Swayed by repayment programs

December 7, 2009
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Last week, two large law schools announced updates to their loan forgiveness programs. The Berkley School of Law at the University of California and Georgetown University Law Center will now cover all law school loan debt for graduates who work in public interest areas for at least 10 years, with some exceptions, of course.

The schools’ programs are working in tandem with the College Cost Reduction & Access Act, the federal program that will forgive loan balances after the borrower has made payments for 10 years. Participants in the federal program have their monthly loan payments capped at around 10 percent of the borrower’s income. The Berkley and Georgetown programs will pay those capped monthly payments until the debt is forgiven by the federal government.

The schools’ programs will pay all capped costs for graduates making up to a certain salary amount – those who exceed that limit will have their loans paid back on a sliding scale.

The announcement from Berkley and Georgetown comes on the heels of news from Harvard Law School that it’s ending its program designed to help students because of overwhelming interest. Harvard launched it in 2008 and it would waive 3L tuition for students that committed to public interest jobs for five years after graduation.

Indiana recently restarted its loan repayment program thanks to funds from the Indiana Supreme Court. Indiana’s loan program is for attorneys working at civil legal aid organizations. The Indiana Bar Foundation’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program had been suspended due to low funds.

The four law schools in Indiana also list information on their Web sites about their respective LRAP programs.

After reading about the Berkley and Georgetown programs, I couldn’t help but wonder if law school applicants interested in public interest jobs would be swayed to attend a school which had a great loan repayment or assistance program like these. A Georgetown law professor was quoted in a news article as saying the school hopes it will attract more applicants with the program.

With a new emphasis on helping graduates with public interest aspirations repay their loans, or have them repaid completely, how much will this impact students going to “Big Law” firms? We hear that some students go to large firms only because of the crushing amount of debt they face after graduation. Will these types of programs cause more to go into public interest jobs because they won’t have to worry as much about their student loans?


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues