No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

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bloodorangedeer
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No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby bloodorangedeer » Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:21 pm

....
Last edited by bloodorangedeer on Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rpupkin
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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:33 pm

bloodorangedeer wrote:Had a rough write-on week, ended up missing secondary and primary LR. Otherwise, good grades, work experience, and professor recs (all three clerked for SCOTUS). Are there any CoA judges who are known to be lenient re: necessity of Journal? Should I apply now (rising 2L) or wait a year? Any advice appreciated!

Sure, you have hope for COA, but you're not a particularly strong candidate. COA judges see plenty of apps from top 5% types from lower-T14s. And it doesn't matter that all three of your professor recs were former SCOTUS clerks; what the professors say in their letters is far more important.

As for your lack of a journal, not all judges will care. But the vast majority will care if you don't have have anything else going on in law school. What have you done (or are going to do) in law school besides study for class? You need to do something--publish a paper, lead a student organization, organize a conference--that shows that you're not lazy.

sandwhich
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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby sandwhich » Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:36 pm

Do research into judges. I know of multiple judges that do not give a darn about LR (or journal for that matter), both D. Court and CoA. Those judges are more looking for personality fit and other traits. You have to do research to figure that out. A professor that knows a judge and would go to bat for you is the absolute best thing you can do, so go for that. At a T14 it's more than likely that many of your professors have good relationships with judges.

Edit: scooped

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:22 pm

I was top 1 or 2 percent at a "T14" school. I did not do any journal. I did not do any frivolous extra activities. I received a few CoA interviews, two on "prestigious" circuits. Clerks, not judges, would inevitably ask if I was on law review. I would say no and truthfully explain that it was not a priority for me. They would ask why. I would give a tactful explanation for why legal academia is a racket. Good conversation would ensue. Got hired by one, etc.

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rpupkin
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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I was top 1 or 2 percent at a "T14" school. I did not do any journal. I did not do any frivolous extra activities. I received a few CoA interviews, two on "prestigious" circuits. Clerks, not judges, would inevitably ask if I was on law review. I would say no and truthfully explain that it was not a priority for me. They would ask why. I would give a tactful explanation for why legal academia is a racket. Good conversation would ensue. Got hired by one, etc.

What's does the "etc." stand for? :)

Also, if you're at a lower T14 and want a COA clerkship, there's a significant difference between top 1% and top 5%.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:52 am

FWIW, I disagree with your point about distinguishing between the top 1% and top 5% at "lower T-14" schools.

First, judges might not be able to differentiate between grades at these percentages. At X school a 3.84 might be top 5% while a 3.89 might be top 1%. Some schools will tell a judge or student, but other schools stay faithful to keeping these stats anon. Lots of times someone will get called into an interview and the judge will not have a specific idea of where such a students stands, at least at this granular level.

Second, not all top 1%s are created equal in the eyes of a judge. A decent number of top students ace 1L and retire to "easy" classes or stuff they are passionate about. Another group continues to take classes like FedJur. At times, these groups can be mutually exclusive. A judge who is looking at grades closely probably weights a 3.84 above a 3.89 if the former includes really good grades in Admin and CrimPro and the latter does not. People can quibble with whether this makes sense, but I do think it is often true.

Lastly, by and large, I do not think judges are differentiating between an NYU, Northwestern, Penn, Cornell, the way some people think. Absent some connection, a Judge on the 9th circuit likely thinks of Penn in a substantially similar fashion as they think of Cornell, even though one is a "lower 14" and the other is a middling 14. Top 3% at Michigan with an impressive application is probably going to get the same calls as top 3% at UVA.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jul 24, 2015 5:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, I disagree with your point about distinguishing between the top 1% and top 5% at "lower T-14" schools.

First, judges might not be able to differentiate between grades at these percentages. At X school a 3.84 might be top 5% while a 3.89 might be top 1%. Some schools will tell a judge or student, but other schools stay faithful to keeping these stats anon. Lots of times someone will get called into an interview and the judge will not have a specific idea of where such a students stands, at least at this granular level.

