path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

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law&research
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path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby law&research » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:42 pm

hello, I am a 4th year PhD student in economics focusing on law and economics research. Law and economics is a very small subfield within economics and most econ departments do not have anyone working exclusively in this domain. Historically law schools have hired non-JD economist for this particiular subfield but now that's becoming rare if not completely impossible. So I am considering going to law school to acquire the necessary credentials for legal academia. In addition I also think the law school curriculum will broaden my knowledge and comprehhension of law, informing future research. It's something I wanted to do before PhD and I think it can be very fulfilling experience, this is really the primary reason, my adviser thinks I can get a job somewhere in an econ dept.

I have actually taken the LSAT about 5 years ago now and scored 177 then but a retake will be in order given the time. My UGPA is ~3.8 and Grad GPA is ~3.7, a few papers I'm revising hopefully for publication etc.

My questions are what are the best programs for legal academia? I presume Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. I looked through the Yale Law school site and see that they offer a Masters in Law program, would that be more appropriate? what are my chances for those programs? I suspect my grad gpa is a bit low but grades weren't really big deal in grad school. Chicago, Upenn, Columbia are other programs I'm targeting cause of research fit.

lastly finances is obviously important and it's unclear whether those schools offer any sort of scholarship? If not what type of schools will offer good financial package? If I work at a school where I'm pursuing my law dgree, in some post doc position for example, will tuition be waived?

Thanks in advance for any possible advice.

admisionquestion
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby admisionquestion » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:07 am

Hi,

Yale is the undisputed top school for academia. And close to the only school for academia at all. Each of the other top schools offer a few fellowship positions, but aside from those positions almost nobody outside of Yale gets academia.

With your UGPA and a 177 (assuming u can match that) lsat you will be competitive at yale, but nobody is a sure thing.

I also want to say, that while "law and econ" may be a "specialty" among econ departments it is NOT a unique area of study among legal scholars. I am sure you know more about law and econ than me, but I think as a law student I can give a little bit of insight on how legal academia views the subject. In short, Law and Econ is now treated as a sort of "given" part of most legal fields. And the impression that I have gotten from professors is that it is not specialized enough to merely be interested in L&E. YOU will have a huge edge insofar as you are coming with a stronger econ background than people who are merely intrigued by coase's theorem etc. But my point is, don't expect to be treated with particular awe.

All schools offer aid. Harvard, Yale and Stanford are strictly need based but It is my understanding that they can be very generous. Everyone else gives out aid on a scheme intended to maximize the schools incoming class for USNWR purposes. That said, basically any school under #14 will give you a full ride and you will likely get several full rides form the top 14.

If you don't get Yale, I would really encourage you to consider dipping lower into the rankings and taking a full ride then taking columbia at near sticker price if your goal is academia.

Finally, legal professors make A LOT more money than most other professors... so keep that in mind ;)

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Br3v
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby Br3v » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:14 am

admisionquestion wrote:Hi,

Yale is the undisputed top school for academia. And close to the only school for academia at all. Each of the other top schools offer a few fellowship positions, but aside from those positions almost nobody outside of Yale gets academia.

With your UGPA and a 177 (assuming u can match that) lsat you will be competitive at yale, but nobody is a sure thing.

I also want to say, that while "law and econ" may be a "specialty" among econ departments it is NOT a unique area of study among legal scholars. I am sure you know more about law and econ than me, but I think as a law student I can give a little bit of insight on how legal academia views the subject. In short, Law and Econ is now treated as a sort of "given" part of most legal fields. And the impression that I have gotten from professors is that it is not specialized enough to merely be interested in L&E. YOU will have a huge edge insofar as you are coming with a stronger econ background than people who are merely intrigued by coase's theorem etc. But my point is, don't expect to be treated with particular awe.

All schools offer aid. Harvard, Yale and Stanford are strictly need based but It is my understanding that they can be very generous. Everyone else gives out aid on a scheme intended to maximize the schools incoming class for USNWR purposes. That said, basically any school under #14 will give you a full ride and you will likely get several full rides form the top 14.

If you don't get Yale, I would really encourage you to consider dipping lower into the rankings and taking a full ride then taking columbia at near sticker price if your goal is academia.

