2.97/168, strong soft factors

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Zincfinger
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2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Zincfinger » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:46 pm

A bit of elaboration on my background before I get to my specific questions. My official transcript UGPA (B.S. in Biochemistry from a strong school) is about a 3.2 with a significant upward trend. Nevertheless, my official LSAC UGPA is 2.97. There are a few factors that should mitigate this somewhat. i) Time. I received my Bachelor's degree just under 14 years ago. ii) Since then, I've obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry, and had a really strong track record in graduate school. I'm aware grad school GPA's don't really count (as is fair, in my opinion), but I have a fairly impressive publication list in high-end scientific journals, and I'm pretty confident that the reference letter from my Ph.D. advisor says something to the effect that I'm the strongest graduate student he's seen. iii) Work experience. After obtaining my Ph.D., I did some post-doctoral research, and then worked in industry as a Sr. Research Biochemist at a couple of companies. I also started my own company, although that ultimately didn't work out (yet).

As far as law schools, I'm geographically restricted to the greater Detroit metro area, which means UM, one tier 3 (Wayne State) and two tier 4's (Detroit U, and Thomas Cooley). I've applied to all four of these, for fall 2010 admission. On to my questions.

1) I'm pretty well aware that my UGPA alone puts my chances at UM somewhere between slim and none. My question is, do you think it's "slim", or do you think it's "none"? One other negative factor here: mine was either the last application, or close to it, received by UM for this cycle. I sent it in after the official deadline, after calling them to see if that was ok, and they said they were confident they'd be able to fit it in and give it full consideration. Still, I'm at the tail end there.

2) I would assume that my LSAT alone (168) pretty well makes me an auto-admit for the tier 3/4's. While, all other things being equal, I'd obviously prefer Wayne State among those three, financial aid will be a significant factor in my decision. Do you think a full ride, or close to it, is likely-to-certain for any or all of those three lower tier schools, given my credentials?

3) Given my background, do you think that if I went to Wayne State for a year (or two) and ranked at the top of my class, that I would be a strong candidate for transfer admission to UM? Or for that matter, given that I have a Ph.D. in chemistry and intend to pursue patent law, do you think the ranking of my J.D. granting institution is even particularly important to my ultimate job prospects? Is a J.D. from a decent tier 3 perfectly adequate to make me highly competitive as a newly-minted patent attorney since I have the Ph.D.?

4) Given my relatively weak UGPA but also my strong softs, do you think an LSAT in the range of, say, 175, would make me an above-average candidate for UM? The reason I ask is, I'm fairly confident I could do that, as the 168 was essentially off-the-cuff (i.e. the actual exam was the first and only full-length, timed-exam I've taken). My initial inclination is not to go this route, but I'm reasonably confident that with a couple months of intensive prep work, I could put myself in the mid-170 range. Worth it?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

goingtolawschool
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby goingtolawschool » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:21 pm

1. I encourage you to apply to WUSTL- a fantastic school that loves splitters. Given yor background, I'd also through an ap-plication to Northwestern
2. I am sure you could get into most schools in the T20-30, so please forget about TTT.
3. Are you interested in applying to law school for Fall 2010? If so, you are applying very late in the cycle and I would strongly advise you to wait a year.
4. It would be difficult to get into Michigan with a 175 given your GPA. If you get anything above 170 and apply early in the cycle to Northwestern, you'll certainlty get in. If you are hung up on Michigan, the second option you suggested (transferring), however, is a good one. You can transfer only at the end of your first year in law school and when you apply as a transfer student, the only thing schools will look at is your 1L grades, so your UPGP/LSAT will make no difference,

Zincfinger
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Zincfinger » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:50 pm

goingtolawschool wrote:1. I encourage you to apply to WUSTL- a fantastic school that loves splitters. Given yor background, I'd also through an ap-plication to Northwestern
I would, and in fact I used to live and work in St. Louis, but as I said, I'm currently geographically limited to the Detroit metro area, so the schools I listed are the only possible options for me.

goingtolawschool wrote:2. I am sure you could get into most schools in the T20-30, so please forget about TTT.

