Just remember...

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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ExBiglawAssociate
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Just remember...

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:03 pm

It's really hard to picture yourself paying down six figures of debt. You really have to live the experience to know how shitty it is.

Talk to at least one person who has had to go through this before taking on that amount of debt yourself to go to law school.

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Just remember...

Postby thatsnotmyname » Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:42 pm

0L here. Curious as to knowing what you think is the maximum amount of debt anyone should be willing to take out for law school and what the lowest ranked school one should be willing to attend if biglaw is the hope? It's really difficult to find the right balancing act between debt and employment prospects.

Edit: Also mind sharing what your debt load was when you graduated and how long it has taken you to pay it off? Do you remember how much of the loan was principal and how much interest you incurred by the time you graduated?

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fats provolone
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Re: Just remember...

Postby fats provolone » Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:47 pm

imo, keep it well under six figures and pay it off (still not fun, but doable) or just resign yourself to PAYE wage-slavery and a lifetime of ballooning debt that you pretend doesn't exist

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Just remember...

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:07 pm

thatsnotmyname wrote:0L here. Curious as to knowing what you think is the maximum amount of debt anyone should be willing to take out for law school and what the lowest ranked school one should be willing to attend if biglaw is the hope? It's really difficult to find the right balancing act between debt and employment prospects.

Edit: Also mind sharing what your debt load was when you graduated and how long it has taken you to pay it off? Do you remember how much of the loan was principal and how much interest you incurred by the time you graduated?


Knowing what I know now, I would only pay full price at Harvard, Yale or Stanford. I would pay half price for Columbia, NYU and Chicago. I probably wouldn't go to law school if I couldn't get into any of the aforementioned schools.

I attended a lower T14 and saw many of my classmates struggle (and many are continuing to struggle) during the great recession. I had top grades, so I was able to make it out okay. But I got lucky. My grades were not due to me working hard or being smarter. I just got lucky. I got good advice from the right people at the right time and was able to use that to my advantage come exam time.

I had over 150k in debt (and that's with a decent-sized scholarship from my T14) when I graduated. I can't remember, but I think the principle was 125k or something like that. My spouse and I worked our asses off and finally broke into positive net worth a few weeks ago. I am now a midlevel, by the way, so it's taken well over three years to get to where I am (with two incomes and no debt from my spouse).

That's 6-8 years of my life to get back to where I was financially right before law school. And I think I have one of the better situations. I know folks with 250k+ of debt and no spouse to help. They may not break even for another decade or more--possibly 15 years after they started law school.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Just remember...

Postby JohannDeMann » Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:16 pm

paying back the debt isnt the mistake people make going to law school. its becoming a lawyer. im at about a 100:1 ratio of time spent hating being a lawyer to time spent worrying about my debt and i have about max debt anyone can have.
the analysis shouldnt be dont go to law school if you dont get into a godo school - its dont go to law school unless you have absolutely 0 career moves you can make at all.
hell the best reason to go to law school is to use the 3 years of loans as a COL work free cop out.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Just remember...

Postby JohannDeMann » Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:21 pm

thatsnotmyname wrote:0L here. Curious as to knowing what you think is the maximum amount of debt anyone should be willing to take out for law school and what the lowest ranked school one should be willing to attend if biglaw is the hope? It's really difficult to find the right balancing act between debt and employment prospects.

Edit: Also mind sharing what your debt load was when you graduated and how long it has taken you to pay it off? Do you remember how much of the loan was principal and how much interest you incurred by the time you graduated?


theres another thread on debt repayment and finance - search for it . if you can get into a T14 you should think long aand hard about why you are bright enough to be a top law school candidate but cant find a better way to make a comfortable living in todays economy. there are certain candidates who should def go to T14 but if you have a good gpa in science, math, finance, economics, etc from a good university with alumni, law school is a losing game prolly. if you graduated from western illinois with a 2.7 in political science and can get a decent score on the lsat and want to enjoy 3 years before the inevtiable misery of adulthood, go to law school.

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bearsfan23
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Re: Just remember...

Postby bearsfan23 » Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:23 am

So Harvard is worth full cost, but Chicago and Columbia are only worth half cost, even though all 3 have almost identical employment outcomes? Yeah okay dude.