I reviewed clerkship apps as a COA Clerk. Your characterization is not consistent with my experience. Outside of HYS, all the top schools had ways--both formal and informal-of signaling who its top 3 to 5 students were.

You're right that we wouldn't know the difference between 3.84 and 3.89 at a particular school for a particular class. And that's precisely why my judge (and many other judges) cared about knowing the rank of the student. Probably for that reason, it seems like all the non-HYS schools will let the judge know--either through special award designations or through references in faculty letters of recommendation--whether a student was in the top 3 or the top 5. Can you name a T14 school that doesn't do some form of this? I can't think of one.

Lastly, by and large, I do not think judges are differentiating between an NYU, Northwestern, Penn, Cornell, the way some people think. Absent some connection, a Judge on the 9th circuit likely thinks of Penn in a substantially similar fashion as they think of Cornell, even though one is a "lower 14" and the other is a middling 14. Top 3% at Michigan with an impressive application is probably going to get the same calls as top 3% at UVA.

I basically agree with this. (And when I wrote "lower T14," I was thinking of schools like Penn, UVA, and Michigan. I don't really follow--and I suspect most judges don't follow--the year-to-year variation of the T14.)

I do think it's fair to say that "ranking" for clerkship purposes is basically HYS > rest-of-T14. Still, there are subtle differences in the second group. At least on the East Coast, it seems that most judges think of CLS as a slightly better law school than Penn, and in turn think of Penn as a slightly better law school than Cornell. This kind of perception can matter at the margins.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2015 6:21 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, I disagree with your point about distinguishing between the top 1% and top 5% at "lower T-14" schools.

First, judges might not be able to differentiate between grades at these percentages. . . .

I reviewed clerkship apps as a COA Clerk. Your characterization is not consistent with my experience. Outside of HYS, all the top schools had ways--both formal and informal-of signaling who its top 3 to 5 students were.

Current CoA clerk. rpupkin is 100% correct.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:13 pm

Thread provoked curiosity:

I compiled this quick list using what looks to be semi-reliable data. Numerator is number of CoA clerks in a past year taken from Brian Leiter. Denominator is entering class size. Yes, transfers make the class size grow. Yes, one numerator might be off. On the other hand, many people choose not to clerk. Thus, the percentages on the right show a semi-accurate portrait of CoA placement by these "lower T-14" schools.

Duke 15/221 = 6.7%
Northwestern 16/244 = 6.5%
Texas 21/308 = 6.8%
Mich 21/318 = 6.6%
UCLA 18/314 = 5.7%
Virginia 16/366 = 4.3%

I know the initial question here was about the intersection of class rank and journal. I am pushing that question aside to address a different one: what "stats" do you need to clerk on the CoA. These numbers suggest a somewhat different conclusion than the one implied above.

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rpupkin
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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Duke 15/221 = 6.7%
Northwestern 16/244 = 6.5%
Texas 21/308 = 6.8%
Mich 21/318 = 6.6%
UCLA 18/314 = 5.7%
Virginia 16/366 = 4.3%

I know the initial question here was about the intersection of class rank and journal. I am pushing that question aside to address a different one: what "stats" do you need to clerk on the CoA. These numbers suggest a somewhat different conclusion than the one implied above.

I think you're seeing an implied conclusion that isn't there. Here's what I wrote:

"If you're at a lower T14 and want a COA clerkship, there's a significant difference between top 1% and top 5%."

I did not mean to suggest that a student who is top 5% (or top 10% or top 20%) cannot land a COA clerkship. I was pointing out--in response to a top-1% poster who was giving advice to the top-5% OP--that it's a lot easier to get a COA clerkship if you're top 1%. If you're one of the top 3-5 students at a T14 school, you're basically assured a COA clerkship if you apply broadly and if you have a decent personality. If you're in the top 5% - 10% range, you've still got a solid shot but it will be harder; plenty of folks in that range at lower T14s seek COA clerkships and strike out. Once you're down in the 10% to 25% range, it's even tougher but definitely possible with strong recommendations, good extracurriculars, and solid interviewing skills. And once in awhile a median-ish student will land a COA clerkship with a judge who doesn't care at all about grades but who really values the recommendation of a personal friend who is willing to go to bat for the student.

tl;dr: students with top grades will have an easier time landing clerkships, but good students without top grades still have a chance.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:31 pm

Yes: it is better to be better. For the purposes of line drawing, however, that tells us little.

