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Working as a paralegal as a way into the Bar???

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    hi there

    one o my bessies got a 2:1 from Anglia Polytech , but then did the BVC and also a LLM with distinction. she wants to become a barrister. she applied for two consecutive years for pupillage but got turned down. meanwhile she worked as a paralegal for the past 2 years. do you think she can still get into the Bar?

    my other mate got a low 2:1 from some rubbish uni, did the LPC and didnt get any training contracts so paralegalled for a year then that firm offered her a training contract.

    How easy/hard is it to go from being a paralegal into a barrister ? i always thought any doss could become a paralegal and at most they like the LLB. ??
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    Anyone kno?? As for all you law students, im pretty sure this will be your situatuin in 3 years, since tc waiting lists are well into 2013 and the bar never takes anyone
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    hi there

    one o my bessies got a 2:1 from Anglia Polytech , but then did the BVC and also a LLM with distinction. she wants to become a barrister. she applied for two consecutive years for pupillage but got turned down. meanwhile she worked as a paralegal for the past 2 years. do you think she can still get into the Bar?

    my other mate got a low 2:1 from some rubbish uni, did the LPC and didnt get any training contracts so paralegalled for a year then that firm offered her a training contract.

    How easy/hard is it to go from being a paralegal into a barrister ? i always thought any doss could become a paralegal and at most they like the LLB. ??
    Right now, a lot of paralegals are LPC graduates anyway due to people needing any job they can get. It's not as easy as anyone walking in and getting a job in the legal sector.

    While a few people do qualify "up" to become a solicitor, I don't think it's any easier than the conventional route of applying for training contracts and certainly wouldn't be advised if that's the reason for taking the job. I've never really heard about anyone going from paralegal to the bar but again, I can't imagine it's an easier option.
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    Anyone kno?? As for all you law students, im pretty sure this will be your situatuin in 3 years, since tc waiting lists are well into 2013 and the bar never takes anyone
    Didn't see this post when I first replied.

    I really don't understand what you're trying to say here. TC applications are now into 2013 because that's how the system works, for the most part you apply 2 years in advance. There are the occasional exceptions to that, I know a couple of firms who still have limited places for 2012 but if people want their LPCs sponsored, then they need to have their TC secured before they begin. To do that they need to go through the recruitment process in plenty of time. There's nothing odd or difficult going on with the TC application process, yes it may be slightly harder at the moment due to an excess of law students and slightly fewer jobs but it's not like we'd all be applying to begin this September in better times...

    Same for the Bar, yes, it is competitive and a lot of people on the BPTC will not obtain pupillage but that's the way it always and plenty of people DO manage it. To say the Bar never takes anyone is just plain wrong.
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    There are plenty of people who paralegal after the BPTC in order to eat. This may increase their legal and commercial awareness and therefore their prospects of securing a pupillage but so may other "day jobs".

    In the case of solicitors firms quite a number of smaller firms offer training contracts to favoured paralegals. There is no point in joining a large paralegal "factory" and hoping for a training contract.
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    (Original post by LostInLaw)
    Didn't see this post when I first replied.

    I really don't understand what you're trying to say here. TC applications are now into 2013 because that's how the system works, for the most part you apply 2 years in advance. There are the occasional exceptions to that, I know a couple of firms who still have limited places for 2012 but if people want their LPCs sponsored, then they need to have their TC secured before they begin. To do that they need to go through the recruitment process in plenty of time. There's nothing odd or difficult going on with the TC application process, yes it may be slightly harder at the moment due to an excess of law students and slightly fewer jobs but it's not like we'd all be applying to begin this September in better times...

    Same for the Bar, yes, it is competitive and a lot of people on the BPTC will not obtain pupillage but that's the way it always and plenty of people DO manage it. To say the Bar never takes anyone is just plain wrong.
    Lost in Law - do you work in Law? I didnt realise it was standard to apply for TCs two years in advance - a few of my friends who were not remarkable in any way, applied for TC while doing the LPC and got one asap after finishing.

