geo constraint and, well, old age

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valleybound
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geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:14 pm

Hi all,
First post in the forum! I am located in the Silicon Valley and currently works in high tech. I've been contemplating law school for a while, and it's been a difficult decision - I have a serious geographical constraint as in I cannot relocate and can only consider Stanford or Santa Clara U. My undergrad GPA is 4.0 and I have a PhD in engineering, if that helps. I have yet to take / study for the LSAT. I am not even sure if I should apply, because I am in my early 30s and have a big mortgage and a family. Stanford's site listed 25 as the average age of incoming students, and from the boards it seems so if not younger! Financially it definitely makes better sense for a twenty something to go to law school. I can't seem to justify my decision.
This is probably out of place but I guess I just want to hear other's opinions / similar experience...
Thanks!

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Adjudicator
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby Adjudicator » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:24 pm

Hello. If your choices are really limited to Stanford and Santa Clara U, study your ass off for the LSAT and shoot for Stanford. WIth a 4.0 UG GPA and a Ph.D in Engineering, you have a lot going for you and Stanford is certainly on the table, but the LSAT is a huge difference-maker. If you can score in the 170s, Stanford is a good possibility.

Santa Clara U is probably not worth going in your situation, unless you got a full scholarship. And even then maybe not worth it.
Last edited by Adjudicator on Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Kretzy
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby Kretzy » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:24 pm

valleybound wrote:Hi all,
First post in the forum! I am located in the Silicon Valley and currently works in high tech. I've been contemplating law school for a while, and it's been a difficult decision - I have a serious geographical constraint as in I cannot relocate and can only consider Stanford or Santa Clara U. My undergrad GPA is 4.0 and I have a PhD in engineering, if that helps. I have yet to take / study for the LSAT. I am not even sure if I should apply, because I am in my early 30s and have a big mortgage and a family. Stanford's site listed 25 as the average age of incoming students, and from the boards it seems so if not younger! Financially it definitely makes better sense for a twenty something to go to law school. I can't seem to justify my decision.
This is probably out of place but I guess I just want to hear other's opinions / similar experience...
Thanks!


Get a 168 or above on the LSAT and SLS will love you. Seriously. There are a ton of science PhDs in the 1L class, probably 8-10 in total. A number of folks are over 30, thought they're definitely in the minority, and some commute from as far away as San Fran.

I'd throw in Berkeley, too. It's not that bad a commute, really.

I wouldn't come if you're just doing so because it might seem cool, but if you're seriously considering law, and want to do IP (or, really, anything), you can't pick a better spot.

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MysticalWheel
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby MysticalWheel » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:25 pm

If you score 172+ on the LSAT, you'd probably be about 50%, maybe higher, for Stanford admission. If you get in, I definitely think it is the right decision financially. Age probably won't be a big factor: you're in your early 30s, not early 40s or 50s. Ace the LSAT!

MW

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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby Adjudicator » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:30 pm

After thinking about it and messing around with law school predictor, I think a 170 or higher gives you a pretty strong chance at Stanford, especially considering your Ph.D in engineering as a good soft factor.

r6_philly
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby r6_philly » Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:48 am

I am in my early 30's, computer science background, years of WE in the industry, and aiming for Stanford. It will be a good decision if you can extend your existing skill set and experiences into law. There is no reason to do it purely for financial reasons, you should have higher earning potential in your current field, on average. Plus you have to account for wage/time lost and tuition, and we are 10 years shorter toward retirement...

I have a great plan, and that's why I am doing it. You should have a good plan too.

Also like someone above said, if Stanford is a bit high, Berkeley would be wonderful too.

