Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

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James Bond
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Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby James Bond » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:53 pm

My law school application is going to be something else, that's for sure. There's going to be a ton of personal info here, but it almost needs to happen in order for anyone to give me any semblance of advice on this. My college career has been anything but normal and unfortunately my transcript reflects that...

Freshman year I got very ill and I didn't know how to handle it. Used to being able to take off a week in highschool and make up all the work regardless, I missed a good month of college, right before finals, and effectively failed every single one of my classes. Freshman me never even considered this a possibility (seriously...who gets a 0.00?) but to make a long story short my medical excuse was not accepted and I was academically dismissed for an entire year. During this low time of feeling like a complete loser I was charged with a Disorderly Conduct at one point and an Underage/DUI (BAC .02...seriously...) at another. I went on ARD and got the Underage/DUI removed, but the Disorderly Conduct is still on my record and if it is asked if I've ever been arrested for an Underage/DUI I have to say yes even thought it was dismissed after the community service.

Since then I've gotten my act together, but my life is never normal. I have semesters where I've taken 17 credits (the max at my school.) I have semesters where I've taken 12 and had to drop down to 9 for whatever reason. My GPA during these semesters ranges from a 3.8 to a 2.6 (and oddly enough better with the more credits I take.) Every summer and winter I've taken entire semesters worth of credits to keep up or get ahead. My transcript, however, looks ridiculous. On top of that, my LSAC GPA is a 2.8 (thank you, LSAC, for counting those Freshman F's even though my school doesn't), my undergrad GPA is a 3.2, and my major GPA is a 3.9.

Now I sound like a pretty big loser right? Well that's what I'm afraid of. You see, at my UG, I'm the 2010-2011 Student Government President, the 2009-2010 Vice Chairman of the University Senate, Former Chairman of the University Affairs Committee, on the Co-op Board of Directors, a member of SGA, a member of the Senate Committee on Student Affairs, a member of the Student Legal Services Committee, the Former Vice President of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and a member of my UG's Judicial Board. I've been instrumental in a ridiculous number of initiatives for my UG. I have two professors and at least 7 administrators (we're talking Vice Presidents) at my school who approached me to write me "glowing" letters of recommendation. In other words, I couldn't be farther from what my transcript shows.

I've already come to terms with the fact that numbers matter far more than softs and luckily I'm testing in the low 170's in my PT's to attempt and make up for my horrid GPA with a great LSAT score. What I'm wondering is...where do I even being with addendums? The arrests? The all F's and the year off from school? The gross inconsistencies from semester to semester both in terms of credits taken and GPA received? The fact that if you hold my transcript next to my accomplishments and letters of recommendation you'd probably think you're dealing with two different people? I have good reasons and stories behind each, but I doubt any adcomm is going to want to hear a million excuses.

This fall is certainly going to be an interesting time for me, and I anticipate my cycle to be as strange as possible, I'm just really looking for a good way to make "strange" mean "unpredictable" and not "predictable denials." Any advice?

byunbee
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby byunbee » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:18 pm

I think you've shown great resiliency by salvaging a 2.8/3.2 GPA after your first year. And you definitely have some great soft qualifications. The problem is that despite all this, your GPA is still very low, and I think this might preclude you from the T14. But I'm not entirely certain of this.

However, if you can successfully write a PS centered around your softs, truthfully address your other issues in 1 or 2 addenda w/o making any excuses, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, score in the high 160's to low 170's (which you seem to believe you are capable of doing), you could probably be a viable splitter candidate at certain T-20 schools.

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James Bond
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby James Bond » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:21 pm

byunbee wrote:I think you've shown great resiliency by salvaging a 2.8/3.2 GPA after your first year. And you definitely have some great soft qualifications. The problem is that despite all this, your GPA is still very low, and I think this might preclude you from the T14. But I'm not entirely certain of this.

However, if you can successfully write a PS centered around your softs, truthfully address your other issues in 1 or 2 addenda w/o making any excuses, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, score in the high 160's to low 170's (which you seem to believe you are capable of doing), you could probably be a viable splitter candidate at certain T-20 schools.