    I can see that paralegal work would help with aspitring solicitors, especially since they can offset paralegal time to shorten their TC before qualifying.

    but the jump from paralegal to barrister seems to be more unlikely.
    http://www.theiop.org/careers/barrister-paralegals.html
    institutre of paralegals says that working as a paralegal is "unlikely to help" with gettig pupillage and what it comes down to is

    we seem to be returning to the time when your chance of getting pupillage was extremely low unless you already knew people at the Bar and/or were educated at a top-notch school/university and/or you could bring with you useful client contacts that would help you/your chambers to develop business...........In the face of the above challenges, we are not sure that a year or two's paralegal experience will make much difference either way.
    what do you think?

    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    There are plenty of people who paralegal after the BPTC in order to eat. This may increase their legal and commercial awareness and therefore their prospects of securing a pupillage but so may other "day jobs".

    In the case of solicitors firms quite a number of smaller firms offer training contracts to favoured paralegals. There is no point in joining a large paralegal "factory" and hoping for a training contract.
    i would say paralegal will help with solicitors but is not helpful for securing pupillage for barristers. it may be useful work experience i guess.

    what do you think?

    also do you know any barristers? did they paralegal for a couple years first? i would guess most of them didnt.
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    Lost in Law - do you work in Law? I didnt realise it was standard to apply for TCs two years in advance - a few of my friends who were not remarkable in any way, applied for TC while doing the LPC and got one asap after finishing.

    I can see that paralegal work would help with aspitring solicitors, especially since they can offset paralegal time to shorten their TC before qualifying.

    but the jump from paralegal to barrister seems to be more unlikely.
    http://www.theiop.org/careers/barrister-paralegals.html
    institutre of paralegals says that working as a paralegal is "unlikely to help" with gettig pupillage and what it comes down to is

    what do you think?
    I'm a 3rd year law student with my TC secured for a 2012 start. It depends a lot on what sort of firm people apply for, the big city firms have the money to sponsor people's LPC and so will fill up their spaces in advance. A small high street firm will be less likely to spending money on trainees and so will be able to take people on much closer to their actual start date. (Of course there's everything in between but I've just used extremes to make the point!)

    If you don't secure a TC before beginning the LPC you need to find other ways of funding it - with your own money, your parents' money, a bank loan etc. College of Law's London premises for example, currently charge £12,550, that's a big ask for a lot of people. Without a TC, I would be looking at an alternative career. I couldn't justify spending that amount of money with potentially no return.

    i would say paralegal will help with solicitors but is not helpful for securing pupillage for barristers. it may be useful work experience i guess.

    what do you think?

    also do you know any barristers? did they paralegal for a couple years first? i would guess most of them didnt.
    I would think generally it's not the best of ideas and it won't do much, if anything to set you apart. As nulli tertius said though, some people have to take it on because you've got to pay the bills somehow. I would also imagine that it depends on the candidate/firm/chambers. If you've got a 2:2, you want to work in criminal law and you paralegal at a firm specialising in family law, it won't make any difference. If you've got stellar academics but perhaps you're lacking in experience and you decide to work for an appropriate firm then perhaps it's more likely to be considered. If aspiring barristers have to undertake paralegal work to keep a roof over their heads, then it can probably be spun to seem a positive experience but it's not a path that people should seek out as an alternative way of making up for other areas of their application because it won't work.

    I know a couple of barristers, in their 30s now. I don't know any current pupils. There are huge numbers of students on the BPTC who won't ever obtain pupillage, so have spent large amounts of money on a useless qualification.
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    (Original post by LostInLaw)
    I'm a 3rd year law student with my TC secured for a 2012 start. It depends a lot on what sort of firm people apply for, the big city firms have the money to sponsor people's LPC and so will fill up their spaces in advance. A small high street firm will be less likely to spending money on trainees and so will be able to take people on much closer to their actual start date. (Of course there's everything in between but I've just used extremes to make the point!)