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:19 am

i will aim for 170+ but again, with age, i think i have gone stupider. seriously no kidding.
i am not doing a JD because it is "cool", and in fact, just the opposite. i am genuinely interested in the subject (my research and current line of work are actually somewhat relevant), which makes the decision even harder. with a family and a mortgage, studying for the sake of knowledge is rather selfish...
i'll likely be in patent, because of my engineering background and previous experience. i heard that Santa Clara's IP program is good, is that right? i am sure everything at Stanford is good, lol.
i actually want to try out berkeley because i already have a degree from Stanford, and i'd like to experience a different campus. but realistically, the time i'll have to spend in commute i'd rather spend with my kid.
r6_philly, what is your plan if you don't mind sharing? financially it really doesn't make much sense for me to even try. i make a decent salary right now and it's enough to get by. i have no plan to move to NYC to chase after biglaw, which means i might have to take a pay cut as a first year associate in a local valley firm. i really want to tell myself "so be it".

r6_philly
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby r6_philly » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:34 am

I plan to generate more than big law income 3-5 years out of LS. I have the option of keep doing what I do now (which will top out at a lead/tech management position), pursue an advance degree in CS (which would be selfish since I love the subject but there's no financial incentive), or try to fit in between technology and law. I had various experiences in that void, and I think I could fit in very well. The plan is to have a consulting firm that also offer legal services. It could be exciting like litigation related, or very boring like audit/contracts/policy. I have yet to come across firms that caters to smaller businesses on these issues. With a JD, I could offer the legal services while managing a tech consulting staff.

So I look at this as an investment that should bear great returns. If it doesn't work out, I think I am in a better position since I can still fall back to my current career, but with a JD in hand. I am finishing a MPA which will give me more options. With all 3 degrees, I can probably break through to the upper management layer in my current field, or move to government consulting/contracting. I am trying to position myself well, I am confident that it would be worth it. Of course having contingency plans is paramount at this age, so don't go all in, hedge your bets.

r6_philly
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby r6_philly » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:36 am

Oh yes, I am with you on taking the LSAT in your 30's. I know I could have done better younger. Take it and see, if you get a 170, I think you are good for Berkeley and a good shot at Stanford. Don't take a bad option though. If you can't get into a law school that can give you an advantage in your future plans, don't go. You still have your current career.

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homestyle28
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby homestyle28 » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:41 am

I will also be an older student with a family, and while I don't have some of the geographical restraints you do, I understand the worry re: mortgage, law school cost, etc. I'm wondering what exactly it is that is drawing you to LS, is there anything besides your intellectual interests? Does a JD significantly improve your career prospects/earning potential? How do you think the JD would impact your quality of life? In your early thirties you have a good 20-30 more working years ahead of you, so while it's a lot of speculation, how do you imagine life looks 15 years from now w/ and w/o the JD?

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:39 pm

r6_philly, you really have a plan! for me, my plan is to practice for a few years after law school and recoup the financial lost. i also plan on summer salaries during law school too, but in this economy and with my geo constraint, i don't think i can count on that.
another reason for me to invest in law school is the potential of becoming entrepreneurial. my phd and my current job are law tech related, and i have a lot of ideas related to law tech in general. with law school and a few years of practice, i think i'll understand it better from the lawyer side, and maybe then do startups in this general direction.
15 years from now, man, that's a long time and i honestly haven't thought so far out! i should, thanks! i thought about teaching. i thought about going in house as an IP counsel; there seems to be many companies in the valley in need of that. i am not sure of their pay though; i should find out.

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:26 am

woohoo i just realized that my UG GPA is > 4.0. i didn't know that the LSAC counts A+ as 4.3, since my own UG didn't but did give out A+'s. not sure if that makes much of a difference for a chance at Stanford, and i probably still need a LSAT > 170 regardless of GPA. still good to know!

uci2013
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby uci2013 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:57 am

valleybound wrote:r6_philly, you really have a plan! for me, my plan is to practice for a few years after law school and recoup the financial lost. i also plan on summer salaries during law school too, but in this economy and with my geo constraint, i don't think i can count on that.
another reason for me to invest in law school is the potential of becoming entrepreneurial. my phd and my current job are law tech related, and i have a lot of ideas related to law tech in general. with law school and a few years of practice, i think i'll understand it better from the lawyer side, and maybe then do startups in this general direction.
15 years from now, man, that's a long time and i honestly haven't thought so far out! i should, thanks! i thought about teaching. i thought about going in house as an IP counsel; there seems to be many companies in the valley in need of that. i am not sure of their pay though; i should find out.


Have you considered a Stanford JD/MBA? - Stanford has an amazing program in entrepreneurship if I recall.