I understand and appreciate your point, but for the reason mentioned above, I can't do that. No school outside the Detroit metro area is an option for me.

goingtolawschool wrote:3. Are you interested in applying to law school for Fall 2010? If so, you are applying very late in the cycle and I would strongly advise you to wait a year.
Yes I am, and as I indicated, I've already put in my applications. At this point, I'm not waiting another year, unless I'm completely shocked by my feedback from admissions staff. Maybe waiting a year and improving my LSAT score would make a difference for UM (although according to your views, it probably would not), but I'm confident I'm in at my only other alternatives regardless.

goingtolawschool wrote:4. It would be difficult to get into Michigan with a 175 given your GPA. If you get anything above 170 and apply early in the cycle to Northwestern, you'll certainlty get in. If you are hung up on Michigan, the second option you suggested (transferring), however, is a good one. You can transfer only at the end of your first year in law school and when you apply as a transfer student, the only thing schools will look at is your 1L grades, so your UPGP/LSAT will make no difference,
I'm not "hung up on Michigan" in any emotional sense, it's merely that SE Michigan schools are my only option, due to personal/family circumstances. I flat-out cannot go to Northwestern, or anywhere outside the Detroit metro radius. I'm encouraged by what you say about transferring, as I'm confident that my 1L grades will be very strong. In general, it sounds as if you think my softs are of minimal importance, and are completely overshadowed by my UGPA. Is that a fair characterization?

goingtolawschool
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby goingtolawschool » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:48 pm

Yes.

Coming from a T4, you'll need to be top 1-2% in your class to get into Michigan. Good luck. (I was also confident that my 1L grades would be very high. I was wrong. Then again I attend a T10. Either way, never count on finishing up in the top 1% of your class, no matter how shitty your school is, and it is pretty shitty).

Zincfinger
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Zincfinger » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:04 pm

goingtolawschool wrote:Yes.

Coming from a T4, you'll need to be top 1-2% in your class to get into Michigan. Good luck. (I was also confident that my 1L grades would be very high. I was wrong. Then again I attend a T10. Either way, never count on finishing up in the top 1% of your class, no matter how shitty your school is, and it is pretty shitty).

You didn't really answer any of my questions, but I'm going to try to infer your answers insofar as that's remotely possible. In terms of my current ability to get into UM, I gather you would rate that "none" rather than "slim". You appear to have no opinion as to my likelihood of financial aid at T3/T4 programs. I think you believe that if I'm in the top 1% of my class at a tier 3 law school, I'll have a decent chance at transferring to UM, although this is hard to say, as you seemed to be primarily focused on warning me that I well may not achieve that. From your previous answer, you seem to think an improved LSAT score would make no meaningful difference. Are these inferences accurate?

goingtolawschool
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby goingtolawschool » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:35 pm

Not sure why you think I'll volunteer you further advice with that attitude or why you think I am obliged to address all of your concerns. Good luck to you. On a different note, given your inability to comprehend simple sentences, I have a hard time believing you'll get a higher score on the LSAT or that you'll perform well in your 1L classes, so enjoy Detroit.

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autarkh
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby autarkh » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:47 pm

Zinc,

UM has been behaving very strangely lately. From your description, you've certainly got "Zing," which might land you a waitlist. If that happens, retake the LSAT in June, lock in that 175, and send an addendum. Who knows what will happen?

the_assassin
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby the_assassin » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:11 am

You didn't really answer any of my questions, but I'm going to try to infer your answers insofar as that's remotely possible. In terms of my current ability to get into UM, I gather you would rate that "none" rather than "slim". You appear to have no opinion as to my likelihood of financial aid at T3/T4 programs. I think you believe that if I'm in the top 1% of my class at a tier 3 law school, I'll have a decent chance at transferring to UM, although this is hard to say, as you seemed to be primarily focused on warning me that I well may not achieve that. From your previous answer, you seem to think an improved LSAT score would make no meaningful difference. Are these inferences accurate?


Nothing outside the top 5% will allow you to transfer.

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whitman
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby whitman » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:52 am

Zincfinger wrote:
goingtolawschool wrote:Yes.

Coming from a T4, you'll need to be top 1-2% in your class to get into Michigan
. Good luck. (I was also confident that my 1L grades would be very high. I was wrong. Then again I attend a T10. Either way, never count on finishing up in the top 1% of your class, no matter how shitty your school is, and it is pretty shitty).