    If you don't secure a TC before beginning the LPC you need to find other ways of funding it - with your own money, your parents' money, a bank loan etc. College of Law's London premises for example, currently charge £12,550, that's a big ask for a lot of people. Without a TC, I would be looking at an alternative career. I couldn't justify spending that amount of money with potentially no return.
    yeah i only asked because you seem to know loads. i did my law degree a while ago, graduated at the top of my year with a 1st but didnt fancy a)the ration of training cotracts:wannabe solicitors b)TC salaries c)the abuse of trainees (did you hear about freshfields sacking all their year 1's halfway through their TC in the recession, cos it was cheaper to recruit new trainees than promote them to year 2's)

    i went onto finance and taxation, but as i lovvve jurisprudence i quite fancy doing LLM or MRes in this field. taxation - you want a job, have a good law degree you will get a good job paying £20-25k in the regional small firms and much more in london. there are no jobs in jurisprudence other than academia but i would love to write and be published so am thinking to do it on the side. just saving up now. any advice appreciated


    I would think generally it's not the best of ideas and it won't do much, if anything to set you apart. As nulli tertius said though, some people have to take it on because you've got to pay the bills somehow. I would also imagine that it depends on the candidate/firm/chambers. If you've got a 2:2, you want to work in criminal law and you paralegal at a firm specialising in family law, it won't make any difference. If you've got stellar academics but perhaps you're lacking in experience and you decide to work for an appropriate firm then perhaps it's more likely to be considered. If aspiring barristers have to undertake paralegal work to keep a roof over their heads, then it can probably be spun to seem a positive experience but it's not a path that people should seek out as an alternative way of making up for other areas of their application because it won't work.

    I know a couple of barristers, in their 30s now. I don't know any current pupils. There are huge numbers of students on the BPTC who won't ever obtain pupillage, so have spent large amounts of money on a useless qualification.
    my mate is working for a large firm of human rights law, solicitors, barristers etc and she wants to go to the employment bar. she has a 2:1 from anglia poly, distinction in LLM and two years paralegalling, as for 3 consecutive years she has been rejected from the pupillage. what do you think her chances are? and after how many years would you reccoment someone like her to give up?

    re the bit in bold - i 100% agree. all the toffs were like omg i got a 2:1 im DEFINATELY gonna be a barrister and got their mom and pop to pay for it, but none have pupillage.
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    (Original post by LostInLaw)


    I know a couple of barristers, in their 30s now. I don't know any current pupils. There are huge numbers of students on the BPTC who won't ever obtain pupillage, so have spent large amounts of money on a useless qualification.
    This is anecdotal--there are about 500 current pupils. The odds are stacked heavily against you. No one should start the BPTC without considering their application with dispassionate eye, or ignorant of the odds. But there are still pupillages out there for the best candidates. There are good candidates who won't get pupillage, of course. But there are also people doing the BPTC who don't really have a hope and are deluding themselves.
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    (Original post by jjarvis)
    This is anecdotal--there are about 500 current pupils. The odds are stacked heavily against you. No one should start the BPTC without considering their application with dispassionate eye, or ignorant of the odds. But there are still pupillages out there for the best candidates. There are good candidates who won't get pupillage, of course. But there are also people doing the BPTC who don't really have a hope and are deluding themselves.
    Sorry, twas badly written, the perils of multitasking to an extreme level! They were unrelated comments. 1. Yes I know barristers although in their 30s so not current pupils. 2. There are a lot of people on the BPTC with minimal chances of obtaining pupillage.
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    (Original post by jjarvis)
    This is anecdotal--there are about 500 current pupils. The odds are stacked heavily against you. No one should start the BPTC without considering their application with dispassionate eye, or ignorant of the odds. But there are still pupillages out there for the best candidates. There are good candidates who won't get pupillage, of course. But there are also people doing the BPTC who don't really have a hope and are deluding themselves.
    (Original post by LostInLaw)
    1. Yes I know barristers although in their 30s so not current pupils. 2. There are a lot of people on the BPTC with minimal chances of obtaining pupillage.
    is it really that bad though? i mean 2500 doing BVC, assuming say, 80% get VC thats 2000 left, of them, 90% have a 2:1 - that leaves 1800 (assuming a VC and 2:1 are minimum requirements). Assume say, 30% go into private practice or other professions =1260

