Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

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miamiman
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Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby miamiman » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:39 pm

http://thecareerist.typepad.com/thecare ... by-uk.html

The Brits are Still Snootier
Vivia Chen

July 29, 2010


Think those big American law firms are credentials-obsessed? They are paragons of open opportunity in comparison to the hiring practices of the Magic Circle firms.

U.K.'s Legal Week reports that 38 percent of recent law school grads training at the Magic Circle firms (Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Slaughter and May, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Linklaters) hailed from Oxford or Cambridge in the last two years. And at Slaughter and May, arguably the most elite of the elite in the U.K., "the figure rose to almost half (48%), with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer not far off at 44%."

Moreover, Legal Week finds that 65 percent of the Magic Circle recruits "attended an institution classified by The Times as a top 10 university." And that only 11.7 of the recruits attended schools below the 20th rank in the UK, and only about ten percent from overseas institutions.

Obviously, all of this is in stark contrast to true-blue American firms. I can't think of a top firm without a sizable pool of graduates from second tier schools, and even a sprinkling from schools further down the food chain. In fact, every big firm seems to have a favorite lower-tier school that's well-represented.

In New York, at least, you'd be hard pressed not to find a sizable representation from a place like Fordham Law School, which is ranked 34th in the nation. At Cravath, Swaine & Moore, for instance, I counted about 25 lawyers who are Fordham grads, including five partners.

Could that happen in the Magic Circle? Is there a Liverpool Law contingency out there? Oh, lord, no!

But what's really amusing to me is that Slaughter and May's executive partner Graham White insists that the firm is not exclusionary. Here's what he tells Legal Week: "We aim to recruit the best graduates on merit regardless of educational background and are committed to eliminating irrelevant barriers. As part of this we are working to make sure that no students feel they are excluded because of their schooling or university."

Legal Week rightfully questions how this continuing dominance by these two exclusive academic institutions will serve the goals of diversity:


It's an issue that tends to divide people into two opposing camps, both somewhat disconnected from reality. One school of thought says that university and school grades are a near-perfect barometer of merit, while the other camp fume it is all about privilege, usually before churning out a story about an Oxbridge lawyer they have met who is thick as a post.
Both positions taken to extremes are, of course, utter nonsense. University education is a strong indicator of intellectual ability, especially in careers like law that are based on structured learning. But privilege bestows huge educational advantages over the great unwashed, so social factors clearly have a considerable impact on ultimate academic achievement. Unfortunately that doesn't fit into a neat box or provide an easy solution (or villain for that matter).

So how top-drawer are those Magic Circle firms? And how do the unwashed Yanks measure up against those Oxbridge fellows?

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email The Careerist's chief blogger Vivia Chen at VChen@alm.com.

Photo: The Oxford University rugby union team, 1891.

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romothesavior
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:42 pm

Just a totally off-the-cuff guess, and total conjecture on my part... but perhaps this has something to do with there being a far higher ratio of schools:firms in the U.S. as compared to the UK? Perhaps the UK has decided that there doesn't need to be a law school every 100 square miles like we have in the U.S.?

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dresden doll
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby dresden doll » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:00 pm

However so that may be, I know of median CLS students credibly bidding on these firms for the upcoming OCI. Seriously considering them for my own bidlist, in fact.

miamiman
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby miamiman » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:02 pm

dresden doll wrote:However so that may be, I know of median CLS students credibly bidding on these firms for the upcoming OCI. Seriously considering them for my own bidlist, in fact.


Does Chicago travel to England?

:wink:

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clintonius
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby clintonius » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:03 pm

Romo's point is credited. In addition,

1) I wouldn't be surprised if the percentage of V5 recruits who come from top-10 schools is around 65%.
2) 25 Fordham grads at Cravath is less than 5%. I find it difficult to believe that, relative to the number of law schools in the UK vs the US, there aren't comparably-ranked schools that hold 5% of the spots in any of the Magic Circle firms.
3) At any rate, using Fordham as an example is disengenuous, because it's an outlier in New York firms. You won't find the same number of, say, Minnesota or GW grads, even though they're ranked appreciably higher.