Finally, legal professors make A LOT more money than most other professors... so keep that in mind ;)


This response is pretty much dead on in my opinion except that I would say that if you don't get HYS target Chi. In fact I don't think it is out of the question to chose chi off the bat due to the fact that you will already have the Econ PhD and thus are comitted to the field. All would be great choices IMO.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:16 am

The best program for legal academia is Yale, followed by Stanford and Harvard. Chicago and Columbia are fourth and fifth, with Chicago having a slight edge on Columbia.

I'm in the JD program at one of HYS, and there are a lot of PhDs here, including some economics PhDs. You need to get a JD - even if you could get into some kind of masters program, it wouldn't be much help. And I'm fairly confident Yale's MA program doesn't take Americans.

While your UG GPA is a bit on the low side, with a 174+ LSAT score you would be extremely likely to get into one of the top 3 programs.

HYS offer need-based scholarships. Past a certain age (around 28, I think), they stop considering parental income. So, unless you have money saved, you should qualify for substantial need-based support. Also, all three schools have programs that repay students' loans for them after graduation, if the students don't make a certain amount of money and/or chose certain career paths. In academia you would probably make too much to qualify, but perhaps not while clerking or on fellowships. So there is a good chance your school would pay bacl some of your loan for you.

The big program right now for legal academia, as you might be aware, is that JD student numbers are plummeting. As a result, the bottom end of the job market will likely be close to non-existent over the next few years, as those schools look to reduce faculty numbers. The top schools might not reduce faculty numbers much, if at all, but this does mean you'll have fewer options. Even more reason to make sure you get into HYS (ideally Y), and don't end up competing for a job at the bottom end.
Last edited by AntipodeanPhil on Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:22 am

admisionquestion wrote:If you don't get Yale, I would really encourage you to consider dipping lower into the rankings and taking a full ride then taking columbia at near sticker price if your goal is academia.

I wouldn't, although I accept there is room for disagreement here. You should look into the details of the loan repayment programs at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and Chicago, and think about what you would do if you didn't get academia.

Ti Malice
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby Ti Malice » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:29 am

Edit: Scooped.

Yale absolutely dominates in academic placement, and the institutional support is unmatched. Your academic background will give you a bit of a boost there, but you'll need to replicate that 177 performance to give yourself a strong shot with your GPA. (Also, is your ~3.8 in fact a 3.8x? Very important for Yale and Stanford.) Stanford and Harvard after that. Outside of the clear top three, Chicago probably has the best prospects and institutional support for academic placement.

The LLM program here at YLS is tiny and is strictly for foreign students with foreign law degrees. There are some specialized LLMs for Americans at different schools (all but a very few are worthless). Regardless, the JD is the degree you need, and unlike graduate school in most areas, you don't pick law schools based on specializations. Employment placement in both law practice and law teaching is strongly tied to the prestige of the school you attend, not its strength in any sub-field.

There are scholarships, but tuition will never be waived for law school. Depending upon your financial position and your parents' financial position (the latter being of decreasing importance after age 26 until age 29, when it is no longer a factor), you could qualify for very substantial need-based aid from Y, H, and S. The top three offer only need-based aid. Other top schools provide merit scholarships up to full tuition for people with high numbers, but assignment of those scholarships is not predictable within this set of applicants.
Last edited by Ti Malice on Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:30 am

Just wanted to agree that the Masters of Law program will not be useful to you for teaching in law schools - law schools will want to see a J.D. If you wanted to pursue teaching in economics programs and truly only wanted the exposure to legal scholarship/ideas, it might suffice, but it won't qualify you to teach in a law school (assuming the school doesn't believe the PhD is sufficient on its own).

Law schools do not traditionally waive tuition in return for work the way that PhD programs do. I have heard of people managing to get TA positions in non-law departments while in law school, thus waiving tuition/earning a stipend, but that would depend very much on a given school and the opportunities they provide (e.g. whether the HYS econ department would be interested in having you TA or the like). I don't know a great deal about post-doc opportunities for econ, but in the humanities (my background) such positions are full-time and either incorporate significant teaching, expect significant research production, or both; I don't think they would be compatible with going to law school full time (and HYS don't have part time programs). Because the law school curriculum is much more standardized than in Ph.D. programs, you don't have the same kind of flexibility. But I'm not saying it would necessarily be impossible, just not standard the way it is in PhD programs.