Ya I'm looking in the 20's and more than likely 30's. I don't have any T14 delusions with that GPA. :wink:

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thisiswater1488
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby thisiswater1488 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:24 pm

.
Last edited by thisiswater1488 on Mon May 23, 2011 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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James Bond
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby James Bond » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:26 pm

thisiswater1488 wrote:Northwestern has taken multiple <3.0 GPA's in the last few cycles, granted you have a 172+ LSAT and solid post-undergrad work experience.


Nada, and after 5 years of undergrad by the time I'm done and looking to 3-4 years of law school (PT might be an option for me for schools like Gtown, GW, or Fordham) I'm not looking at extending this process any longer.

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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby eth3n » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:36 pm

Make it very clear, VERY CLEAR, that the major issue with your transcript (the freshman year issue) was a one-time thing, you don't make any excuses for it, but there is NO WAY ANYTHING LIKE THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO YOU AGAIN. This point must be made perfectly clear to the AdComms.

To be honest, I don't know if "unpredictable" is something you should strive for in your PS, especially considering how many predicable (read: safe) apps will be next to yours.

-edit-

Also, when it comes to the LSAT is it quite possibly the most ridiculous effort:reward ratio you will ever experience for the rest of your life. Do not get complacent (I assume you are taking dec test), many people who test ~175 end up many points lower(i dropped around 8 points from average if i remember correctly). Take a class, if you can't take a class you are going to have to take as many preptests as possible.

Don't forget how weak softs are, while you obviously have enough for them to be noted (your list is actually quite disturbing), remember that you cannot rely on them to do any heavy lifting, same goes with letters of rec. LSAT should be your primary focus, dont be satisfied even with 175+ preptests, don't stop practicing until you take the damn test.

byunbee
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby byunbee » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:45 pm

James Bond wrote:
thisiswater1488 wrote:Northwestern has taken multiple <3.0 GPA's in the last few cycles, granted you have a 172+ LSAT and solid post-undergrad work experience.


Nada, and after 5 years of undergrad by the time I'm done and looking to 3-4 years of law school (PT might be an option for me for schools like Gtown, GW, or Fordham) I'm not looking at extending this process any longer.


Except sometimes, extending the process can help. For instance, 1-2 years of work experience might help further convince schools that you've matured beyond your early UG shortcomings. I'm guessing from the fact that you haven't applied to any schools yet that you're still a UG junior? There's plenty of time to look for post-undergrad work, it might be worthwhile to explore both avenues. But then again, if you can really score into the 170's you will most likely have a chance at many T-20s/30s.

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James Bond
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby James Bond » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:49 pm

eth3n wrote:Make it very clear, VERY CLEAR, that the major issue with your transcript (the freshman year issue) was a one-time thing, you don't make any excuses for it, but there is NO WAY ANYTHING LIKE THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO YOU AGAIN. This point must be made perfectly clear to the AdComms.

To be honest, I don't know if "unpredictable" is something you should strive for in your PS, especially considering how many predicable (read: safe) apps will be next to yours.

-edit-

Also, when it comes to the LSAT is it quite possibly the most ridiculous effort:reward ratio you will ever experience for the rest of your life. Do not get complacent (I assume you are taking dec test), many people who test ~175 end up many points lower(i dropped around 8 points from average if i remember correctly). Take a class, if you can't take a class you are going to have to take as many preptests as possible.

Don't forget how weak softs are, while you obviously have enough for them to be noted (your list is actually quite disturbing), remember that you cannot rely on them to do any heavy lifting, same goes with letters of rec. LSAT should be your primary focus, dont be satisfied even with 175+ preptests, don't stop practicing until you take the damn test.


"Unpredictable" isn't something I'm striving for in my PS lol it's what I'm expecting my cycle to be. And I'm taking the LSAT in June BTW, not December. I'm not sure why I'd wait that long. Unless you mean something else by dec?