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:27 am

uci2013 wrote:
valleybound wrote:r6_philly, you really have a plan! for me, my plan is to practice for a few years after law school and recoup the financial lost. i also plan on summer salaries during law school too, but in this economy and with my geo constraint, i don't think i can count on that.
another reason for me to invest in law school is the potential of becoming entrepreneurial. my phd and my current job are law tech related, and i have a lot of ideas related to law tech in general. with law school and a few years of practice, i think i'll understand it better from the lawyer side, and maybe then do startups in this general direction.
15 years from now, man, that's a long time and i honestly haven't thought so far out! i should, thanks! i thought about teaching. i thought about going in house as an IP counsel; there seems to be many companies in the valley in need of that. i am not sure of their pay though; i should find out.


Have you considered a Stanford JD/MBA? - Stanford has an amazing program in entrepreneurship if I recall.


i have. but i can't stand MBA types! i think i envision myself to be more of a hands-on entrepreneur rather than a pure business person. i am fairly technical and don't mind coding :)

ArghItsBlarg
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby ArghItsBlarg » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:20 am

As a lower-30's 0L myself, I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I'm in Chicago with a house that there's no chance of us selling in this market, so I'm also geographically locked. As for the LSAT, I started studying in June, with a modified version of Pithypike's study guide posted here on the LSAT board. I studied on my train commute every day, sneaking in some studying at work as well. No review course. I borrowed the 2011 Princeton Review from the library, and then it was all practice tests purchased from Amazon. I took the October LSAT 8 days after my second child was born and scored a 173. My brain may not be quite as fine-tuned as it was 10 years ago, but I'd like to think the added wisdom and maturity aided the regularity and practicality of my study habits.

I'm currently planning on going to a Tier Two school, part time, and getting as much scholarship money as I can garner. It'll be pretty hard, especially first year, but it can be done and the potential benefits outweigh staying in my current job track by a power of ten.

r6_philly
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby r6_philly » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:25 am

valleybound wrote:
uci2013 wrote:
Have you considered a Stanford JD/MBA? - Stanford has an amazing program in entrepreneurship if I recall.


i have. but i can't stand MBA types! i think i envision myself to be more of a hands-on entrepreneur rather than a pure business person. i am fairly technical and don't mind coding :)


After working/coding for all these years, I rather not ever have to type another ; if you know what I mean. I am looking to move to management layer and as I said technical background types don't break through the glass ceiling, you need some other skills. MBA will help a lot. I am actually looking at taking some classes in the spring at Wharton now. Since I worked in corporate advertising/marketing side and have dealt with budgeting, the curriculum isn't as bad as I thought it was. The MBA skills will help you get ahead. I am not so sure about the Stanford JD/MBA because it takes 4 years whereas other programs have 3 year join degrees. It's a big deal due to the lost wages + additional cost/living cost.

As I found out myself, if you want to make 150k+ with a coding background, you have to get some management skills on paper. I can be 20 years into my career and the highest I can go is Tech Lead/Team Lead/Development Manager (this is pushing it too). Interviewed at a national company this summer and I was told this. I can be the boss of the whole development department, but that boss never even been to the penthouse levels (where the executives are). So your career and income potential is capped. MBA breaks that.

kopper
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby kopper » Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:53 pm

valleybound wrote:i will aim for 170+ but again, with age, i think i have gone stupider. seriously no kidding.
i am not doing a JD because it is "cool", and in fact, just the opposite. i am genuinely interested in the subject (my research and current line of work are actually somewhat relevant), which makes the decision even harder. with a family and a mortgage, studying for the sake of knowledge is rather selfish...
i'll likely be in patent, because of my engineering background and previous experience. i heard that Santa Clara's IP program is good, is that right? i am sure everything at Stanford is good, lol.
i actually want to try out berkeley because i already have a degree from Stanford, and i'd like to experience a different campus. but realistically, the time i'll have to spend in commute i'd rather spend with my kid.
r6_philly, what is your plan if you don't mind sharing? financially it really doesn't make much sense for me to even try. i make a decent salary right now and it's enough to get by. i have no plan to move to NYC to chase after biglaw, which means i might have to take a pay cut as a first year associate in a local valley firm. i really want to tell myself "so be it".