You didn't really answer any of my questions, but I'm going to try to infer your answers insofar as that's remotely possible. In terms of my current ability to get into UM, I gather you would rate that "none" rather than "slim". You appear to have no opinion as to my likelihood of financial aid at T3/T4 programs. I think you believe that if I'm in the top 1% of my class at a tier 3 law school, I'll have a decent chance at transferring to UM, although this is hard to say, as you seemed to be primarily focused on warning me that I well may not achieve that. From your previous answer, you seem to think an improved LSAT score would make no meaningful difference. Are these inferences accurate?


Zincfinger, pull your panties loose, crack a beer, and stop acting like a douche. He clearly answered several of your questions. Just look at those two bolded statements. A 2.97 is pretty fucking bad and a 168 does not cover that. You are very unlikely to get into Michigan. Of course it is not "none." Do you really think we can tell you you have 0% odds? We're not clairvoyant here and anyone with greater than average softs and a 168 has some chance. Those other schools are terrible. He emphasized other options because - and this is ironic - he was thinking about your position and encouraging you to look out for yourself. The chasm between Michigan and those others is gigantic. Never go to school banking on transferring, especially if you have only one place you'd consider transferring and are trying to transfer from a very low ranked school. Good luck.

Aqualibrium
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Aqualibrium » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:06 am

One thing no one hear has mentioned is that the weight placed on your ugpa decreases with the time/distance/professional success/etc... you put between yourself and it. 14 years + a PHD+ Published work probably equals more than a little cushion in the gpa department.

There are probably a few t20's and 30's that would give you a shot; Unfortunately you're stuck in Michigan. I guess the only thing I can say is don't forget about MSU....you'll most likely get a full ride there.

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Kilpatrick
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Kilpatrick » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:08 am

I think the better question to be asking is - why do you want to go to law school when you've got a PHD in chemistry and you can't leave Detroit?

reverendt
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby reverendt » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:12 am

OP....I was in a very similar situation but with a 164. I wrote a nice addendum for the grades and got in across all of T2 and waitlisted/rejected at BC. Seems like they pretty much ignored my old grades and focused on my LSAT.
They'll probably do the same for you...the grades won't hurt you or help you.
Good Luck!

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bees
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby bees » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:18 am

It might be worth a shot to retake, get a 175+, and apply ED next year to UM.

LSN shows a few people with 170+/3.0 getting into UM over the last few years (not including URMs).

One was ED, one served in the military, and one got a 180. A sub-3 GPA might kill your chances but I do think that would be your best shot.

Also be sure to visit the school and write a nice "Why Michigan" essay.

Oh and make sure zing is apparent throughout your entire application. :)

EDIT: as for transferring, there is a thread floating around here somewhere that talks about UM only taking T3 (maybe T4, but I dunno) transfers if they are from in state - so you would have that going for you as well - but seriously, you would have to place in the top 5% if not better

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Grizz
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Grizz » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:32 am

bees wrote:but seriously, you would have to place in the top 5% if not better


Don't count on it.

Don't go to any school you wouldn't be happy to attend for all three years.

Zatarra
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Zatarra » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:55 am

A few things to consider that might make a huge difference:

1. Where did you get your Ph.D, and precisely what have you done with it? If you obtained your Ph.D from a top program, and/or enjoyed significant success in the Biochem field, then your UGPA will likely be far less important than for most applicants. That said, your GPA is still a weakness, so an improvement into the 170s on your LSAT would absolutely help for top schools.

2. Why do you want to go to law school? If you're looking to simply supplement your work in Biochem with a bit of legal know how, then those bottom tier schools would likely be sufficient. If, however, you intend to really pursue a serious legal career, you may find your post-grad prospects disappointing. I would, at the very least, put a concerted effort into the LSAT. If you really scored 168 essentially 'cold' there is no reason you shouldn't expect to score in the mid to upper 170s with an excellent study regimen -- the the pay off would be considerable (estimated salary and job prospects out of a top tier school would almost certainly far outstrip anything from a bottom rank school, thus making an additional year of study a potentially lucrative investment). Certainly personal factors might make moving out of Detroit a non-option, but do consider the effect a better school might have on future prospects.

Again, you are certainly a non-traditional applicant, so what you want of the law school experience may differ significantly from the majority of us on TLS.

Good luck!

