Sharkdiver

UBC vs U of T (corporate law focus)

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Hi, I am a long-time lurker but first-time poster on LS.ca. As the title suggest, I am having a rather hard time choosing between my offers from UBC and U of T. I am interested primarily in corporate law, focusing mainly on corporate litigation. So, unlike many of the other posts about UBC vs U of T, I am not one of those students who is looking to avoid the corporate morass in choosing the home for my legal studies. I am a highly competitive/combative person and I thrive on intellectual competition, ideally at the most rigorous level possible. That said, I also enjoy the outdoors and having a 'life', however limited it may be, away from my studies as well. Thus, UBC has the added bonus of the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Mountain Range. 

My debate over these two schools, however,  revolves principally around three issues. First, and foremost, is the financial cost--U of T with an expected $35,000+ a year tuition/fees comes with a hefty price tag when compared with the 11/12k tuition at UBC. Is the added cost really worth it when it comes to job placement? Do U of T grads have an easier time landing corporate jobs, not just in Toronto but in other major metropolitan centers? In other words, is the purchasing power of a U of T degree actually worth the pecuniary costs, at least when it comes to finding employment in the corporate legal job market? Would going to UBC put me at an extreme disadvantage when looking for 'Big law jobs' beyond Vancouver (Calgary, Toronto)? 

Second, would going to UBC substantially reduce my chances of taking up a dual bar position in the United States? It appears that a few U of T grads have been able to head down south into the New York legal market ( after challenging the bar and securing a TN Visa). Has anyone heard of any UBC grads doing the same? Or perhaps going the LLM at HYS route and challenging the Californian bar after? In short, I intend on practicing primarily in Canada, but I don't want to unduly limit my options. 

Finally, is the intellectual competition at U of T of any higher standard than UBC? I want the best legal education I can get, and a big part of that is being surrounded by stimulating and bright peers. Is the U of T reputation of having the 'best and the brightest' students actually the case? Yet from the quantitative metrics (GPA, LSAT), it appears that the schools are very comparable in terms of the caliber of their student bodies. So is there something I am missing? 

Any insights, especially from former or current students from these respective institutions, would be greatly appreciated. 
 

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I only have a limited perspective having attended an American school, but I will say that when I was debating between HYS and U of T, I found the cost of the U of T degree to not be worth it. The school does not offer enough of an advantage in biglaw placement, or in future earning power, or even in terms of things like clinics, professors, and courses, to justify its vastly higher fees compared to other Canadian schools.

 

If you are dead set on working Bay Street, U of T MAY be worth it, but ultimately in Canada, there is no school that provides you with any advantages. At each school, you will need top drawer grades to get Bay Street (unlike in America where biglaw is 95% guaranteed from the top schools), and so, if you are dead set on Biglaw, you may actually want to go to a less intellectually competitive school that will give you more room to succeed grades wise. Nonetheless, that's just my two cents. I've had friends who went to UBC and spoke highly of it, it won't shut any doors for you. And at the end of the day, if you want American work, you should be going to an American school. Getting US biglaw from any Canadian school is incredibly difficult.

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I think Canadian law school in general are very good law school  and offer very good quality of legal education. I think you got into two  highly regarded schools dominating in east and in the west.

I think law school is a place, no matter how hard one try, there will be some people always ahead of you. Especially if you got into a good ones and you think you do really well in some courses. , When see the class ranking of each single course. There is  possibility that you may see more people ahead of you.  That's the time you know you are surrounded by people with your own kinds.

If you want to head down to California for bar , I may suggest you  go to law school that you want to take bar. Law in each state law is quite apart from each other. California has 100000 Civil law articles !!!!   That's mass quantity right there. Just a single civil law, not include criminal law, corporation law Corporation Law 35000 !!!! (Even reading the mass of articles may be beyond limits already, but I am suspicious of  US law students need to study it all) and so many other laws unmentioned yet!!!!  It's better get LLM in state that you would like to take the bar. In this case, Stanford may be you best bet. Berkeley is not a bad option.

