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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Average Law Student Loan Debt, Bill to Assist Prosecutors and Public Defenders

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Legislators have introduced a bill – John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2007 – aimed at encouraging law students to consider careers in the prosecutors and public defenders offices by offering “up to $10,000 per year, to a maximum of $60,000, in exchange for a commitment of at least three years of qualifying service.” As the article notes, graduating law students who might otherwise be interested in becoming a prosecutor or public defender don’t feel they can consider it because of the debt load they’re carrying.

In introducing S.442, Sen. Richard Durbin noted that the bill would establish a student loan repayment program for qualified attorneys who agree to remain employed for at least three years in certain public sector employment. The ABA noted that the average private law school graduate in 2005 had incurred $79,000 in debt, while students at public institutions borrowed on average $51,000. According to the Department of Education, the average student carries $20,000 in undergraduate debt before pursuing a career in law.

The choice is a real one. Prosecutors in Harris County make approximately $52,000. A recent law grad with offers at a firm offering six figures would be hard-pressed to take less than half of what he could get if he or she is just when the loan payments are starting to come due.

ABA Journal: ABA urges financial assistance for prosecutors and public defenders

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