Lastly, I unfortunately am well aware that my softs won't carry me. I had to laugh at you calling my list disturbing though. That's not even all if you count more meaningless things lol

byunbee
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby byunbee » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:55 pm

eth3n wrote:Also, when it comes to the LSAT is it quite possibly the most ridiculous effort:reward ratio you will ever experience for the rest of your life. Do not get complacent (I assume you are taking dec test), many people who test ~175 end up many points lower(i dropped around 8 points from average if i remember correctly). Take a class, if you can't take a class you are going to have to take as many preptests as possible.

Don't forget how weak softs are, while you obviously have enough for them to be noted (your list is actually quite disturbing), remember that you cannot rely on them to do any heavy lifting, same goes with letters of rec. LSAT should be your primary focus, dont be satisfied even with 175+ preptests, don't stop practicing until you take the damn test.


1. Completely agree with your point about the LSAT. I screwed up the first two tests and my first cycle of apps, worked my ass for a summer and eventually ended up with 3.9/169 for the next cycle. It makes a huge difference.
2. While I agree that softs are in most cases just the icing on the cake, I think they can also strongly bolster an extreme LSAT/GPA splitter. For example, I believe some higher ranked schools WashU (and maybe Illinois) and NU, as one of the posters above noted, have been known to take chances on such applicants. But still, the LSAT is incredibly important.

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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby 270910 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:06 pm

There's nothing you can do. 7,000 posts deep you should know that.

You'll be an interesting dude who will get in exactly and only where your numbers suggest you will get in. Basically the best you can hope for through addendums and LoRs is not under-performing based on your stats.

Don't waste psychic energy on it at this point. Needs more practice tests.

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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby eth3n » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:16 pm

James Bond wrote:"Unpredictable" isn't something I'm striving for in my PS lol it's what I'm expecting my cycle to be. And I'm taking the LSAT in June BTW, not December. I'm not sure why I'd wait that long. Unless you mean something else by dec?

My bad, but in any case, I stand by my advice that you should try to minimize aspects of your past that make you seem flaky (traditional example is illness, even tho its clearly beyond they ability of the person to control, it still fucks the schools bar passage rate/attrition rate if you get "ill" again and are unable to work through it), you want to make it seem like past problems could not happen again, not merely that they weren't necessarily your fault.

James Bond wrote:And I'm taking the LSAT in June BTW, not December. I'm not sure why I'd wait that long. Unless you mean something else by dec?

Nah I didn't mean anything else, but what I meant was oct (sorry its been a year since ive worried about cycle), december is obviously only an rare contingency. While there are clear benefits of having your LSAT score before the oct results comes back, I would seriously consider prepping the additional months until oct test considering how crucial your LSAT score will be. At the same time, taking June still gives the ability to cancel and retake Oct if you feel you didnt do 100% on June, so either way.

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James Bond
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby James Bond » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:24 pm

My plan as of now is to take June and base my next decision off the result. If I get 168-169 I don't know what I'm going to do, but anything under 168 will be a retake in Oct and anything equal to or over a 170 will be me applying on that.

As far as the illness, it was a rather severe case of mono that brought with it tonsillitis and bronchitis so bad I had to be hospitalized twice because my throat was going to close. I suppose you can't get mono twice.

shock259
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby shock259 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:02 am

Nice! I got mono last semester and my throat almost closed too. That had to be one of the more painful things in my entire life. And it happened the week I was visiting my girlfriend's parents for the first time. They had to drive me to emergency walk in clinic in Philly. Fun fun. I made a great impression.

Anyway, it will REALLY boil down to your LSAT. Don't skimp out. Study study study. Come up with a plan on where to apply/where you can get in after you get your score back.