Also wondering if the different undergrad/law school structure in the UK doesn't affect this somehow.
Last edited by clintonius on Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dresden doll
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby dresden doll » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:04 pm

miamiman wrote:
dresden doll wrote:However so that may be, I know of median CLS students credibly bidding on these firms for the upcoming OCI. Seriously considering them for my own bidlist, in fact.


Does Chicago travel to England?

:wink:


It had better, dammit. :)

MJMD
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby MJMD » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:22 pm

clintonius wrote:Also wondering if the different undergrad/law school structure in the UK doesn't affect this somehow.


I'm sure it does, since there is no undergrad/law school structure in the UK, where law is undergrad. That's assuming you even choose to study law in university before becoming a lawyer, since there's no requirement to do so: firms and professional organizations will provide all the training necessary to be qualified as a barrister or a solicitor. So because your degree does not provide you with any necessary qualifications in and of itself (other than the fact that you have one), it's only useful as a marker of pure prestige.

I would guess that, of the 11.7% of recruited alumni from schools below the 20th rank, all have degrees in law: but of the 38-48% from Oxford/Cambridge, probably no more than half have an LL.B, while the rest have "first class" degrees in other disciplines.

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clintonius
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby clintonius » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:37 pm

MJMD wrote:
clintonius wrote:Also wondering if the different undergrad/law school structure in the UK doesn't affect this somehow.
I'm sure it does, since there is no undergrad/law school structure in the UK, where law is undergrad. That's assuming you even choose to study law in university before becoming a lawyer, since there's no requirement to do so: firms and professional organizations will provide all the training necessary to be qualified as a barrister or a solicitor. So because your degree does not provide you with any necessary qualifications in and of itself (other than the fact that you have one), it's only useful as a marker of pure prestige.

I would guess that, of the 11.7% of recruited alumni from schools below the 20th rank, all have degrees in law: but of the 38-48% from Oxford/Cambridge, probably no more than half have an LL.B, while the rest have "first class" degrees in other disciplines.
I thought the law degree was essentially an undergrad program, but I wasn't confident enough to state it. Thanks for clearing that up.

Anyways. The Careerist ran a great series where she interviewed hiring partners and published their thoughts, but overall I don't think the column is that great. This one was particularly meh.

miamiman
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby miamiman » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:41 pm

clintonius wrote:
MJMD wrote:
clintonius wrote:Also wondering if the different undergrad/law school structure in the UK doesn't affect this somehow.
I'm sure it does, since there is no undergrad/law school structure in the UK, where law is undergrad. That's assuming you even choose to study law in university before becoming a lawyer, since there's no requirement to do so: firms and professional organizations will provide all the training necessary to be qualified as a barrister or a solicitor. So because your degree does not provide you with any necessary qualifications in and of itself (other than the fact that you have one), it's only useful as a marker of pure prestige.

I would guess that, of the 11.7% of recruited alumni from schools below the 20th rank, all have degrees in law: but of the 38-48% from Oxford/Cambridge, probably no more than half have an LL.B, while the rest have "first class" degrees in other disciplines.
I thought the law degree was essentially an undergrad program, but I wasn't confident enough to state it. Thanks for clearing that up.

Anyways. The Careerist ran a great series where she interviewed hiring partners and published their thoughts, but overall I don't think the column is that great. This one was particularly meh.


I have the RSS feed. I posted the interviews as they arose (the Vinson & Elkins / Jones Day interviews being the best). They can't all be winners, though.

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KMaine
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby KMaine » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:58 pm

I think you mean "more prestige-obsessed than we." Pull that kind of grammar slip up on a British job ap. and you will be collecting unemployment.

sophie316
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby sophie316 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:18 pm

What this article misses is that a lot of those people did not do law as a first degree. They likely did a conversion course and then got a law job. There probably aren't even enough law grads from Oxbridge to fill all those spots if you don't count those that did conversion courses.