Zincfinger
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Zincfinger » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:38 pm

I think the better question to be asking is - why do you want to go to law school when you've got a PHD in chemistry and you can't leave Detroit?
There are several reasons, one of which is of the "that question answers itself" variety. Specifically, if you think the law school offerings in SE Michigan are meager, take a look at the biological chemistry research options. My Ph.D. is in chemistry, my research background is in enzymology, protein chemistry, and biophysical chemistry. To say there isn't much of that going on in the Detroit area would be a substantial understatement.

More generally, industrial scientific research has its pros and its cons. One of the cons is that you're heavily involved in day-to-day tactics, but usually have limited involvement in overall strategy. I like having a role in long-term strategic decisions. Which brings me to the third point. I intend to pursue patent law, precisely because of my technical background, and the nexus of technical issues, legal issues, and business strategy which IP law entails. And just as importantly, a scientific Ph.D. is not a throwaway for a patent attorney, it's a significant bonus.

I guess the only thing I can say is don't forget about MSU....you'll most likely get a full ride there.
I was surprised to discover that MSU law school is tier 3 by every ranking system I've looked at. It really wouldn't be an option for me regardless since it would involve roughly a 2 hour commute each way (more with rush hour traffic), but I would generally expect a major university like that to be at least tier 2. In actual fact, going solely by the academic rankings, MSU law school isn't distinguishably better than Wayne State law, and you can make a reasonable case that it's weaker (due to bar exam pass rates being significantly lower). Yes, it's got the national name recognition advantage, but that alone doesn't remotely justify an extra 3 hours in the car every day, at least for me.

Zincfinger...stop acting like a douche...Those other schools are terrible...The chasm between Michigan and those others is gigantic.
I'm aware there's a very large difference between the utility of a UM law degree and the utility of a Wayne State law degree, especially when you get outside the region. Pretty much everyone, whether they've looked into law school or not, is aware of that, and it's only because I'm aware of that that I would consider spending an extra 2 hours in the car every day and an extra ~150 grand, if I get extremely lucky. And I'm aware that my second response to goingtolawschool was a little heavy-handed, but I didn't especially appreciate his apparent need to emphasize the degree of contempt in which he holds my most likely option (I was basically inured to it by the time you broke out more of the same). A little thin-skinned? Perhaps. But, while a bit heavy-handed, I think my point was actually correct.

Along those lines, I do want to re-ask this question, as it is of some significance to me. Do you folks think that a full-ride to a tier 3 (which, barring a successful hail mary is pretty much my only option) is, for me, somewhat likely, highly likely, a virtual certainty? I've been assuming somewhere between the second and third of those options, but my knowledge of this is middling at best. And I'm aware this is top-law-schools.com and Wayne State U. is pretty damn far from a top law school, but some of you likely have a firmer idea of this than I do.

OP....I was in a very similar situation but with a 164. I wrote a nice addendum for the grades and got in across all of T2 and waitlisted/rejected at BC. Seems like they pretty much ignored my old grades and focused on my LSAT.
They'll probably do the same for you...the grades won't hurt you or help you.
I'd like to believe that, because my UGPA is my one blatant negative, but I have a hard time believing it will be completely ignored. Were you similar across the board, Ph.D., work experience, and all? I've seen a lot of people talk about writing an addendum for weak UG grades, but when the true reason is the fairly common, "I didn't have my priorities straight when I was 18-20", is writing an addendum really useful there?

reverendt
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby reverendt » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:03 pm

Zincfinger wrote:
OP....I was in a very similar situation but with a 164. I wrote a nice addendum for the grades and got in across all of T2 and waitlisted/rejected at BC. Seems like they pretty much ignored my old grades and focused on my LSAT.
They'll probably do the same for you...the grades won't hurt you or help you.
I'd like to believe that, because my UGPA is my one blatant negative, but I have a hard time believing it will be completely ignored. Were you similar across the board, Ph.D., work experience, and all? I've seen a lot of people talk about writing an addendum for weak UG grades, but when the true reason is the fairly common, "I didn't have my priorities straight when I was 18-20", is writing an addendum really useful there?