    So by the end of year one after the BVC completion, the pool of eligible candidates is more than halved automatically. Now the chances for the remaining 1260 is roughly 1 in 2 for getting one of the 500 places avaliable.

    do you think it is less competitive goining into a niche area like IP or employment law?
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    is it really that bad though? i mean 2500 doing BVC, assuming say, 80% get VC thats 2000 left, of them, 90% have a 2:1 - that leaves 1800 (assuming a VC and 2:1 are minimum requirements). Assume say, 30% go into private practice or other professions =1260

    So by the end of year one after the BVC completion, the pool of eligible candidates is more than halved automatically. Now the chances for the remaining 1260 is roughly 1 in 2 for getting one of the 500 places avaliable.

    do you think it is less competitive goining into a niche area like IP or employment law?
    All of these statistics are suppositions. There's no support for the argument that 30% go into "private practice" or other professions. The majority of barristers are self-employed. Barristers cannot go into practice at all unless they have completed a pupillage--so no BPTC grad could go into practice without doing a pupillage first. 1260 is not 1 in 2--it's more like 1 in 2.5. In any case, the relevant figure is the ratio of applicants to pupillage. By most people's calculations, this is more like 8 to 1.

    I think niche areas are, if anything, likely to be more competitive. This is certainly true for IP. The standard of applicant at more specialised sets is likely to be higher, at least in terms of raw stats on paper. Compare the calibre of pupils at the top commercial sets with the calibre of pupil at a good provincial common law set--the former are likely to be almost exclusively Oxbridge firsts. Does this mean you need to get an Oxbridge first to get a pupillage? No. But a specialised/niche set is likely to be tougher to get into, not easier, and your friend will need a good explanation of why you want to specialise in that area. I don't think a 2:i from Anglia Polytech (do you mean Anglia Ruskin? Or do you mean the "polytechnic on the Fens"?) will cut it at many specialist/niche sets unless your friend's cv is in some other way strong.
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    (Original post by jjarvis)
    All of these statistics are suppositions. There's no support for the argument that 30% go into "private practice" or other professions. The majority of barristers are self-employed. Barristers cannot go into practice at all unless they have completed a pupillage--so no BPTC grad could go into practice without doing a pupillage first. 1260 is not 1 in 2--it's more like 1 in 2.5. In any case, the relevant figure is the ratio of applicants to pupillage. By most people's calculations, this is more like 8 to 1.

    I think niche areas are, if anything, likely to be more competitive. This is certainly true for IP. The standard of applicant at more specialised sets is likely to be higher, at least in terms of raw stats on paper. Compare the calibre of pupils at the top commercial sets with the calibre of pupil at a good provincial common law set--the former are likely to be almost exclusively Oxbridge firsts. Does this mean you need to get an Oxbridge first to get a pupillage? No. But a specialised/niche set is likely to be tougher to get into, not easier, and your friend will need a good explanation of why you want to specialise in that area. I don't think a 2:i from Anglia Polytech (do you mean Anglia Ruskin? Or do you mean the "polytechnic on the Fens"?) will cut it at many specialist/niche sets unless your friend's cv is in some other way strong.
    hmmm i dunno, 2500 bar students and 500 places is 1 in 5 getting a pupillage. 20%. That is roughly the same as the driving test pass rate for some london areas and brentwood (28%). not impossible.