I'm also pretty sure getting a pupillage for the bar(for certain practices at least) is even harder than getting a job w the magic circle.

Also worth noting: the gradations of degree over here are a 1st, 2:1, 2:2 etc. I would imagine that prestige plays a bigger role bc you don't have such fine gradations of performance.

Finally it is, I am told, a lot easier to get hired by a magic circle firm w a JD to do US law than if youre trying to be a solicitor and practice UK law.

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como
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby como » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:48 pm

This is the dumbest article I have ever read.

So, a few of the top firms in London take most of their students from the top schools in the UK? Big surprise!

Considering that Oxbridge grads probably account for the top 7-12% of all law grads in the UK, that seems to jive pretty well with the stats on this side of the pond.

I mean, considering that the T14's population is roughly equivalent to the top 10% of the population of law students, and the V10 overwhelmingly takes the top students of a fraction of the T14, we are probably even more prestige-obsessed.

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby Hitachi » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:14 pm

Firms aren't more concerned, despite the silly article, if you look at what % of graduates are competitve, and if you compare apples to apples (Slaughter to Wachtell, not Cravath).

However, UK students are way more prestige-obsessed. London branches of US firms pay 50% more than Magic Circle firms, but the top students still go to the UK firms. If Clifford Chance started paying 240K in New York, you can bet Americans would choose them over Simpson Thacher at 160K.

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby sophie316 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:10 am

Hitachi wrote:Firms aren't more concerned, despite the silly article, if you look at what % of graduates are competitve, and if you compare apples to apples (Slaughter to Wachtell, not Cravath).

However, UK students are way more prestige-obsessed. London branches of US firms pay 50% more than Magic Circle firms, but the top students still go to the UK firms. If Clifford Chance started paying 240K in New York, you can bet Americans would choose them over Simpson Thacher at 160K.


In fairness, while, for example, Cleary pays more than what Allen and Overy does (£106,000 3 years post qualification vs £84,000), Allen and Overy takes over 100 trainees each year and Cleary only takes 10.

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby NYAssociate » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:50 am

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Last edited by NYAssociate on Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MJMD
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby MJMD » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:42 am

NYAssociate wrote:Depends on what you define as a "top school." US law firms have more schools represented because the US has more top schools. We have 14 of such law schools. England doesn't have nearly as much. But when you account for representation of those 14 schools in top US law firms, you'll probably find that the percentages correlate pretty well.


"Top school" in Britain does not only mean Oxford & Cambridge (though those are obviously the best): by any reasonable definition, you also have to include Durham; St. Andrew's, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh in Scotland; and LSE, UCL, and King's in London. But again, since there are no postgraduate "law schools" in Britain, we're really only talking about top universities here; so the fact that the Scottish universities teach 'Scots' law' is irrelevant, since anyone with a first in any subject from one of them can still go and take the conversion course in London; and we have to include Imperial College as well, despite the fact that they lack a Faculty of Law. I also wouldn't write off a university like Manchester when it comes to the sciences and engineering.

That's 11.5 particularly impressive institutions that I can name off the top of my head, against the T14 law schools in the United States, for a population of 62 million as opposed to 310 million. Also, because law is being taught as an undergraduate degree in these places, it's possible that they actually admit a higher number of "law students" on average than the T14 schools. So I'd actually argue that the United States doesn't have nearly as many "top law schools" as Britain, relative to the population.

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby romothesavior » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:58 pm

MJMD wrote:
NYAssociate wrote:Depends on what you define as a "top school." US law firms have more schools represented because the US has more top schools. We have 14 of such law schools. England doesn't have nearly as much. But when you account for representation of those 14 schools in top US law firms, you'll probably find that the percentages correlate pretty well.


