Tuesday, June 26, 2007

United States House of Representatives
Passes Bill Aiding Public Service Lawyers

The June 2007 edition of the ABA eNewsletter reports as follows:

On May 15, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would help new law school graduates who wish to take positions as state or local prosecutors, or as federal, state or local public defenders but might be deterred because of relatively low salaries and high student loan payments. Under the program, lawyers who join the criminal justice system are eligible for forgiveness of a portion of their student loans when they commit to complete at least three years of qualifying public service.

ABA President Karen J. Mathis, noting the monthly loan repayment of $800 to $1,100 that many lawyers face with a median starting salary of $42,000 for public service lawyers, wrote, "Under the current system, lawyers often are forced to leave such public service for higher paying positions in law firms or other venues, meaning that the lawyers who do remain are stretched thin and must assume considerable case loads. In addition to such strain on the individual lawyer and family, this threatens the administration of justice and the very fundamentals of our nation."

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed its version of the bill on April 10. It is now awaiting full Senate action.

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