Ti Malice
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby Ti Malice » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:35 am

Br3v wrote:
admisionquestion wrote:Hi,

Yale is the undisputed top school for academia. And close to the only school for academia at all. Each of the other top schools offer a few fellowship positions, but aside from those positions almost nobody outside of Yale gets academia.

With your UGPA and a 177 (assuming u can match that) lsat you will be competitive at yale, but nobody is a sure thing.

I also want to say, that while "law and econ" may be a "specialty" among econ departments it is NOT a unique area of study among legal scholars. I am sure you know more about law and econ than me, but I think as a law student I can give a little bit of insight on how legal academia views the subject. In short, Law and Econ is now treated as a sort of "given" part of most legal fields. And the impression that I have gotten from professors is that it is not specialized enough to merely be interested in L&E. YOU will have a huge edge insofar as you are coming with a stronger econ background than people who are merely intrigued by coase's theorem etc. But my point is, don't expect to be treated with particular awe.

All schools offer aid. Harvard, Yale and Stanford are strictly need based but It is my understanding that they can be very generous. Everyone else gives out aid on a scheme intended to maximize the schools incoming class for USNWR purposes. That said, basically any school under #14 will give you a full ride and you will likely get several full rides form the top 14.

If you don't get Yale, I would really encourage you to consider dipping lower into the rankings and taking a full ride then taking columbia at near sticker price if your goal is academia.

Finally, legal professors make A LOT more money than most other professors... so keep that in mind ;)


This response is pretty much dead on in my opinion except that I would say that if you don't get HYS target Chi. In fact I don't think it is out of the question to chose chi off the bat due to the fact that you will already have the Econ PhD and thus are comitted to the field. All would be great choices IMO.


It's definitely out of the question to choose Chicago from the outset.

law&research
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby law&research » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:08 am

thanks for the quick responses and insights!

I definitely have more specialized interest within law and economics but I guess I'm speaking more generally because I'm afraid of being identified lol

I reviewed my undergrad transcript again just now, my UGPA is ~3.85 and grad GPA is ~3.78. Checking some statistics online it seems to be lower than median GPA at HYS, is that more forgivable considering it was close to 5 years ago now? I'm definitely hoping for a repeat performance on lsat. do LORs carry much weight for law admission?

I have been considering programs by thinking of the faculty in the law and econ schools there that I would like to work with. When it comes to legal academic hires is there anything a law student should be doing to best prepare himself? I was hoping to be able to continue work on my research and maybe get a few publications in law and econ journals to best position myself but maybe I'm missing some of the nuances of the legal academic market.

hey AntipodeanPhil so it sounds like there's sizable PhD students pursuing JD degrees at HYS? I'm somewhat relieved since I had anticipated being significantly older than most of the students.

what do these need based financial aid entail? are they loan based?

thank you all!

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thewaves
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby thewaves » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:25 am

Is there a reason why your grad GPA is so low? Make sure you get good recommendations, though I imagine that won't be hard for you.

Yale especially values academic LORs.

Publish publish publish--same rule for legal academia.

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Lavitz
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby Lavitz » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:43 am

law&research wrote:I reviewed my undergrad transcript again just now, my UGPA is ~3.85 and grad GPA is ~3.78. Checking some statistics online it seems to be lower than median GPA at HYS, is that more forgivable considering it was close to 5 years ago now? I'm definitely hoping for a repeat performance on lsat. do LORs carry much weight for law admission?

Maybe a little forgiving, but really if you score 175+ again, you have a good shot at H no matter what.

Image

The LoRs don't carry that much weight, but if there's any place that does place weight on it, you can bet it's HYS--especially Yale.
Asha wrote:Yale Law School is an academically rigorous place to begin with, but given that we have professors making the bulk of admissions decisions on top of that, recommendations which speak to your academic ability will carry the most weight and influence in your application. In other words, professors care most about what other (surprise!) professors have to say about you.


law&research wrote:I have been considering programs by thinking of the faculty in the law and econ schools there that I would like to work with. When it comes to legal academic hires is there anything a law student should be doing to best prepare himself? I was hoping to be able to continue work on my research and maybe get a few publications in law and econ journals to best position myself but maybe I'm missing some of the nuances of the legal academic market.