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twenty
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Re: Just remember...

Postby twenty » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:17 am

Probably going to alienate a lot of people here, but fuck it.

If you hate being an attorney, stop being an attorney. "That's easy to say, but three years of lost time in law school + tons of student loan debt!"

On the former: First, you're throwing good time after bad. Even if law school was an awful experience and you wish you could undo it, being miserable as an attorney only puts you back further. Second, people keep saying that a JD isn't portable outside law, but this is almost absolutely (1) bullshit, and (2) weirdly myopic for a group of people that value risk aversion so much. I'm sure there are anecdotes of people who sat in interviews where some shitty future boss told them that they'd be more willing to hire a bright-eyed 22 year old college senior than a crusty old JD graduate, but also, lol, since apparently some TTT grads get federal clerkships too. Yeah, having three years of work experience in lieu of a JD is definitely better, but if you went to law school, you probably don't have that option now. Maybe if you go into welding or become a concert pianist your JD truly has zero value, but my guess is most of the alternative employers that kids seriously considering law school would be interested in would attach at least some value to a JD. Or maybe that's bullshit and JDs are worthless and employers universally hate them. At that point, revert to the first response, leave it off your resume, and get the fuck over it.

On the latter: PAYE (which most of you are already doing), and PSLF motherfuckers. If it's going to take you 8 years to pay back your student loans, you're working 60 hours a week, you're absolutely miserable, etc., why not cut your payments down to 10%-15% of your income that goes away in 10 years with no tax bomb? Yeah, you make less money being a government schmuck or some minimally-paid non-profit employee, but you also pay way less on your loans, you work 35-40 hour weeks, and (in government at least) unless you're a complete piece of shit, you probably won't lose your job. I mean, do the math - if your 10-year average salary in some PSLF-eligible gig is $80k/year and you can't use your school's LRAP to cover any of it as a "JD advantage" job, you've still only paid 62k (PAYE) on your loans and there's no tax bomb. That's less than your fucking cost of living during the three years you were in law school. You might have even made money on this deal.

preemptions:

1) lol being a lawyer isn't that bad.
Being a slug in some county water district office is probably the most relaxing and enjoyable job there is if everything you hate about being an attorney is deadlines and no free time. If that sounds worse than whatever you're doing right now, then being an attorney must be pretty awesome.

2) what else am i gunna doooo
join the fucking Al-Qaeda as long as you get over yourself.

3) dere gonna get rid of pslf doe
Whereas at which point, you're still going to be paying much less than sticker price on your loans, and over the course of 20 years rather than 6-9, and that's also assuming no one gets rid of the tax bomb before then. If we were imaginative, we probably wouldn't have considered law school, etc. etc., but you have to be pretty dumb if you're not able to plan for a tax bomb you know is coming 20 years from now.

4) all my loans are private
Obviously the only answer then is to kill yourself. Alternatively, kill whoever told you to refinance into private loans and then kill yourself. It's probably easier to bankrupt out of private student loans than federal ones, so maybe do that - I know fuck all about discharging private student loans.

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twenty
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Re: Just remember...

Postby twenty » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:21 am

that post isn't necessarily directed at anyone in this thread, since you guys in particular are pretty good about not whining.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Just remember...

Postby JohannDeMann » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:33 am

I'm not whining. My job now is fine. Out of 4 legal jobs I've had - 1 was great 1 was okay and 2 have been miserable. But I'm content with my choices because I graduated with a 2.4 and had 0 career prospects graduating undergrad in the recession. I'm just telling people to actually think about being a lawyer before going to law school. It's not all bad but for someone with a world of options, it wouldn't be my first choice.

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Just remember...

Postby Mal Reynolds » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:52 am

twenty wrote:Probably going to alienate a lot of people here, but fuck it.

If you hate being an attorney, stop being an attorney. "That's easy to say, but three years of lost time in law school + tons of student loan debt!"