Maybe it is not because judges cannot differentiate - maybe it is because they do not care - but the fact remains that for every CoA clerk in the top 1% at Michigan, 5 lower ranked Michigan students also get a CoA clerkship.

With that said, it seems wrong to draw a particular focus on the importance of being top 1%.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Yes: it is better to be better. For the purposes of line drawing, however, that tells us little.

Maybe it is not because judges cannot differentiate - maybe it is because they do not care - but the fact remains that for every CoA clerk in the top 1% at Michigan, 5 lower ranked Michigan students also get a CoA clerkship.

Yeah, and those five lower-ranked students will be spread out between top 2% and top 25%. I'm not sure what point you think you're making here.

With that said, it seems wrong to draw a particular focus on the importance of being top 1%.

I'm sorry it seems wrong to you. All I can say is that, based on my experience, it's a big boost to be one of the top 3-5 students in the class at a T14, and some (but certainly not all) COA judges specifically look for those credentials. For what it's worth, the law schools themselves seem to recognize this, as I explained above.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:25 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Yes: it is better to be better. For the purposes of line drawing, however, that tells us little.

Maybe it is not because judges cannot differentiate - maybe it is because they do not care - but the fact remains that for every CoA clerk in the top 1% at Michigan, 5 lower ranked Michigan students also get a CoA clerkship.

Yeah, and those five lower-ranked students will be spread out between top 2% and top 25%. I'm not sure what point you think you're making here.

With that said, it seems wrong to draw a particular focus on the importance of being top 1%.


I'm sorry it seems wrong to you. All I can say is that, based on my experience, it's a big boost to be one of the top 3-5 students in the class at a T14, and some (but certainly not all) COA judges specifically look for those credentials. For what it's worth, the law schools themselves seem to recognize this, as I explained above.


"Spread out between top 2% and top 25%" is an over-simplification.
They will be clustered at better percentages.
The "point" is that focusing on 1% is not instructive here
Finding where that cluster ends is instructive.
Judges might look for the "best" credential, but that cannot be who the majority are hiring.
If CoA judges hired basically HYS + top 1% from elsewhere, then the majority of spots would be unfilled.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2015 2:39 am

I'm the anon who agreed with rpupkin. Re the above: I'm not sure what you think you are accomplishing here, but your unwillingness to listen to actual CoA clerks tell you that enough federal appellate judges care about the 1%/5% distinction that T14s are aware of that fact and so actively let judges know if candidates are among the top students (including, by the way, those schools that 'don't rank') is just amusing. They do. I'm not sure why you're so invested in working backwards from incomplete data when we're literally telling you from personal experience that this is the case.

Do all care? I'm sure not. Does that disprove what rpupkin is saying? Not at all.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:26 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm the anon who agreed with rpupkin. Re the above: I'm not sure what you think you are accomplishing here, but your unwillingness to listen to actual CoA clerks tell you that enough federal appellate judges care about the 1%/5% distinction that T14s are aware of that fact and so actively let judges know if candidates are among the top students (including, by the way, those schools that 'don't rank') is just amusing. They do. I'm not sure why you're so invested in working backwards from incomplete data when we're literally telling you from personal experience that this is the case.

Do all care? I'm sure not. Does that disprove what rpupkin is saying? Not at all.


1. 2 clerks? Or, a mostly-complete data set spanning multiple schools that paints a substantially different picture than their personal experience? Quibble all you want, but the notion that the former is, like, intrinsically more reliable than the latter, is far from clear.