Scooped by thewaves, but yes, publishing is probably the most best thing you can be doing right now.

I don't know if this will help you or not, but I'll just leave this thread here: Law professor taking questions.

And apparently Yale has an entire 100 page manual on entering the legal academic market.

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thewaves
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby thewaves » Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:02 am

Nice find on the manual, Lavitz

Ti Malice
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby Ti Malice » Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:12 am

law&research wrote:I reviewed my undergrad transcript again just now, my UGPA is ~3.85 and grad GPA is ~3.78. Checking some statistics online it seems to be lower than median GPA at HYS, is that more forgivable considering it was close to 5 years ago now? I'm definitely hoping for a repeat performance on lsat. do LORs carry much weight for law admission?


A strong uGPA is essential for YHS no matter how long you've been out of undergrad. Fortunately, you're above the 3.8 floors of YLS and SLS, and you're fine for HLS which has been taking people with 3.6x GPAs and high LSATs in substantial numbers lately. A 173 would give you a strong shot at HLS. You really need to come in at or above YLS's LSAT 75th percentile to have a good shot there (good by YLS standards, that is). Your chances at SLS increase substantially at that level as well.

I have been considering programs by thinking of the faculty in the law and econ schools there that I would like to work with. When it comes to legal academic hires is there anything a law student should be doing to best prepare himself? I was hoping to be able to continue work on my research and maybe get a few publications in law and econ journals to best position myself but maybe I'm missing some of the nuances of the legal academic market.


As others have said, definitely publish.

hey AntipodeanPhil so it sounds like there's sizable PhD students pursuing JD degrees at HYS? I'm somewhat relieved since I had anticipated being significantly older than most of the students.


Not AntipodeanPhil, but yes, there is a sizable contingent of PhD/ABD students at YHS. Especially Y.

what do these need based financial aid entail? are they loan based?


Need-based financial aid refers to grants, not loans. The portion of the cost of attendance not covered by grants is covered by loans.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:53 am

Ti Malice wrote:
law&research wrote:hey AntipodeanPhil so it sounds like there's sizable PhD students pursuing JD degrees at HYS? I'm somewhat relieved since I had anticipated being significantly older than most of the students.

Not AntipodeanPhil, but yes, there is a sizable contingent of PhD/ABD students at YHS. Especially Y.

Yeah, I'm guessing each takes in 20+ PhDs per year. Philosophy and history seem more common than econ, although there are also a good number of PhDs in the other humanities and the sciences.

Some of those PhDs have taught for a while before starting law school - sometimes even a decade or more - so you won't be the oldest.

Also, I think some of the other posters are underestimating (a little) how much your PhD will help you at HYS (especially Y and S). If it's from a strong research school, I think you'd be almost certain to get into one or more of HYS with a 174+. And I only write 'almost' in case there's something weird in your application that you or we don't know about, like a scathing letter of recommendation or a bizarre personal statement. Y and S care a bit more about that stuff than the other schools, which is one reason why the PhD will help you - you should get much better letters.

Ti Malice
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby Ti Malice » Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:06 am

AntipodeanPhil wrote:Also, I think some of the other posters are underestimating (a little) how much your PhD will help you at HYS (especially Y and S). If it's from a strong research school, I think you'd be almost certain to get into one or more of HYS with a 174+. And I only write 'almost' in case there's something weird in your application that you or we don't know about, like a scathing letter of recommendation or a bizarre personal statement. Y and S care a bit more about that stuff than the other schools, which is one reason why the PhD will help you - you should get much better letters.


That's fair. But I have seen applicants with PhDs who I thought stood very strong chances at Y and S end up rejected, so I'm personally hesitant to be too sanguine about OP's chances with a score closer to median. But I definitely agree that PhDs provide a boost.

OP, I forgot to say in my previous reply to you that LORs are generally a minuscule factor in admissions (unless they're negative, that is), but they're fairly important at Y and S (particularly Y). As Phil said, that should play to your advantage.

law&research
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby law&research » Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:29 am

thewaves wrote:Is there a reason why your grad GPA is so low? Make sure you get good recommendations, though I imagine that won't be hard for you.