 

Edited by akulamasusu

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9 hours ago, Livinginamerica said:

At each school, you will need top drawer grades to get Bay Street.

You don't need top drawer grades from U of T to get Bay Street. If you're top 30% you're pretty much a lock, and if you're 40th to 70th percentile you have a good chance at Bay. 

Edited by DenningsSkiTrip
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1. Re cost: is U of T really worth it vs UBC when it comes to job placement? Probably not, U of T may make it easier to get to Bay Street but that's largely geographical. There are UBC people getting Bay Street jobs every year, just not many, but that's likely because not too many UBC people try. If they wanted to work in Toronto with their stats they probably would have just gone to school in Toronto. What I would say is U of T makes it easier to get a Toronto job because you're in Toronto, and Toronto can be weird about hiring people from outside of the big 4 Ontario schools. My impression is it's easier to go to other markets from U of T than it is to get to Toronto from out of province schools. This is just what I've concluded from watching U of T students from BC or Alberta have a relatively easy time getting big law jobs in those markets.  

2. Re the US: I know a U of T JD allows you to write the New York and Massachusetts bar, not sure about UBC. There are UBC law grads working in New York though, so there is obviously some way to do it. Honestly though, if you want to work in the US go to a US law school. 

3. No one will be able to answer this unless they have been to both schools. My personal opinion is that if GPA and LSAT are both similar at two schools and the spread in the numbers is close they will be equally competitive (assuming a similar grading curve). 

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California bar pass rate is 40% for first taker.  NY bar pass rate is 80% for first taker which is high. NY bar You probably buy some in barbri bar review material , a cram school in US for online review, you may have a chance to pass it without really need getting LLM since it's all common law, Each country show some sort of similarity but also some sort of difference. In other words, it's not quite the same in some parts. Lots of people prefer NY not only because it's higher bar pass rate but also lots of commercial activity or corporate finance over there.  Bar is multiple choice, I heard people do lots of old practice tests repetitively and past exam and figure out why they get right or get wrong for multiple choices. It's about both speed and accuracy in that exam. They also have a few essay type questions in NY. You may check that out for detail by google or google intended state bar pass rate. But be aware the subtle difference between passing bar and hunting an america job but that's another issue that's may be beyond my discussion here.

Edited by akulamasusu

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..The article number of the corporation law in California exist many discontinuity ..... The total number of articles of corporation law in California is probably several thousand. Article number of California civil code may be just several thousands of them.   Sorry for big error in my initial post

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Thanks for the insightful responses. I guess many of you are highlighting what I already suspected--the costs of U of T may not be worth the potential boons. Though Dennings does raise the interesting point about competitive advantage in the Bay St. market, (which sounds right in my mind). But is that advantage worth the extra 66,000ish in tuition? 

In regards the US issue, as I said above, "I intend on practicing primarily in Canada, but I don't want to unduly limit my options." The US, in other words, is not my primary target. If it were, then I would have bitten the bullet and accepted my offer from a T6 program. The principal problem for me with going down there for school is the cost, especially considering the abysmal conversion rate over the last two-to-three years. I simply could not afford to pay roughly 80,000.00 (CAD) a year on tuition alone. That kind of debt load would make it almost impossible to try and ever practice in Canada if I wanted to go the reverse route. Not to mention paying off like 250,000 (US) in debt, after accounting for living expenses while working in say New York or Chicago, interest accrued on the loans, and taxes, would take a hell of a long time even on the gold standard apex starting salary of 140-160k (US).

In short, I just want to keep my options open but the US is not my primary target. I have narrowed my offers down to U of T and UBC, and I am just looking at weighing the costs vs. benefits of these programs. 