"Top school" in Britain does not only mean Oxford & Cambridge (though those are obviously the best): by any reasonable definition, you also have to include Durham; St. Andrew's, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh in Scotland; and LSE, UCL, and King's in London. But again, since there are no postgraduate "law schools" in Britain, we're really only talking about top universities here; so the fact that the Scottish universities teach 'Scots' law' is irrelevant, since anyone with a first in any subject from one of them can still go and take the conversion course in London; and we have to include Imperial College as well, despite the fact that they lack a Faculty of Law. I also wouldn't write off a university like Manchester when it comes to the sciences and engineering.

That's 11.5 particularly impressive institutions that I can name off the top of my head, against the T14 law schools in the United States, for a population of 62 million as opposed to 310 million. Also, because law is being taught as an undergraduate degree in these places, it's possible that they actually admit a higher number of "law students" on average than the T14 schools. So I'd actually argue that the United States doesn't have nearly as many "top law schools" as Britain, relative to the population.


You sure you are using the term "impressive" in an apples to apples manner? Is a Glasgow or an Aberdeen viewed in GB as equal to a Columbia or Chicago, or are they closer to a Fordham or a GW?

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby Borhas » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:01 pm

romothesavior wrote:Just a totally off-the-cuff guess, and total conjecture on my part... but perhaps this has something to do with there being a far higher ratio of schools:firms in the U.S. as compared to the UK? Perhaps the UK has decided that there doesn't need to be a law school every 100 square miles like we have in the U.S.?


no we are just better people

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby MJMD » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:08 pm

romothesavior wrote:
MJMD wrote:
NYAssociate wrote:Depends on what you define as a "top school." US law firms have more schools represented because the US has more top schools. We have 14 of such law schools. England doesn't have nearly as much. But when you account for representation of those 14 schools in top US law firms, you'll probably find that the percentages correlate pretty well.


"Top school" in Britain does not only mean Oxford & Cambridge (though those are obviously the best): by any reasonable definition, you also have to include Durham; St. Andrew's, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh in Scotland; and LSE, UCL, and King's in London. But again, since there are no postgraduate "law schools" in Britain, we're really only talking about top universities here; so the fact that the Scottish universities teach 'Scots' law' is irrelevant, since anyone with a first in any subject from one of them can still go and take the conversion course in London; and we have to include Imperial College as well, despite the fact that they lack a Faculty of Law. I also wouldn't write off a university like Manchester when it comes to the sciences and engineering.

That's 11.5 particularly impressive institutions that I can name off the top of my head, against the T14 law schools in the United States, for a population of 62 million as opposed to 310 million. Also, because law is being taught as an undergraduate degree in these places, it's possible that they actually admit a higher number of "law students" on average than the T14 schools. So I'd actually argue that the United States doesn't have nearly as many "top law schools" as Britain, relative to the population.


You sure you are using the term "impressive" in an apples to apples manner? Is a Glasgow or an Aberdeen viewed in GB as equal to a Columbia or Chicago, or are they closer to a Fordham or a GW?


As I said, it's straight university quality. A few of the schools in the T14 are not even ranked among the Top 50 universities worldwide, regardless of the reputation of their law schools in the United States. If Oxford and Cambridge = Yale and Harvard, then Imperial or LSE might be equivalent to Columbia or NYU, albeit not necessarily CLS or NYU Law. Maybe a school like Durham is comparable to Brown. As for the Scottish schools, St. Andrew's was good enough for "William Wales" (Prince William), and among the Scottish elite (who are relatively powerful in Britain, thanks to devolution, inherited wealth, North Sea oil, standing in the House of Lords, and other factors) Edinburgh and Glasgow have a reputation comparable to that of Oxford or Cambridge.

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby Hitachi » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:10 pm

sophie316 wrote:
Hitachi wrote:Firms aren't more concerned, despite the silly article, if you look at what % of graduates are competitve, and if you compare apples to apples (Slaughter to Wachtell, not Cravath).

However, UK students are way more prestige-obsessed. London branches of US firms pay 50% more than Magic Circle firms, but the top students still go to the UK firms. If Clifford Chance started paying 240K in New York, you can bet Americans would choose them over Simpson Thacher at 160K.


