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Letters to the Editor

Debt forgiveness as an incentive for legal aid

I enjoyed reading the letter from the president in the November eJournal. One way I think the State Bar could make a tremendous impact: law school student loan forgiveness. Many of us wish to be able to pursue more noble work, more pro bono hours, more meaningful assignments, but most of us do not have the financial ability to do so.

If you want to activate all of the young idealist lawyers in the state, those who dream of being able to volunteer, the answer is really simple: Give us an exit out of the noose hanging around our necks. I'm sure there are a myriad number of ways of doing this. I would imagine it would be easy to fundraise for this program. Perhaps donors could choose to sponsor particular projects that attorneys are working on?

This is a better solution than the loan forgiveness programs because those programs require a full-time commitment, the salaries are too low. Thus there is little incentive for associates to leave their high-paying jobs, since their loans will still hang on for at least a decade – if they stay at the job long enough. It also allows attorneys who cannot work full-time jobs to use their licenses for good, rather than not at all.

It saddens me to think all of the good work that could be getting done that isn't. Many lawyers are too scared to do anything outside of their job for fear of retribution with no backup plan or who are otherwise not in a financial position to volunteer because of their hefty loan payments.

Caitlyn M. Obolsky


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