 

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This topic tends to come up quite often on the forum, and I think the most sound advice time and time again is to go to school where you would like to live/work... want into the Toronto market? Pick Toronto... want to live in BC? Well, you get it. Want to go to NY, well your best option would probably be to go to school in New York, but you'll have the opportunity to write the NY bar whether you attend UBC  or Toronto (as long as you're competitive). A lot of this revolves around the more pragmatic issues of interviewing/finding articling positions, which will eventually land you the corporate gig you're looking for (it's easier to enter the Toronto market if your OCIs are all Toronto firms). In regards to the cost, I've had several friends graduate from UofT and each of them has assured me the additional cost was not worth it, while admitting they did have great opportunities they felt they wouldn't have gotten elsewhere... So take that for what it's worth... 

Edited by fromPhDtoLaw
Typos (writing on phone)
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Honestly, most of my friends from U of T have expressed varying degrees of resentment over the cost of the school. However, more than anything else, they have expressed anger at being sold a bag of goods by U of T. 

In the United States there is this idea of so-called 'trap' schools. These are schools that charge the same as the T6 but do not have very good biglaw placement rates, meaning it is nearly impossible to pay back the loans you would need to attend said schools. What makes them 'trap' schools, however, is the fact that they lure students in with slick marketing materials promising prestige and biglaw money, and yet, only the top 25% to 33% of the class manage to get those jobs. However, those biglaw jobs are the only way you are able to pay back your tuition, there is absolutely no protection if you have to, like the majority of your classmates, end up working at a small firm that pays less.

 

U of T is comparable to these US 'trap' schools. Thanks to their high tuition, they lure unsuspecting students in to pay their high fees with promises of "prestige" and "bay street". Their tuition is such that it can only be paid off in a reasonable amount of time if you are able to land a Bay Street job. And yet, only the top 33-40% of the class actually manages to land these jobs. U of T is comparable in its placement rates to these US 'trap' schools. If you think Fordham is worth sticker price, then go to U of T. Both offer similar biglaw placement rates, and both require a biglaw job to be able to sustainably pay back the loans you will incur to go there. 



You said you avoided US schools because of the amount of debt you would take on, but I would stress this to you, as someone who had a similar decision to you, you are taking an even bigger risk going to U of T than you ever would going to a US T6. I know you think, right now, that you will be in that top portion of the U of T class that gets Bay Street, but statistically, it is far more likely that you will not be. So if you fall in that 60-66% that strikes out, what do you do then? You still have U of T debt that was built in anticipation that you would be earning Bay Street money once you graduate, only now, like most of your peers, you are working at a small firm that doesn't pay you enough to service that debt. 

 

I think people really overestimate the value of rankings in Canada. The top school in Canada only matters if it gets you something, as in, a better paying job or what have you. Ranking matter in the US because biglaw (and therefore big money) is pretty much guaranteed from the T6 (as in, 85% chance at a lower T6, 95% chance at HYS), meaning that even though its big debt, you can be reasonably confident of being able to pay it back with you 180k salary. That is simply not the case at U of T. Everyone who goes to U of T is dissapointed on some level. If you make Bay Street, you will resent the people who went to cheaper schools, got the same firm as you did, and now can enjoy their money rather than servicing U of T debt. If you end up a lower paying small firm, you will I am sure hate U of T for saddling you with massive Bay Street debt that you have no hope of paying back in a reasonable time frame. I was honestly shocked, when I did my research, how poor the placement rates at U of T actually are compared to the American T6, and when measured against the level of tuition they are charging.

 

It's just not worth the risk, stick with UBC, if you do well, you can still make Bay Street, if you don't make Bay Street, you don't have to worry about not being able to pay back your debt. U of T is a marketing trap, shiny materials that don't deliver. No one can really say what unique opportunities U of T offers compared to other schools, think about that. 

Edited by Livinginamerica
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^ To be fair, UofT is comparable to other Canadian schools in cost if you can live at home all expenses paid. 

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6 minutes ago, kiamia said:

^ To be fair, UofT is comparable to other Canadian schools in cost if you can live at home all expenses paid. 

Sure, I mean if it's your local school it's probably more justifiable. Don't be running around the country chasing U of T 'prestige' however, unless you can specifically quantify what that gets for you, and if it's worth the risk of potential downsides.