In fairness, while, for example, Cleary pays more than what Allen and Overy does (£106,000 3 years post qualification vs £84,000), Allen and Overy takes over 100 trainees each year and Cleary only takes 10.


As far as I understand, the discrepancy is far greater.
"Lawyer 2B surveyed 23 US firms that offer training contracts in London. Latham & Watkins, Debevoise & Plimpton, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Kirkland & Ellis pay NQs £96,000, £94,250, £94,000, £92,000 and £90,000 respectively.

In contrast, magic circle NQ salaries range from £59,000 to £61,000."
http://www.thelawyer.com/bingham-shocks ... 60.article

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby sophie316 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:26 pm

Hitachi wrote:
sophie316 wrote:
Hitachi wrote:Firms aren't more concerned, despite the silly article, if you look at what % of graduates are competitve, and if you compare apples to apples (Slaughter to Wachtell, not Cravath).

However, UK students are way more prestige-obsessed. London branches of US firms pay 50% more than Magic Circle firms, but the top students still go to the UK firms. If Clifford Chance started paying 240K in New York, you can bet Americans would choose them over Simpson Thacher at 160K.


In fairness, while, for example, Cleary pays more than what Allen and Overy does (£106,000 3 years post qualification vs £84,000), Allen and Overy takes over 100 trainees each year and Cleary only takes 10.


As far as I understand, the discrepancy is far greater.
"Lawyer 2B surveyed 23 US firms that offer training contracts in London. Latham & Watkins, Debevoise & Plimpton, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Kirkland & Ellis pay NQs £96,000, £94,250, £94,000, £92,000 and £90,000 respectively.

In contrast, magic circle NQ salaries range from £59,000 to £61,000."
http://www.thelawyer.com/bingham-shocks ... 60.article


I've heard, anecdotally, that US firms have longer hours/fewer vacation days but I'm not sure that that really is true in practice.

According to Vault UK

Allen and Overy London UK practice:
1st year trainee: £38,000
2nd year trainee: £42,200
Newly qualified: £60,000
1 year PQE: £65,000
2 years PQE: £71,500
3 years PQE: £84,000

Clifford Chance London UK practice:

1st year trainee: £37,400
2nd year trainee: £42,200
Newly qualified: £59,000
1 year PQE: £68,700
2 years PQE: £82,200
3 years PQE: £89,500

White and Case London:

1st year trainee: £41,000
2nd year trainee: £43,000
Newly qualified: £72,000
1 year PQE: £82,000
2 years PQE: £97,000
3 years PQE: £108,000

Cleary London:

1st year trainee: £40,000
2nd year trainee: £45,000
Newly qualified: £92,000
2 years PQE: £97,000
3 years PQE: £106,000

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poprox
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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby poprox » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:48 pm

Population is a big factor here. England is much smaller than the United States. As a rough comparison, say England is Illinois, with Chicago being London. Would it surprise you if, in that case, someone posted an article saying "zOmg, Illinois firms hire most grads from Northwestern and UChicago!!!??".

US Firms can't get half of their talent from Harvard and Yale (even though it may seem that way right now, lol), so they dig deeper.

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby sophie316 » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:11 am

Well we are 6 times larger than IL population wise, but geography does make a big difference. In the US if you want to work in BIGLAW there are several different cities you can live in. In England, EVERYONE goes to London.

I honestly can't work out if that figure surprises me. There are lots of different factors at play such as the fact that they're counting graduates of Oxbridge who did law undergrad and then who did another subject and then law as a conversion course...so to compare you'd have to pick the equivalent of oxbridge here(HYPS?) and then count the number people who did either law OR undergrad at those schools.

On the other, its kinda sad how old boys club oxbridge obesssed this country is. but thats not really anything new.

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby NYAssociate » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:19 am

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Re: Apparently UK firms are more prestige-obsessed than us

Postby 12262010 » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:00 am

dresden doll wrote:However so that may be, I know of median CLS students credibly bidding on these firms for the upcoming OCI. Seriously considering them for my own bidlist, in fact.


srsly? seems a bit ambitious for median.




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