2. I am anon because I am also a CoA clerk. My personal experience is different than yours and hers/his. Both in my own case, and in the cases of other clerks that I know.

3. No one is disputing that it is good to be ranked high. And, if you read the above, you will also notice me actually saying "Maybe it is not because judges cannot differentiate." (Read: point conceded; Read: point irrelevant). The dispute is, instead, about effective line drawing.

4. Assuming that I am unwilling to listen or have some agenda is a) wrong, b) baseless, and c) needlessly personal. It also cuts both ways w/r/t pretty much anyone posting in an online forum. Additionally, I guess it is cool if a data set amuses you. But, to return to the real point: for every CoA clerk in the top 1% at Michigan, 5 lower ranked Michigan students also get a CoA clerkship. .....If someone posted a thread on top-mlb-prospects.com, and if that thread started talking about what batting average a player needs to have a shot in the pros, it would be weird to be like, oh yeah dude GM's look for guys who can hit 340, and while most college coaches won't talk about their players, some will. Instead, it would probably be more useful to indicate that you can make it in the pros if you can hit 280 or higher.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jul 25, 2015 12:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Yes: it is better to be better. For the purposes of line drawing, however, that tells us little.

Maybe it is not because judges cannot differentiate - maybe it is because they do not care - but the fact remains that for every CoA clerk in the top 1% at Michigan, 5 lower ranked Michigan students also get a CoA clerkship.

With that said, it seems wrong to draw a particular focus on the importance of being top 1%.

I don't think this is true, in the sense that if someone wants to consider their chances and where they have a shot and how to apply, it can be useful to know there are judges who treat the top 1% differently from the rest, and therefore tailor your applications/expectations accordingly. Again, no one has said that only HYS + top 1% get COA, so tilting at that windmill doesn't make sense to me.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby pupshaw » Sat Jul 25, 2015 12:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thread provoked curiosity:

I compiled this quick list using what looks to be semi-reliable data. Numerator is number of CoA clerks in a past year taken from Brian Leiter. Denominator is entering class size. Yes, transfers make the class size grow. Yes, one numerator might be off. On the other hand, many people choose not to clerk. Thus, the percentages on the right show a semi-accurate portrait of CoA placement by these "lower T-14" schools.

Duke 15/221 = 6.7%
Northwestern 16/244 = 6.5%
Texas 21/308 = 6.8%
Mich 21/318 = 6.6%
UCLA 18/314 = 5.7%
Virginia 16/366 = 4.3%

I know the initial question here was about the intersection of class rank and journal. I am pushing that question aside to address a different one: what "stats" do you need to clerk on the CoA. These numbers suggest a somewhat different conclusion than the one implied above.


Surely these numbers are for all fed clerks, not just CoA clerks, right?

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:19 pm

pupshaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thread provoked curiosity:

I compiled this quick list using what looks to be semi-reliable data. Numerator is number of CoA clerks in a past year taken from Brian Leiter. Denominator is entering class size. Yes, transfers make the class size grow. Yes, one numerator might be off. On the other hand, many people choose not to clerk. Thus, the percentages on the right show a semi-accurate portrait of CoA placement by these "lower T-14" schools.

Duke 15/221 = 6.7%
Northwestern 16/244 = 6.5%
Texas 21/308 = 6.8%
Mich 21/318 = 6.6%
UCLA 18/314 = 5.7%
Virginia 16/366 = 4.3%

I know the initial question here was about the intersection of class rank and journal. I am pushing that question aside to address a different one: what "stats" do you need to clerk on the CoA. These numbers suggest a somewhat different conclusion than the one implied above.


Surely these numbers are for all fed clerks, not just CoA clerks, right?


CoA alone without including DCt. For example, per 2011 US News, Mich overall fed clerks are 11.1%, UVA 10.8%, Penn 9.9%.

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/c ... clerkships

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:25 pm

I clerk for a d. ct. judge and he does not care whatsoever if someone did journal.