On the former: First, you're throwing good time after bad. Even if law school was an awful experience and you wish you could undo it, being miserable as an attorney only puts you back further. Second, people keep saying that a JD isn't portable outside law, but this is almost absolutely (1) bullshit, and (2) weirdly myopic for a group of people that value risk aversion so much. I'm sure there are anecdotes of people who sat in interviews where some shitty future boss told them that they'd be more willing to hire a bright-eyed 22 year old college senior than a crusty old JD graduate, but also, lol, since apparently some TTT grads get federal clerkships too. Yeah, having three years of work experience in lieu of a JD is definitely better, but if you went to law school, you probably don't have that option now. Maybe if you go into welding or become a concert pianist your JD truly has zero value, but my guess is most of the alternative employers that kids seriously considering law school would be interested in would attach at least some value to a JD. Or maybe that's bullshit and JDs are worthless and employers universally hate them. At that point, revert to the first response, leave it off your resume, and get the fuck over it.

On the latter: PAYE (which most of you are already doing), and PSLF motherfuckers. If it's going to take you 8 years to pay back your student loans, you're working 60 hours a week, you're absolutely miserable, etc., why not cut your payments down to 10%-15% of your income that goes away in 10 years with no tax bomb? Yeah, you make less money being a government schmuck or some minimally-paid non-profit employee, but you also pay way less on your loans, you work 35-40 hour weeks, and (in government at least) unless you're a complete piece of shit, you probably won't lose your job. I mean, do the math - if your 10-year average salary in some PSLF-eligible gig is $80k/year and you can't use your school's LRAP to cover any of it as a "JD advantage" job, you've still only paid 62k (PAYE) on your loans and there's no tax bomb. That's less than your fucking cost of living during the three years you were in law school. You might have even made money on this deal.

preemptions:

1) lol being a lawyer isn't that bad.
Being a slug in some county water district office is probably the most relaxing and enjoyable job there is if everything you hate about being an attorney is deadlines and no free time. If that sounds worse than whatever you're doing right now, then being an attorney must be pretty awesome.

2) what else am i gunna doooo
join the fucking Al-Qaeda as long as you get over yourself.

3) dere gonna get rid of pslf doe
Whereas at which point, you're still going to be paying much less than sticker price on your loans, and over the course of 20 years rather than 6-9, and that's also assuming no one gets rid of the tax bomb before then. If we were imaginative, we probably wouldn't have considered law school, etc. etc., but you have to be pretty dumb if you're not able to plan for a tax bomb you know is coming 20 years from now.

4) all my loans are private
Obviously the only answer then is to kill yourself. Alternatively, kill whoever told you to refinance into private loans and then kill yourself. It's probably easier to bankrupt out of private student loans than federal ones, so maybe do that - I know fuck all about discharging private student loans.


(Second semester 1L)

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Just remember...

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:19 pm

bearsfan23 wrote:So Harvard is worth full cost, but Chicago and Columbia are only worth half cost, even though all 3 have almost identical employment outcomes? Yeah okay dude.


They don't have identical employment outcomes, not even close. In any event, it's my personal preference and others will obviously disagree.

If you're talking about biglaw, then yeah. These schools all give you a great shot at biglaw. But biglaw is a stupid goal, IMO. You're paying 300k for a chance to maybe break even before you leave biglaw and thereafter make a salary you could have made without a law degree.

HYS gives you a much better shot at actually doing something cool, like clerking, BIGFED, teaching, etc.
Last edited by ExBiglawAssociate on Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Just remember...

Postby prezidentv8 » Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:22 pm

Mal Reynolds wrote:
twenty wrote:lengthy screed


(Second semester 1L)


haha

Cogburn87
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Re: Just remember...

Postby Cogburn87 » Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:18 pm

twenty wrote:On the latter: PAYE (which most of you are already doing), and PSLF motherfuckers. If it's going to take you 8 years to pay back your student loans, you're working 60 hours a week, you're absolutely miserable, etc., why not cut your payments down to 10%-15% of your income that goes away in 10 years with no tax bomb? Yeah, you make less money being a government schmuck or some minimally-paid non-profit employee, but you also pay way less on your loans, you work 35-40 hour weeks, and (in government at least) unless you're a complete piece of shit, you probably won't lose your job. I mean, do the math - if your 10-year average salary in some PSLF-eligible gig is $80k/year and you can't use your school's LRAP to cover any of it as a "JD advantage" job, you've still only paid 62k (PAYE) on your loans and there's no tax bomb. That's less than your fucking cost of living during the three years you were in law school. You might have even made money on this deal.


rofl. thank you for this.

suppy183
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Re: Just remember...