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55 minutes ago, Livinginamerica said:

Honestly, most of my friends from U of T have expressed varying degrees of resentment over the cost of the school. However, more than anything else, they have expressed anger at being sold a bag of goods by U of T. 

In the United States there is this idea of so-called 'trap' schools. These are schools that charge the same as the T6 but do not have very good biglaw placement rates, meaning it is nearly impossible to pay back the loans you would need to attend said schools. What makes them 'trap' schools, however, is the fact that they lure students in with slick marketing materials promising prestige and biglaw money, and yet, only the top 25% to 33% of the class manage to get those jobs. However, those biglaw jobs are the only way you are able to pay back your tuition, there is absolutely no protection if you have to, like the majority of your classmates, end up working at a small firm that pays less.

 

U of T is comparable to these US 'trap' schools. Thanks to their high tuition, they lure unsuspecting students in to pay their high fees with promises of "prestige" and "bay street". Their tuition is such that it can only be paid off in a reasonable amount of time if you are able to land a Bay Street job. And yet, only the top 33-40% of the class actually manages to land these jobs. U of T is comparable in its placement rates to these US 'trap' schools. If you think Fordham is worth sticker price, then go to U of T. Both offer similar biglaw placement rates, and both require a biglaw job to be able to sustainably pay back the loans you will incur to go there. 



You said you avoided US schools because of the amount of debt you would take on, but I would stress this to you, as someone who had a similar decision to you, you are taking an even bigger risk going to U of T than you ever would going to a US T6. I know you think, right now, that you will be in that top portion of the U of T class that gets Bay Street, but statistically, it is far more likely that you will not be. So if you fall in that 60-66% that strikes out, what do you do then? You still have U of T debt that was built in anticipation that you would be earning Bay Street money once you graduate, only now, like most of your peers, you are working at a small firm that doesn't pay you enough to service that debt. 

 

I think people really overestimate the value of rankings in Canada. The top school in Canada only matters if it gets you something, as in, a better paying job or what have you. Ranking matter in the US because biglaw (and therefore big money) is pretty much guaranteed from the T6 (as in, 85% chance at a lower T6, 95% chance at HYS), meaning that even though its big debt, you can be reasonably confident of being able to pay it back with you 180k salary. That is simply not the case at U of T. Everyone who goes to U of T is dissapointed on some level. If you make Bay Street, you will resent the people who went to cheaper schools, got the same firm as you did, and now can enjoy their money rather than servicing U of T debt. If you end up a lower paying small firm, you will I am sure hate U of T for saddling you with massive Bay Street debt that you have no hope of paying back in a reasonable time frame. I was honestly shocked, when I did my research, how poor the placement rates at U of T actually are compared to the American T6, and when measured against the level of tuition they are charging.

 

It's just not worth the risk, stick with UBC, if you do well, you can still make Bay Street, if you don't make Bay Street, you don't have to worry about not being able to pay back your debt. U of T is a marketing trap, shiny materials that don't deliver. No one can really say what unique opportunities U of T offers compared to other schools, think about that. 

1. I have no idea where you're getting 33-40% from. 55-60% of the U of T class in any given year gets a 2L OCI job, and even with low hireback rates the number of actual jobs at the end of it wouldn't drop that far. Then you can add in the 10-15 or so who get big law jobs in Calgary and Vancouver, the 10 or so who go to New York, those who go to Ottawa, etc. The hiring numbers may not be as good as Harvard or Yale in their respective market, but your numbers aren't accurate.  Employment prospects are hardly as grim as you say. 

2. I think you're overstating the impact of U of T's debt compared to its peer Ontario schools. U of T's tuition for 3 years will be $105,000, Osgoode is $81,000, Queens and Western are $60,000. Does it make a difference? Sure. Is it life altering? If $105,000 in student loan debt crushes you then honestly $60,000 probably will as well. This is not remotely the same thing as paying $185,000 in tuition at Thomas Jefferson school of law with zero prospect of ever paying it back. 