I had flunked out of college at 20 for no good reason. Embarked on a respectable career by 22, and went back to college at about 30, first at night, and then full time when my company moved away (and I stayed behind). Got all As the second time around, but still wound up with an LSAC gpa of 2.74.
I wrote an addendum basically stating that it was a mistake for me to go straight to college after high school because I wasn't ready to handle a rigorous academic program. I pointed out the changes in my life since then (marriage, home-ownership, career) and pointed to my more recent grades, all of which were excellent,. I believe I said "my grades from 14 years ago illustrate the student that I was; those from recent years illustrate the student that I am.
It worked. I got $$ from across T2. My personal situation limited the schools I could apply to, but I probably would have been good up to the top 30 or so at least.
With a 168 and a fairly comparable (academically more impressive) story you should be ok up to top 20-25, and maybe up to t14. You may even have a shot at the lower top 14 (you sound like somebody Northwestern would like). Michigan might be tough, but I'd still apply. Write an addendum. Don't make excuses. Keep it short, and just tell them how it was, and how it is. Your accomplishments will support you.
Good luck!

Zincfinger
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby Zincfinger » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:31 pm

I had flunked out of college at 20 for no good reason. Embarked on a respectable career by 22, and went back to college at about 30, first at night, and then full time when my company moved away (and I stayed behind). Got all As the second time around, but still wound up with an LSAC gpa of 2.74.
I wrote an addendum basically stating that it was a mistake for me to go straight to college after high school because I wasn't ready to handle a rigorous academic program. I pointed out the changes in my life since then (marriage, home-ownership, career) and pointed to my more recent grades, all of which were excellent,. I believe I said "my grades from 14 years ago illustrate the student that I was; those from recent years illustrate the student that I am.
It worked. I got $$ from across T2. My personal situation limited the schools I could apply to, but I probably would have been good up to the top 30 or so at least.
With a 168 and a fairly comparable (academically more impressive) story you should be ok up to top 20-25, and maybe up to t14. You may even have a shot at the lower top 14 (you sound like somebody Northwestern would like). Michigan might be tough, but I'd still apply. Write an addendum. Don't make excuses. Keep it short, and just tell them how it was, and how it is. Your accomplishments will support you. Good luck!
I appreciate the encouragement. And believe me, if my personal situation allowed for it, I would be applying to those very-strong-but-not-quite-elite law schools that my credentials are a better fit for. But as it stands, my only options are a substantial reach (UM, to which I've already applied - and perhaps it would be worthwhile to do a couple more of the optional essays), or a much low-tiered regional school. I dearly wish there were a solid tier 1 within commuting distance, but there simply isn't. If there were, within realistic commuting distance, a 20-30 school, or a teen school that puts a high priority on post-graduate experience, I'd be all over that. Unfortunately, it's pretty much Hail Mary or take a knee. Hopefully, I can pull a Flutie.

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whitman
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby whitman » Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:34 pm

Zinc, sorry I was a little heavy-handed in calling you out for your heavy-handedness. I apologize for insulting the schools you are considering. I am sure you could attend one of those schools for all three years and still find a fine job if you do as well as you should and really push the networking and searching. I do think that your GPA will be discounted a lot because it's been 14 years and you have had great experience since. That PhD might count for a lot more than people think since it's been so long since you were in undergrad. However, a 168 is likely not quite high enough to balance it. If you write a really strong PS and addendum and Why Michigan essay, I think a 170+ would give you a very strong shot. If you are set on attending a school this year, then it probably isn't worth it to retake the LSAT because they will mainly look at your grades. If you are at the top of your class, you will have a very strong shot at getting into Mich. If you can wait a year, I would think that a strong LSAT could definitely put you into consideration for Michigan straight up. As far as money goes, I have no idea. Sorry. Best of luck.

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lostjake
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby lostjake » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:11 pm

I also live in Detroit. Unfortunately most people are like zincfinger that come from this area.

dramaticpaws
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Re: 2.97/168, strong soft factors

Postby dramaticpaws » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:21 pm

If you are still going to be tied to Michigan (more specifically, Southeast Michigan) after you get out of law school, Wayne seems like a better fit. You will likely get a full ride to attend there as they would love to have your 168 and will eat the 2.97 to get it, not to mention the time sense undergrad and the Ph.D. to boot. If you get in at Michigan, fantastic, but if you will ultimately stay here it may not be worth the extra debt. I would seek out local attorney's that are doing patent law and see where they went and what the market is like, etc. It never hurts to start networking early!




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