Postby suppy183 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:00 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:I'm not whining. My job now is fine. Out of 4 legal jobs I've had - 1 was great 1 was okay and 2 have been miserable. But I'm content with my choices because I graduated with a 2.4 and had 0 career prospects graduating undergrad in the recession. I'm just telling people to actually think about being a lawyer before going to law school. It's not all bad but for someone with a world of options, it wouldn't be my first choice.


Can you be more specific about what you dislike about it? Do you think law is universally shitty or are there certain types of people for whom that wouldn't be the case?

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prezidentv8
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Re: Just remember...

Postby prezidentv8 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:16 pm

suppy183 wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:I'm not whining. My job now is fine. Out of 4 legal jobs I've had - 1 was great 1 was okay and 2 have been miserable. But I'm content with my choices because I graduated with a 2.4 and had 0 career prospects graduating undergrad in the recession. I'm just telling people to actually think about being a lawyer before going to law school. It's not all bad but for someone with a world of options, it wouldn't be my first choice.


Can you be more specific about what you dislike about it? Do you think law is universally shitty or are there certain types of people for whom that wouldn't be the case?


The anal retentive ones who enjoy arguing with their baristas about water:espresso ratios or something like that.

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pamphleteer
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Re: Just remember...

Postby pamphleteer » Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:34 am

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:HYS gives you a much better shot at actually doing something cool, like clerking, BIGFED, teaching, etc.


Naive 0L here. How realistic is it to lateral from Biglaw into something cool like Bigfed? I was under the impression those jobs were very difficult to get straight out of law school anyway?

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Just remember...

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:40 pm

pamphleteer wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:HYS gives you a much better shot at actually doing something cool, like clerking, BIGFED, teaching, etc.


Naive 0L here. How realistic is it to lateral from Biglaw into something cool like Bigfed? I was under the impression those jobs were very difficult to get straight out of law school anyway?


It's impossible to know how many biglaw associates try to get BIGFED and fail, but I can say that it happens very infrequently. My impression is that you've got to have a well-developed, realistic plan for how to get BIGFED from biglaw. For example, you know partner X who used to work at agency Y and is willing to put in a good word for you. Or you know associate Z who left to work at agency Y and is willing to make sure your application gets in the right pile. Even with a great plan, I'm sure a lot of people try and fail.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Just remember...

Postby JohannDeMann » Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:57 pm

suppy183 wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:I'm not whining. My job now is fine. Out of 4 legal jobs I've had - 1 was great 1 was okay and 2 have been miserable. But I'm content with my choices because I graduated with a 2.4 and had 0 career prospects graduating undergrad in the recession. I'm just telling people to actually think about being a lawyer before going to law school. It's not all bad but for someone with a world of options, it wouldn't be my first choice.


Can you be more specific about what you dislike about it? Do you think law is universally shitty or are there certain types of people for whom that wouldn't be the case?


I don't think law is universally shitty. A lot of your job depends on who you work with. The two jobs I hated were small potatoes litigation like shitty PI cases. One lawyer I worked with had legit anger management issues he saw a shrink for. The dude would blow up for really minor shit. So I mean that sucked because I was working with a nutjob. The work was kinda boring because its the same thing every time person slipped and fell complaint cut and paste jobs. Other shitty job the guy was not mean and wouldn't yell and he was kinda nice but I had to drive for court calls a lot so I spent a lot of time commuting. The work was also monotonous cut and paste stuff and I didn't feel like I was really learning any new strategy. Though I was in court at least 3 days a week so that was alright, but for really lame things like statuses or basic motion practice. Also, lots of discovery in both of those jobs which was not fun for me.
The best job I had was working for a solo who had pretty sophisticated work. He was a healthcare attorney, so it encompassed a lot of transactional stuff as well as some litigation. He was really old and kind of mailing it in so he gave me lots of responsibility. I had unlimited client contact. I could develop case strategy (and he'd let me know if it was dumb). Lots of research and writing, which I'm weird about and like. And very little BS work. Like instead of summarizing everything in a memo, I could just highlight relevant sections of case law or statutes. Wrote an appellate brief that went up to the 7th circuit. Got to negotiate a couple settlements (for very small money but still). We were also decent at what we did and helped clients which they were really appreciative for. even after I left him, a couple clients reached out to let me know they wanted to pay me to continue working on their case with my boss, so essentially they were gonna pay for 1.5 lawyers. I think I liked it because I was managing myself, doing substantive work, developing skills, and actually accomplishing results for clients.