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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby Fark-o-vision » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:12 am

You could hit the gym, get ripped, and then flex your bulk for the adcomms. I joke, though, seriously (please don't get angry, I don't think I'd like you when you're angry).

your story sounds compelling and interesting. I think it'd be hard for anyone to put your app straight in the trash, though I do think you'll have to blanket the top colleges to pull off a big time school. If you improve your LSAT even a little, things seem all right for you. My advice has to be weighed by the fact that I was mediocre in both LSAT and GPA (although my LSAT was, numerically, better). Still, I got into schools I shouldn't have, and got scholly's from schools I definitely shouldn't have. As long as you have that super high LSAT to offer I think anything is possible.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:24 am

If you can crack 170+, ED to UVA (or a different lower T14 school). No, your odds are not great of acceptance, but they're better than if you don't apply at all.

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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby onthecusp » Fri Apr 23, 2010 2:10 am

James Bond wrote:
byunbee wrote:I think you've shown great resiliency by salvaging a 2.8/3.2 GPA after your first year. And you definitely have some great soft qualifications. The problem is that despite all this, your GPA is still very low, and I think this might preclude you from the T14. But I'm not entirely certain of this.

However, if you can successfully write a PS centered around your softs, truthfully address your other issues in 1 or 2 addenda w/o making any excuses, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, score in the high 160's to low 170's (which you seem to believe you are capable of doing), you could probably be a viable splitter candidate at certain T-20 schools.


Ya I'm looking in the 20's and more than likely 30's. I don't have any T14 delusions with that GPA. :wink:


A 170+ with one hell of a PS will get you into Northwestern.

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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby strawberryfanta » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:09 am

I'm an unknowing 0L, just popping in to wish you luck dude.

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James Bond
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby James Bond » Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:56 am

A new day, a new crowd, a new bump ? :P

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MURPH
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby MURPH » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:24 am

Sometimes when you are a freshman and appear to be a screw up no one will give you the benefit of the doubt. People who could potentially help you will say no just because they don't want to help or because they don't like the looks of you. If you are a senior and you have a great reputation and some connections with Vice Presidents, etc., you can get people to help you.
Why don't you reapproach the issue of getting your freshman grades cleared for medical reasons one more time? Ask around and see which deans would be involved and what you'd have to do. You might find that someone has the authority to clear your record with the stroke of a pen.
When I was in the Army this type of thing would happen all the time. Some private would spend years trying to get back pay that they earned and that the Army screwed up. After years of arguing to a brick wall, they would mention the problem to a Colonel and the next week it was fixed. A university has the same bureaucracy. No one cares if some 18 year old has bad grade, but if a Dean makes a phone call for that same kid then suddenly it is fixed.

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scribelaw
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby scribelaw » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:51 am

I think your instinct to avoid a million excuses is right.

I would write an addendum, kept it as tight and fact-based as possible, and let your LORs work for you. Don't whine. Just say this is what happened, I overcame this difficult period and learned from it, and I'm now a stronger person and student as a result.

Sounds like your LORs will be pretty strong, which will help. I would definitely submit 3 LORs and have a fourth ready for waitlists -- with your likely splitter status, you could end up on a few WLs.

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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby ihurtmyselftoday » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:04 am

disco_barred wrote:There's nothing you can do. 7,000 posts deep you should know that.

You'll be an interesting dude who will get in exactly and only where your numbers suggest you will get in. Basically the best you can hope for through addendums and LoRs is not under-performing based on your stats.

Don't waste psychic energy on it at this point. Needs more practice tests.


lolwut?

The above poster is a fool. Ignore his advice.

The people who say that adcomms only care about numbers either aren't good enough writers, or aren't good enough salesmen.

You have outstanding softs and are not in a terrible position to get into a T20. I had to write two addendums and while I got mixed responses from the T20 (2x OUT, 1x WL, 1x MIA, 2x IN w/ $$$), I did get my foot in the door. Although my situation was quite different (poor GPA but 5 years of work experience) here is what I suggest:

1. Write a compelling "diversity" essay on your experiences that affected your GPA negatively but also taught you unique values that you would not otherwise have gotten. Mention that because of this experience you have grown in ways similar applicants have not. And, since you have such outstand on-campus involvement, talk about how your GPA wasn't your only focus in undergrad. You were developing life skills that couldn't be taught in a classroom. *Note that this is not the main PS but one of the optional ones if your application allows it (most of the T14 do).