    my mate went to Angluia Ruskin. she got a 2:1, wants to ONLY go into emplyoment bar but isnt fussed about the chanbers. she also did LLM Employment law at UEA (Distinction) and has worked as a paralegal in employment law for two years. so it is pretty good right? what are her chances?

    i cant believe that ALL 500 places are taken by oxbrigdge folk, or even those from top ten unis. cos i mean oxford LLB is like 30 people per year and most wont do BVC.

    im only interested cos i wanted to do BVC but unlike my mate i have no rich parents to pay all my fees if it goes wrong (i have no proper parents), so i couldnt afford the risk.
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    hmmm i dunno, 2500 bar students and 500 places is 1 in 5 getting a pupillage. 20%. That is roughly the same as the driving test pass rate for some london areas and brentwood (28%). not impossible.

    my mate went to Angluia Ruskin. she got a 2:1, wants to ONLY go into emplyoment bar but isnt fussed about the chanbers. she also did LLM Employment law at UEA (Distinction) and has worked as a paralegal in employment law for two years. so it is pretty good right? what are her chances?

    i cant believe that ALL 500 places are taken by oxbrigdge folk, or even those from top ten unis. cos i mean oxford LLB is like 30 people per year and most wont do BVC.

    im only interested cos i wanted to do BVC but unlike my mate i have no rich parents to pay all my fees if it goes wrong (i have no proper parents), so i couldnt afford the risk.
    First, there are more applicants than students who finish the BPTC in any given year, as I noted above.

    Second, I don't know about your friend's chances--I haven't looked at the employment bar in any depth. Her paper record is ok, but the standard of applicant is high, and ARU isn't particularly well-regarded, which puts her at a disadvantage. The LLM might help some.

    Of course all 500 places aren't taken by Oxbridge grads. That said, there are way more than 30 students graduating with a BA from Oxford in any given year. I don't know how many apply to the bar, but there are almost certainly more than 30. Cambridge, for example, has 200+ students per year.
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    hmmm i dunno, 2500 bar students and 500 places is 1 in 5 getting a pupillage. 20%. That is roughly the same as the driving test pass rate for some london areas and brentwood (28%). not impossible.
    What you've not taken into account is the cumulative effect of those who did not succeed in gaining pupillage in previous years. The BPTC is valid for five years, so in effect, in any one year, you could have not only the recent grads of the BPTC applying, but all those who still hold valid BPTC/BVC from previous years. This substantially increases the numbers of those seeking one of the <500 pupillages available.

    Of course, you have to deduct those who seek pupillage in other jurisdictions (I believe the amount was stated to be around 23% of BPTC students in any year), and the absolute no-hopers (I wouldn't want to give a figure for this), but thereafter, you are still left with a statistic that allows a GOOD candidate a 1 in 4 chance of obtaining a pupillage - I think the 1 in 8 statistic JJ refers to is for all candidates.

    Frankly, the more I see the statistics bandied about, the less I think they are an issue - it's the money those who will never secure pupillage are wasting that is the issue, and that issue has to be addressed prior to the BPTC ever being undertaken - which is what the BSB aptitude test will be for (though I have issues with this as it will be available to be taken more than once).

    The fact that one has a 1 in 4 chance of obtaining a job which one is well qualified for, is not an abnormal statistic in relation to job applications in general.
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    (Original post by SevenStars)
    What you've not taken into account is the cumulative effect of those who did not succeed in gaining pupillage in previous years. The BPTC is valid for five years, so in effect, in any one year, you could have not only the recent grads of the BPTC applying, but all those who still hold valid BPTC/BVC from previous years. This substantially increases the numbers of those seeking one of the <500 pupillages available.

    Of course, you have to deduct those who seek pupillage in other jurisdictions (I believe the amount was stated to be around 23% of BPTC students in any year), and the absolute no-hopers (I wouldn't want to give a figure for this), but thereafter, you are still left with a statistic that allows a GOOD candidate a 1 in 4 chance of obtaining a pupillage - I think the 1 in 8 statistic JJ refers to is for all candidates.