Don't get me wrong, you have some good points, but you also seem to have a U of T axe to grind (no idea why you'd care being at HYS to be honest), and you're posting numbers and making some statements that just aren't accurate. I think the OP might be better served if we stick to the facts here. 

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4 minutes ago, DenningsSkiTrip said:

1. I have no idea where you're getting 33-40% from. 55-60% of the U of T class in any given year gets a 2L OCI job, and even with low hireback rates the number of actual jobs at the end of it wouldn't drop that far. Then you can add in the 10-15 or so who get big law jobs in Calgary and Vancouver, the 10 or so who go to New York, those who go to Ottawa, etc. The hiring numbers may not be as good as Harvard or Yale in their respective market, but your numbers aren't accurate.  Employment prospects are hardly as grim as you say. 

2. I think you're overstating the impact of U of T's debt compared to its peer Ontario schools. U of T's tuition for 3 years will be $105,000, Osgoode is $81,000, Queens and Western are $60,000. Does it make a difference? Sure. Is it life altering? If $105,000 in student loan debt crushes you then honestly $60,000 probably will as well. This is not remotely the same thing as paying $185,000 in tuition at Thomas Jefferson school of law with zero prospect of ever paying it back. 

Don't get me wrong, you have some good points, but you also seem to have a U of T axe to grind (no idea why you'd care being at HYS to be honest), and you're posting numbers and making some statements that just aren't accurate. I think the OP might be better served if we stick to the facts here. 

lol, my apologies if I got a little carried away. Exam season puts me in ranting mode for no discernible reason. 33-40% though, I do feel is a broadly accurate number, considering lower hireback rates in Canada and the fact that Ultra Vires numbers are not exclusively Bay Street firms but also include gov and some public interest. 40% is probably closest to being accurate, I don't think I'm far off though, but we might have to agree to disagree on that. 

 

And my point on the second issue is more that U of T is gearing tuition to Bay Street salaries when there is no guarantee of such a job. I was not comparing to Thomas Jefferson either, that would be unfair, I was however, comparing to Fordham, which I think is fair. Another fair comparison might be Georgetown.

 

I frankly have an axe to grind against all schools that are overselling themselves, I think that kind of marketing bubble needs to be popped honestly. 

Edited by Livinginamerica

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Oh, come on. People have complained about U of T's tuition, relative to other schools, since before I was in 1L, and I'm now in my fifth year of practice. For anyone feeling 'trapped' by U of T, well, that's more than a little ridiculous. It's not as though it's a secret what you're going to be paying to go there. If someone doesn't do even a modicum of research, they have no one to blame but themselves.

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3 hours ago, erinl2 said:

Oh, come on. People have complained about U of T's tuition, relative to other schools, since before I was in 1L, and I'm now in my fifth year of practice. For anyone feeling 'trapped' by U of T, well, that's more than a little ridiculous. It's not as though it's a secret what you're going to be paying to go there. If someone doesn't do even a modicum of research, they have no one to blame but themselves.

I am sure you are aware that not everyone reads this forum, and moreover, much of U of T's marketing material is designed to create an impression which is not entirely true. Not to mention the fact that the information surrounding Canadian law schools is generally very limited. In such an environment, I am not surprised that many intelligent people fall into such a marketing trap. Although a lot of it stems from the mere assumption that higher admission standards must correlate to a better school. Perhaps it translates into a better student body, but it doesn't necessarily translate to better outcomes, and moreover, you are paying for the privilege of any advantage you get. U of T's marketing material is a lot more slick than other schools, so I don't necessarily blame some of the people that I know for falling prey to it.

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I also just want to point out that UV's Bay Street survey bears out my 40% number for OP's reference: http://ultravires.ca/2016/11/recruitment-special-feature-bay-street-hiring-like-way/ Note that not all of those firms are biglaw firms, or even firms at all. Also note that hireback rates are far from 100% at many firms. My 40% number is not far off it seems.