I think we share some similar elements of the decision to go to law school. I am in the same demongraphic, have geographic restrictions and concerns/obligations of supporting a family. I will also take a pay cut as I start my career in law even if I were to achieve the top of the range in starting salaries.

The reasons I chose to go to law school were partially financial. I do think there is great earnings potential in the filed of law. Not everyone who goes to law school will make a lot of money however the potential is there and it is not the sole right of those who graduate from the top schools although their opportunties are much greater.

However, financial goals/opportunities were not the only or even primary motivator for me to consider law school. I find I am very interested in the subject of law and the career opportunities it can present both in the private sector where pay can be attractice and the public sector where pay is not as attractive but the type of work is attractive/interesting. My interests are more litigation than transactional but feel there are interesting opportunities in both areas.

As non-trads our goals and opportunities are not the same as traditional students. Tops schools do afford more opportunity and portability in a law degree. Your pursuit appears to be location specific/limited therefore your goals/concerns so it does not require you attend a T6 school or even the top school in your location especially if many of the students from the top school in your region find employment outside of your region. Therefore your goal does not have to be SLS or bust. If Santa Clara places well in your area and you have an opportunity to achieve the goals you are targeting with a degree from Santa Clara then consider it. An absolute statement that Santa Clara is not an option is absurd. I attend a school ranked much closer to SC than SLS in the rankings and there is a local top 10 school my region. I only applied to the lower ranked school because my only option was to work full-time and attend law school part-time. As it turns out most of the Top 10 schools students in this region go elsewhere and the school I attend although in general is low ranked (think it would be considered a TT in the TLS world) places extremely well in my local market. Your region has 2 T6 schools and I expect Silicon Valley is attractive to other students from top schools so your analysis is a bit more complex. If SC places well in your local market and you don't expect to need portability in your degree I think it is a viable option.

We also have the advantage of significant work experience that I have been told by experienced law professionals can assist in gaining employment after graduation. I think the beneficial impact of work experience is significantly increased if your target field of law is closely related to your current career and that impact is even greater if the field of IP. In fact, I think significant work experience in a related field is a requirement if not a strong preference for IP and you have the added benefit of a PhD.

I am a few weeks from completing my first semester of law school. I have not regretted my decision to attend law school one day and it is every bit the challenge you hear about on TLS. What drives my daily spirit, keeps me focused and permits me to enjoy this opportunity is much deeper than the potential of high income. There are many other things we could do to make money so to say it is all about the money is inaccurate. I'd say the decision to attend law school was more to do with living life than income potential. Its about ceasing an opportunity that may not be there tomorrow. The reaction of my family and friends when informed of my decision to attend law school was enlightening. Most of them spoke of dreams of doing more such as going back to school but not everyone can, wants or may know how to make their dreams of accepting bigger challenges real. And the only guarantee I can give is that you will not get any younger. Our 20's are past and our 40's are screeming toward us. Better to be a law student at 30 than 40 (and for me at least it was better to be a law student at 30 than 20 but that is beside the point). If you delay you will only get older.

However, I am not advocating for wanton reckless behavior. You still have to consider the time commitments and costs of law school and what employment opportunities there will be upon graduation.

The LSAT is doable. It is just a matter of how much you are willing to put into it. Its all about practice. And personally I found the work I put into the LSAT was a good introduction to law school. Best of luck in your pursuit!

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:34 pm

ArghItsBlarg wrote:As a lower-30's 0L myself, I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I'm in Chicago with a house that there's no chance of us selling in this market, so I'm also geographically locked. As for the LSAT, I started studying in June, with a modified version of Pithypike's study guide posted here on the LSAT board. I studied on my train commute every day, sneaking in some studying at work as well. No review course. I borrowed the 2011 Princeton Review from the library, and then it was all practice tests purchased from Amazon. I took the October LSAT 8 days after my second child was born and scored a 173. My brain may not be quite as fine-tuned as it was 10 years ago, but I'd like to think the added wisdom and maturity aided the regularity and practicality of my study habits.

I'm currently planning on going to a Tier Two school, part time, and getting as much scholarship money as I can garner. It'll be pretty hard, especially first year, but it can be done and the potential benefits outweigh staying in my current job track by a power of ten.


