RD on the same day).

You called the school though so I would trust what they're saying now over what was supposedly the case last year. Plus, the GPA requirement for keeping the 30k scholarship was 3.0, so a requiring a 3.5 to keep the bigger $$$ is logical. I'm sure the full requirements for keeping the ED scholarship are in the agreement so it's up to each applicant to read what he or she is signing. Kind of misleading to me that they wouldn't put that on the website, but then I can't say it's surprising.

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Re: 2.87/163

Postby TommyK » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:10 pm

androstan wrote:
Maybe it doesn't have to be a 150k investment, you still haven't commented on a UNH full ride?


Ohhh, Franklin Pierce? I have a buddy that went there. His background is pretty similar to yours. Got his masters in nuclear chem, bachelors in biochem (around 3.8), and got around 168 on lsat. He got a full ride there and ended up at around the top 1/4 of his class. He also couldn't find a job upon graduating and couldn't find one for about a year.

FP is a really good patent law reputation, but from everything I've heard from TLS is that you don't go to a program because of a specialty ranking. Patent law may be the exception - I'm not sure. Because while specialty rankings probably mean they have some subject area conferences, top faculty in that area, and extended course offerings, it may not necessarily translate into greater prestige, recognition, and easier access to jobs.

Good luck with your decision.

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:45 pm

TommyK wrote:
androstan wrote:
Maybe it doesn't have to be a 150k investment, you still haven't commented on a UNH full ride?


Ohhh, Franklin Pierce? I have a buddy that went there. His background is pretty similar to yours. Got his masters in nuclear chem, bachelors in biochem (around 3.8), and got around 168 on lsat. He got a full ride there and ended up at around the top 1/4 of his class. He also couldn't find a job upon graduating and couldn't find one for about a year.

FP is a really good patent law reputation, but from everything I've heard from TLS is that you don't go to a program because of a specialty ranking. Patent law may be the exception - I'm not sure. Because while specialty rankings probably mean they have some subject area conferences, top faculty in that area, and extended course offerings, it may not necessarily translate into greater prestige, recognition, and easier access to jobs.

Good luck with your decision.


Very valuable info, what job did he eventually find after a year?

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TommyK
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby TommyK » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:52 pm

androstan wrote:Very valuable info, what job did he eventually find after a year?


He ended up taking a job outside of law for a while. It's tough out there.

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Re: 2.87/163

Postby NoJob » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:58 pm

merichard87 wrote:
androstan wrote:
merichard87 wrote:Hit 170+ and ED to Northwestern.


If I were going to "reach for the stars" why not try for a place with some IP offerings i.e. Duke?


With your lackluster GPA you are going to have to take what you can get. NW is very forgiving of low GPAs if you have Work Experience and a 170+. Duke not so much. Also, Virginia with an ED might be worth the app fee. And to me T14 is not necessarily only for biglaw. Those schools just give one the best chance at gainful employment.


But in your case I would apply to a ton of schools in regions you would be willing to work in and all the T14s you can afford.


Agreed.

But, reconsider your decision. Metabolic pathways, gluconeogenesis, whatever is way more interesting than the canned briefs and motions that I prepare in response to the incompetence that fills this profession (Michigan lawyers with Cooley degrees).

Since I likely can't change your mind, go to the school that will cost you the least. Take out as few loans as possible. And, pray that the law gods will smile on you.

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:42 pm

Just did my first 170 PT on Oct. 1997. Looking forward to eeking out a few more points before Oct. 9th.

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:06 pm

170 on Dec. 1997

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Sun Sep 19, 2010 12:48 pm

171 on Dec 1998!

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androstan
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Re: 2.87/163

Postby androstan » Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:33 pm

Everyone is telling me to break 170 and ED to NWern. However, LSP indicates that 170 will not be sufficient. It seems like at least a 173 is needed.

I *really* like Duke's JD/MS in biomedical engineering program. That's pretty hot.




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