Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Law Student Loans

For the second time in a month, I have spoken to a law student who has so much debt that her aspirations for law school will be impossible because she wanted a public service job. The American Bar Association, in 2003, issued a report, Lifting the Burden: Law Student Debt As A Barrier To Public Service -- The Final Report of the ABA Commission on Loan Repayment and Forgiveness. The report makes the obvious findings that law students are graduating with increasingly appalling debt loads that keep them from taking public service jobs, paying low salaries. It made some recommendations that states, federal government, law schools and the bar work together on Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP). It lists many law schools with LRAPs in place. But I can tell you that my school's program is thinly capitalized, and I'll bet that is true at too many schools. This is a crying shame.

One other thing the report discusses is the use of IOLTA funds to help fund LRAPs. I have no idea if that has happened. I know that the Legal Services which already have a claim on the IOLTA money are already seriously underfunded and over-committed. It would be nice to think there might be enough IOLTA money for both items, though.

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