I don't really think there is a personality for biglaw other than workaholic. Outside of that, jobs def have a more personal fit but it would be too generic to try to speak to them. It depends a lot on the firms structure (solo/small firm or midsize firm) who you get your work from and interact with and what your specific role in the firm is (whether you do court calls, fill out discovery, call other lawyers to negotiate, call other lawyers to tell them they are late, draft motions, call clients, initiate marketing ideas, give talks at the local bar to lure clients) etc.

While law is not universally shitty - I think its 99% guaranteed you are going to have to go through some shitty jobs to figure out what you like or get to do what you more or less are alright doing.

suppy183
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Re: Just remember...

Postby suppy183 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:54 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:
suppy183 wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:I'm not whining. My job now is fine. Out of 4 legal jobs I've had - 1 was great 1 was okay and 2 have been miserable. But I'm content with my choices because I graduated with a 2.4 and had 0 career prospects graduating undergrad in the recession. I'm just telling people to actually think about being a lawyer before going to law school. It's not all bad but for someone with a world of options, it wouldn't be my first choice.


Can you be more specific about what you dislike about it? Do you think law is universally shitty or are there certain types of people for whom that wouldn't be the case?


I don't think law is universally shitty. A lot of your job depends on who you work with. The two jobs I hated were small potatoes litigation like shitty PI cases. One lawyer I worked with had legit anger management issues he saw a shrink for. The dude would blow up for really minor shit. So I mean that sucked because I was working with a nutjob. The work was kinda boring because its the same thing every time person slipped and fell complaint cut and paste jobs. Other shitty job the guy was not mean and wouldn't yell and he was kinda nice but I had to drive for court calls a lot so I spent a lot of time commuting. The work was also monotonous cut and paste stuff and I didn't feel like I was really learning any new strategy. Though I was in court at least 3 days a week so that was alright, but for really lame things like statuses or basic motion practice. Also, lots of discovery in both of those jobs which was not fun for me.
The best job I had was working for a solo who had pretty sophisticated work. He was a healthcare attorney, so it encompassed a lot of transactional stuff as well as some litigation. He was really old and kind of mailing it in so he gave me lots of responsibility. I had unlimited client contact. I could develop case strategy (and he'd let me know if it was dumb). Lots of research and writing, which I'm weird about and like. And very little BS work. Like instead of summarizing everything in a memo, I could just highlight relevant sections of case law or statutes. Wrote an appellate brief that went up to the 7th circuit. Got to negotiate a couple settlements (for very small money but still). We were also decent at what we did and helped clients which they were really appreciative for. even after I left him, a couple clients reached out to let me know they wanted to pay me to continue working on their case with my boss, so essentially they were gonna pay for 1.5 lawyers. I think I liked it because I was managing myself, doing substantive work, developing skills, and actually accomplishing results for clients.


I don't really think there is a personality for biglaw other than workaholic. Outside of that, jobs def have a more personal fit but it would be too generic to try to speak to them. It depends a lot on the firms structure (solo/small firm or midsize firm) who you get your work from and interact with and what your specific role in the firm is (whether you do court calls, fill out discovery, call other lawyers to negotiate, call other lawyers to tell them they are late, draft motions, call clients, initiate marketing ideas, give talks at the local bar to lure clients) etc.

While law is not universally shitty - I think its 99% guaranteed you are going to have to go through some shitty jobs to figure out what you like or get to do what you more or less are alright doing.


Thanks for the response. Short-term shittiness is okay, as long as there's something reasonably engaging and sustainable afterwards.




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