 

Anyway, I did not mean to offend or start a major internet fight, just calling it like I see it. OP, you have the facts before you, I wish you the best in whatever decision you come to, I'm sure you'll do great whatever happens. 

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But I also have some question regarding 95% percent for big law. I think my teacher graduating from Cornell SJD program, he told us in a civil procedure class, US has this type of job, they give u 120K US dollar in the past, now is probably pay law student with 160K if you are top 5% in that law school. I think he probably metaphorically imply or refer himself as top 5%. He said he score highest score in civil procedure class and just try  basically everything he could to impress his professor or mentor, who is teaching civil procedure class, that is an area that he would to go on with his area of interest or specialty.  He also said US law school is 24 hr job, and he always lock himself up in library to study. I guess he was just so  stressed out at his LLM program in Cornell University and he was afraid of not being accepted to SJD program, no scholarship or no teaching position, he probably just have to discontinue his entire course of study. Since he didn't bring enough money with him to United States.

The other forum, I found out, a guy with straight A , he shared us with his success of successfully transfer from LLM of Upenn to JD program. The courses grades ranged from A- to A+  distribution , and I assume  the average probably and roughly A. Some classes he took along with JD students. Then he apply US job afterward and he apply 14 jobs and got accepted 7 afterward.

so 95% of big law is almost close to everyone things, but I don't doubt the possibility. But it's not quite the same as story I hear from my teacher or a anonymous stranger posing his success to transfer to JD program of Upenn or get job in big law. But I am not doubtful that the possibility I could be wrong since US has world most corporations in that country and the economy scale is very huge. HYS are probably the most distinguished schools in that country.

Edited by akulamasusu

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3 minutes ago, akulamasusu said:

But I also have some question regarding 95% percent for big law. I think my teacher graduating from Cornell SJD program, he told us in a civil procedure class, US has this type of job, they give u 120K US dollar in the past, now is probably pay law student with 160K if you are top 5% in that law school. I think he probably metaphorically imply or refer himself as top 5%. He said he score highest score in civil procedure class and just try everything he just basically try everything he could to impress his professor or mentor teaching civil procedure class, that is an area that he would to get his specialty.  He also said US law school is 24 hr job, he always lock himself up in library to study. I guess he was just so  stressed out at his LLM in Cornell University and he was afraid of not being accepted to SJD program, no scholarship or no teaching position, he probably just have to discontinue his entire course of study. Since he didn't bring enough money with him to United States.

The other forum, I found out, a guy with straight A , he show us his transcript,transcript grades ranging from A- to A+ , the average is roughly A. Some of classes he took along with JD studnets. Then he successfully transfer from LLM of Upenn to JD program. He apply 14 jobs and got accepted 7 afterward.

so 95% of big law is almost close to everyone things, but I don't doubt the possibility. But it's not quite the same as story I hear from my teacher or a anonymous stranger posing his success to transfer to JD program of Upenn or get job in big law. But I am not doubtful that the possibility I could be wrong since US has world most corporations in that country and the economy scale is very huge. HYS are probably the most distinguished schools in that country.

Bear in mind that Cornell is a significantly lower ranked school than HYS, where you probably would require top 50-60% grades to get biglaw, LLMs also don't tend to fare as well even at HYS, JDs tend to do better. The professor may also have gone to law school in a different time period when the market in the US may have been smaller. Certainly, in my experience, students in the bottom 25% of the Harvard class seem to be able to get V5/V10 NY firms with good interview skills (although we don't rank here), and there are very few people striking out entirely.

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Thanks for taking the time to provide some cogent arguments and elucidate many of the issues at hand.  Especially thanks to LivinginAmerica for the lucid points, though I do question the veracity of your HYS placement rates at 180k a year starting salaries. When I was seriously considering going down there, I certainly dug up some different figures for top end salaries like that. Then again, I am guessing you also went the T6 route and, therefore, you may be privy to data/info that I am not. 

Certainly even further leaning towards UBC more so now than ever. 

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