Yale especially values academic LORs.

Publish publish publish--same rule for legal academia.


1st year economics core was pretty difficult and there were little incentive to ace the classes since passing the qualifying exam was the first priority and brainstorming research ideas was the 2nd.

Thank you Lavitz for the link to mylsn!

is UGPA more important than grad GPA because UGPA is the one that gets reported for law school ranking purpose? I'm definitely closer to bottom quartile in term of GPA for yale so I will try to compensate with that lsat magic again and hopefully get 177+

My main concerns are whether this is the right path. It's a decision I need to make for myself obviously but I would love to hear experiences from people who have pursued this or know of others who have done such. My advisers and even some professors I worked with at the law school here don't really recommend it because of the opportunity cost. For me it definitely is academia or bust and there's an overwhelming slant towards HYS for law academia hiring. academic econ is also pretty pedigree driven but the drop off in law might be even steeper.

what would you guys say the percentage of people who are able to get legal academia out of those that aspire for it at a place at yale? out of those with a phd? trying to gauge how competitive legal job market is.

some pluses and minuses I have collected about going to law school

+law school classes and more intimate knowledge of the law
+extend my pipeline of research through exposure to viable questions and topics
+potential broader network of collaborators at the school
+acquire accreditation for law academic market

-tuition + foregone earnings
-go from basically a colleague relationship with professors back to student and teacher one.

Yea I'm definitely swaying back and forth and you guys have been really helpful!

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:01 am

law&research wrote:what would you guys say the percentage of people who are able to get legal academia out of those that aspire for it at a place at yale? out of those with a phd? trying to gauge how competitive legal job market is.

It's so hard to know. Yale has information on what percentage of people who go on the academic job market end up with something, and I remember being very impressed, but I forget the precise number. Anyway, you don't want to know what percentage of all Yale JDs who want academia get it, not even what percentage of Yale JDs with a PhD get it. You want to know what percentage with an econ PhD get something.

What I would suggest is to google the HYS grads on this list until you find some with econ PhDs, and then email them:

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblaw ... ation.html

I imagine most would be happy to talk to you. Of course, they'll probably all tell you to do what they did, but it's probably the best way to get information nonetheless.

Also, keep in mind that student application numbers have plummeted recently, and no one really knows what that is going to do to the job market. So even what data there is might not be that helpful.

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thewaves
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby thewaves » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:42 pm

what would you guys say the percentage of people who are able to get legal academia out of those that aspire for it at a place at yale? out of those with a phd? trying to gauge how competitive legal job market is.


There are different paths to academia in law. Clerkship? VAP? Practicing for a few years? In the other thread a poster already linked to, a professor made the comment that legal academic hiring is moving much more toward a value on publishing than professor connections.

Once you get to law school, you'll figure out your research agenda and path. Grab a mentor to help you along.

AspiringAcademic
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby AspiringAcademic » Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:22 am

I was in a similar position when I was applying two years ago. Here are my thoughts:

1.) Your undergrad GPA is high enough that it won't bar you from anywhere except maybe Yale, and their admission process is so random that they're always a crap shoot. I got HS and a full ride at UChicago with lower (Yale waitlisted me).
2.) You should talk to law professors, both now and once offers have started to come in. If you've been doing law and econ type work then you or your advisors probably know a fair number of them. Start working the rolodex.
3.) Every law professor I asked told me that Harvard and Stanford were not worth turning down a full ride at Chicago (they likely would have added "or Columbia/UVA/several others"). Some of that was particular to me, some of that might be good general advice. Since you're law and econ, there are enough exemplars with your basic profile that you can probably get a fair sense of how people with your credentials did coming out of each school by talking to faculty.
4.) Faculty mentorship is a much bigger deal than a point or two in USNews. By the time you're actually choosing between schools (next winter) you should be in correspondence with professors at each.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: path to legal academia. seeking some informed advice

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Mon Jul 15, 2013 5:47 pm

Not to get off topic here, but does anyone know how Harvard determines your parents income? Do they just ask for the last financial year's tax return? Do they re-evaluate every year?




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