But, like others have mentioned, not doing anything except taking classes doesn't look good.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:47 pm

Also a CoA clerk. I agree with the posters who say that schools have ways of indicating who their very best vs merely great students are. But on the other hand roughly 700 people get to clerk for the Courts of Appeals every year, and chambers would frankly be pretty empty if only top 1%ers were hired. Not being on journal certainly makes it a tougher roe to hoe, but top 5% at a good school really is a great start. What your recommenders say about you (not just who they are, but also what sorts of comparative language they employ), what sort of political affiliations you have (some judges do care about that sort of thing), and what else you do in law school will all matter.

As for waiting a year: I have no idea. It's hard to have a good view of what's going on at a system-wide level. I would advise talking to trusted professors and/or your CSO.

Congrats on escaping a year or two of citation drudgery.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:27 am

rpupkin wrote:Also, if you're at a lower T14 and want a COA clerkship, there's a significant difference between top 1% and top 5%.

Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, I disagree with your point about distinguishing between the top 1% and top 5% at "lower T-14" schools. . . .


The point wasn't that 5%ers don't get hired. It was that judges know who the 1% are and that accordingly there is a material difference in opportunities between the two. The fact that 5%ers get hired, or that some CoA judges don't care about the 1%/5% distinction, does nothing to undermine the point.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby bruinfan10 » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:33 am

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby bloodorangedeer » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:11 pm

Folks, thanks so much for the spirited and insightful discussion. I think the general takeaway is not having LR hurts but isn't necessarily fatal. Likewise, applying strategically to judges will help. A similar sentiment was echoed by career services and my clerkship adviser.

One minor tangent:

If you did none of those things and just studied for class, again, you have hope, but you deserve to get far fewer interviews.


I agree that legal folks think not doing LR, Moot Court, or Clinic means you spent all your time busting your ass in the library just to score a 3.9. I just don't think that assumption is always true. Speaking for myself, I spent the vast majority of my 1L not in the library but pursuing non-academic extra-currics -- I trained for a marathon, scored three films for friends in film school, worked as an adviser for a promising tech start up, volunteered ~15/20 hours a week at a non-profit offering underprivileged kids music lessons. I get that the elite legal world doesn't really care about those things, and maybe it shouldn't. For myself, however, I think having a life outside of the law is a good thing and worth the pursuit. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing. Anyway, thanks everyone!

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:12 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:ljl at the anon fighting with pupkin in this thread. pretty sure that horse has been beaten to death, but yes, anyone who's been involved in CoA clerkship hiring could tell you that the 1%ers stand out.

in answer to the original question, you certainly have hope, but you'll get fewer interviews than 5%ers who were on LR (see, e.g., the 1%er anon who didn't do journal and only landed a "few" CoA interviews--if she'd done a journal, and assuming she applied broadly, she would've had to fend off CoA interviews with a stick). If you did well in moot court though, there are a number of judges who see that as just as good/better experience than a secondary journal and sometimes even LR. Having argued a case for a clinic can also serve you even better than LR (as a side note though, you'd be AMAZED at the number of 5%er students who have done all of those things).

If you did none of those things and just studied for class, again, you have hope, but you deserve to get far fewer interviews--I know a LOT of clerks who would do everything in their power to keep that kind of an app off the desk. Pretty sure all of us who weren't literally #1 in our class could've inched up if we'd ditched LR/moot/clinic and just prepped for those absurd LS exams 14 hours a day. That's not how it works.


Your last paragraph is riddled with assumptions. Or maybe just narrow mindedness. Lots of smart people, with good reason, know LR or moot court are frivolous. At least for them. The vast majority of people aspire to do that shit because they think it helps them on a resume. They are sometimes right. But, deserving interviews based on that experience is another matter. Maybe some people just have their priorities straight? When you turn 26 or whatever, there are so many more productive things to do with your limited time. Blind adherence to how something supposedly works, however, will likely suit you well at x-name, y-name, and z-name.

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Re: No Journal; Top 5% T14; any hope for CoA?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:When you turn 26 or whatever, there are so many more productive things to do with your limited time.

This is dumb. Age has nothing to do with this.




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