2. Write addendums that you are straight and to the point. Don't make excuses. Give details of what occured and provided a brief statement that says something like, "In accordance with X Law School's application instructions, I have attached a brief essay that provides further insight into how these experiences have made me uniquely qualified to be a part of your community and the legal profession." Something like that.

3. Write your main PS on something wholely different than all the bad stuff in your package. Basically you need to sell them on why you are one in a million. Write about a unique perspective that you've gotten from a life experience. Make them know you as "The guy who did X." Rather than "The guy with the DUI and striaght Fs."

4. Remember that, while you obviously need to address your issues, the more time you spend reminding the adcomm's about it, the more time they will spend thinking you suck.

5. If you don't get in this cycle, spend some time in the world getting experience that you can use for a stronger package in the future.

If you need examples of addendums or optional essays, PM me.
Last edited by ihurtmyselftoday on Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ihurtmyselftoday
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby ihurtmyselftoday » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:09 am

onthecusp wrote: [strike]A 170+ with one hell of a PS will get you into Northwestern[/strike].


Even with the above, you have a very small chance at NU without work experience. I can imagine that your leadership experience on campus would help. But not as much as taking a couple years off.

FWIW, with 5 years w/e, a 169 LSAT, and a great on-campus interview, I was still placed on "hold" by NU. Not sure how it came out though since I withdrew before I received a decision. I don't think a 170 would have made that much of a difference though.

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pleasetryagain
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby pleasetryagain » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:50 am

my advice is to make sure you dont put ".02.. really!?" in your personal statement/addendum/diversity statement.

aside from that, youll be ok... but you already know this.

legalized
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby legalized » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:04 pm

ihurtmyselftoday wrote:5. If you don't get in this cycle, spend some time in the world getting experience that you can use for a stronger package in the future.

If you need examples of addendums or optional essays, PM me.


Um, don't get in? There is no way he will NOT get accepted somewhere.

In this economy I really think people need to either go to a top 5 (possibly top 10 but not if some at the top 5 still have to hustle for a job, say the lower 50%!) or a school in the geographic area they wish to practice.

I don't think Georgetown and those other lower T14s make sense for the price right now unless you plan to practice in the DC metro area. All the news points to the top firms simply digging deeper into the pool from top schools, which means less and less chance of getting even an interview with them the further you go down from the T-5, maybe T-10.

Let's not have him put off his dream of law school because the job market out there is improving but not fast enough for him to bank 2 years on any kind of meaningful career development.

He could spend that time applying this fall and be 1/3 of the way done SOMEwhere by starting law school next fall.

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ihurtmyselftoday
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Re: Advice on How to Approach a Strange Situation

Postby ihurtmyselftoday » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:46 pm

legalized wrote:
ihurtmyselftoday wrote:5. If you don't get in this cycle, spend some time in the world getting experience that you can use for a stronger package in the future.

If you need examples of addendums or optional essays, PM me.


Um, don't get in? There is no way he will NOT get accepted somewhere.

In this economy I really think people need to either go to a top 5 (possibly top 10 but not if some at the top 5 still have to hustle for a job, say the lower 50%!) or a school in the geographic area they wish to practice.

I don't think Georgetown and those other lower T14s make sense for the price right now unless you plan to practice in the DC metro area. All the news points to the top firms simply digging deeper into the pool from top schools, which means less and less chance of getting even an interview with them the further you go down from the T-5, maybe T-10.

Let's not have him put off his dream of law school because the job market out there is improving but not fast enough for him to bank 2 years on any kind of meaningful career development.

He could spend that time applying this fall and be 1/3 of the way done SOMEwhere by starting law school next fall.


How much of your post would you say has anything to do with this thread? 10, maybe 15%? Hmm? "None" is the answer. None percent.




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