: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Student Loan Repayment Assistance for Prosecutors, Defenders

As previously mentioned in Public Sector Attorney Loan Repayment; U.S. Public Service Academy, H.R. 916: John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2007 has passed the house and awaits the Senate. If that sounds a bit hazy, take this opportunity to brush up on your legislative process.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Georgia Democrat David Scott, H.R. 916 aims to do the following:

  • Establishes a program of student loan repayment for borrowers who agree to remain employed, for at least three years, as State or local criminal prosecutors or as State, local or Federal public defenders in criminal cases;
  • Allows eligible attorneys to receive student loan debt repayments of up to $10,000 per year, with a maximum aggregate over time of $60,000;
  • Covers student loans made, insured or guaranteed under the Higher Education Act of 1965, including consolidation loans;
  • Permits attorneys to enter into additional loan repayment agreements, after the required three-year period, for additional periods of service;
  • Requires attorneys to repay the government if they do not complete their required period of service; and
  • Authorizes $25 million per year through FY 2013 after which the program would sunset unless re-authorized.

See WSJ: Uncle Sam Wants You and Will Pay Off Your Loans

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

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

U. Chicago Law Podcast, Lior Strahilevitz’s Universal ‘How’s My Driving?’ Proposal


The University of Chicago Law School professor Lior Strahilevitz gave a fascinating talk on his Universal ‘How’s My Driving?’ Proposal that was made available on the Law school’s podcast. Listen to the talk in full below and sign up for the podcast.

Though I was initially skeptical, the more I listened, the more convinced I became of the inefficiencies of the present system of enforcing and allocating the costs of bad driving, but the opportunities we now have to make improvements. Very, very interesting.

On a related note, my favorite econ blog, Marginal Revolution, just posted on some interesting research on The economics of traffic fines
, which finds the following:

The farther the residence of a driver from the municipality where the ticket could be contested, the higher is the likelihood of a speeding fine, and the larger the amount of the fine. The probability of a fine issued by a local officer is higher in towns when constraints on increasing property taxes are binding, the property tax base is lower, and the town is more dependent on revenues from tourism.

At the beginning of his talk, Strahilevitz notes that prestige-seeking law schools tend to eschew courses in traffic law as beneath their institutional mission, but that they shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment. Traffic-related cases make up 60% of our nation’s cornucopia of litigation and the costs of poor driving amount to nearly 2% of our GDP.

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Strahilevitz: How’s My Driving? For Everything and Everyone (.mp3) [available from University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog]

Eben Moglen

The O’Reilly Distributing the Future Podcast turned up this interesting talk at OSCON 2006 by Eben Moglen, professor of law and history of law at Columbia University. Moglen, pro bono General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation and Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center is an unabashed champion of open source software development and staunch critic of patents in software. I’ll let you make your own conclusions, but found his contention that American patent law arose from immigration policy fascinating.

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Eben Moglen ~ Legal Opinions (.mp3)

Apprenticing to the Law in Vermont

You don’t have to go to law school in Vermont. You can ‘read the law’ just like Abe Lincoln, apprentice to a lawyer, then take the bar. The bar, one would assume, is the equalizer. On the other hand, any lawyer would tell you there is a component of socialization in law school that’s important. Just as many would tell you that law school is useless and could be done away with. For my part, if someone just torted me, I would take the lawyer with some schoolin’.

NPR: Lawyer’s Apprentice: Reading the Law in Vermont

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