This IS VERY HELPFUL! like i said i haven't started studying but i checked out a "cracking the LSAT" book from the library too. the questions seem interesting, lol, yes i am a nerd. but it is encourage to see a 173 from someone with young child!

Do they generally give $ to part times? Santa Clara also have a 4 yr part time program. Are you planning to take a reduced work schedule for the 4 years of part time law school?

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:42 pm

r6_philly wrote:As I found out myself, if you want to make 150k+ with a coding background, you have to get some management skills on paper. I can be 20 years into my career and the highest I can go is Tech Lead/Team Lead/Development Manager (this is pushing it too). Interviewed at a national company this summer and I was told this. I can be the boss of the whole development department, but that boss never even been to the penthouse levels (where the executives are). So your career and income potential is capped. MBA breaks that.

i don't disagree with the fact that mba helps one to move into a management position, but i just don't think it's right for me personally. also, i've seen directors and VPs without mba's, and i know for a fact that 150k+ is possible for developers. maybe it's the valley, but for pure financial reasons it doesn't make sense to do a jd. that said, the salary *potential* for a jd is much higher, if you want to go the partnership route.

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:44 pm

kopper wrote:The LSAT is doable. It is just a matter of how much you are willing to put into it. Its all about practice. And personally I found the work I put into the LSAT was a good introduction to law school. Best of luck in your pursuit!

glad to hear that! i was really intrigued by the sample questions that i saw!

r6_philly
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby r6_philly » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:16 pm

valleybound wrote:i don't disagree with the fact that mba helps one to move into a management position, but i just don't think it's right for me personally. also, i've seen directors and VPs without mba's, and i know for a fact that 150k+ is possible for developers. maybe it's the valley, but for pure financial reasons it doesn't make sense to do a jd. that said, the salary *potential* for a jd is much higher, if you want to go the partnership route.


I guess east coat market is a bit weaker. But 150k in the valley is probably 100-110k in my area (in terms of buying power). I am not saying it can't be done, but it would be easier. Plus I want to stop coding and start tell other people what to code without having to have other people tell me what to tell other people what to code. :lol: No middle management for me.

r6_philly
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby r6_philly » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:18 pm

valleybound wrote:
kopper wrote:The LSAT is doable. It is just a matter of how much you are willing to put into it. Its all about practice. And personally I found the work I put into the LSAT was a good introduction to law school. Best of luck in your pursuit!

glad to hear that! i was really intrigued by the sample questions that i saw!


I received a 170 without minimal prep. I was working full-time and going to school over full-time, with an infant. I studied 10-25 minutes every night at like 2-3am, and took no timed prep tests (I did timed sections, but not all in one sitting). I think I could have done better if I had the time to prep for even just a month. You should be fine getting at least a 170.

sarahh
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby sarahh » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:32 pm

r6_philly wrote:
valleybound wrote:
kopper wrote:The LSAT is doable. It is just a matter of how much you are willing to put into it. Its all about practice. And personally I found the work I put into the LSAT was a good introduction to law school. Best of luck in your pursuit!

glad to hear that! i was really intrigued by the sample questions that i saw!


I received a 170 without minimal prep. I was working full-time and going to school over full-time, with an infant. I studied 10-25 minutes every night at like 2-3am, and took no timed prep tests (I did timed sections, but not all in one sitting). I think I could have done better if I had the time to prep for even just a month. You should be fine getting at least a 170.


I think it is helpful to do a few one-sitting timed tests, but it does not necessarily have to take up the bulk of your study. During the week I did not want to take a full test after coming home from work, so I worked on individual sections. I scored a 179, even with my foggy 27-year-old brain.

valleybound
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby valleybound » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:56 pm

interesting! i was under the impression that blueprint (or whatever tutoring course available) is necessary to crack 170ish. and i don't want to spend the $. :)

sarahh
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Re: geo constraint and, well, old age

Postby sarahh » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:04 pm

valleybound wrote:interesting! i was under the impression that blueprint (or whatever tutoring course available) is necessary to crack 170ish. and i don't want to spend the $. :)


I took a class, but the class sessions themselves were not that helpful. It was doing the homework that was helpful.




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