    Frankly, the more I see the statistics bandied about, the less I think they are an issue - it's the money those who will never secure pupillage are wasting that is the issue, and that issue has to be addressed prior to the BPTC ever being undertaken - which is what the BSB aptitude test will be for (though I have issues with this as it will be available to be taken more than once).

    The fact that one has a 1 in 4 chance of obtaining a job which one is well qualified for, is not an abnormal statistic in relation to job applications in general.
    http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/emp...ent/pupillage/


    UK centre for legal education
    AWESOME link - they have graphs and stats and breakdown by gender and ethnicity

    they reckon its more like 1:400 - "it would be misleading to say the chances of securing pupillages are 1:4"
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/emp...ent/pupillage/


    UK centre for legal education
    AWESOME link - they have graphs and stats and breakdown by gender and ethnicity

    they reckon its more like 1:400 - "it would be misleading to say the chances of securing pupillages are 1:4"
    I was actually quite particular in stating GOOD candidates, and I even capitalised it and emboldened it to be sure that what I was saying was clear.

    Fortunately you included the link with your above 'quote', which actually does not state what you have said it does, because it goes on to quantify the statement, indicating pretty much what I said in my previous post re overseas and previous BVC students continuing to apply. The ratio 400:1 is very specifically referred to as in "some of the better known chambers" and also states "although these are of course multiple applications – many apply to several chambers".

    No one is denying that pupillage is difficult to obtain, but there's no point in trying to make it seem far worse than it is.
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    is it really that bad though? i mean 2500 doing BVC, assuming say, 80% get VC thats 2000 left, of them, 90% have a 2:1 - that leaves 1800 (assuming a VC and 2:1 are minimum requirements). Assume say, 30% go into private practice or other professions =1260

    So by the end of year one after the BVC completion, the pool of eligible candidates is more than halved automatically. Now the chances for the remaining 1260 is roughly 1 in 2 for getting one of the 500 places avaliable.
    My point was more the number of people on the BVC who are generally not considered eligible candidates to begin with.

    http://rollonfriday.com/TheNews/Euro...6/Default.aspx

    "Over 60%" of the CoL's students have a 2:1 or higher. You're looking at around 1/3 of the institution's students with a 2:2 or lower. As a good candidate, the odds probably aren't as awful as they first seem in relation to BVC students/pupillage places due to the sheer amount of people on the BVC who will really struggle to obtain pupillage.

    I really can't advise on anyone's chances at any particular area of the bar. I'm at an ex-poly and discounted the idea right from the start because of that.
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    (Original post by LostInLaw)
    I really can't advise on anyone's chances at any particular area of the bar. I'm at an ex-poly and discounted the idea right from the start because of that.
    but ex polys with 2:1 can still go bar if you do an LLM at an ok-ish uni like UEA
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    (Original post by shinytoy)
    but ex polys with 2:1 can still go bar if you do an LLM at an ok-ish uni like UEA
    Arguably, it can be done, yes but there are a lot of people who will argue that an LLM doesn't "make up" for a first degree, it just may give you a slight edge over other similar students from lower ranked unis. Certainly the case for solicitors, I'm not sure how the bar perceives additional qualifications but I would have thought it's similar, the exception being something like Oxford's BCL. The fact is the bar is still based on academics far more than most professions. It is competitive. Any advantage you can have, you should take and for most people that is going to the best university possible and working to get the 2:1/1st.

    Of course, there are students from lower ranked universities who succeed at the Bar (one of the barristers I know is ex-Southampton Institute, what is now Solent) but they're in the minority.

    Things like LLMs, paralegalling experience are all well and good and if you have that experience then you need to do your best to work it to your advantage. Realistically, I don't think they do all that much to set you apart from every other qualified applicant out there and they often aren't worthwhile enough to make up for flaws such as below average academics.
Updated: March 21, 2011
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