The American Bar Association has signaled that it would like to step up its efforts to help lawyers manage their student loans.
The House of Representatives of the ABA on Monday with an overwhelming majority supported a resolution Call on the organization to push federal lawmakers into a number of changes that would reduce the debt burden of many young lawyers, such as: For example, borrowers can refinance their government-sponsored loans at lower interest rates and those with private student loans participate in government repayment programs.
“As this national student loan crisis escalates, ABA is a profession whose new entrants are far more burdened by loan debt than most,” said Aaron Sohaski, junior attorney representative, of the House of Delegates during their virtual meeting . “If this resolution is not passed, the ABA will likely not have a seat at the table during the inevitable national student loan discussion.”
The decision was supported by the Department of Law Students and the Department of Young Lawyers. No one spoke out against the resolution during the House of Delegates meeting on the last day of the ABA’s mid-year meeting. A related resolution calling on the ABA to lobby for federal lawmakers to make it easier for student loan borrowers to bankrupt their loans has been withdrawn. Young attorney and law student supporters said they were hoping to bring this resolution back when the House of Delegates next meets in August.
According to the latest US Department of Education figures, the national average debt of law graduates in 2016 was $ 145,000. (The Department of Education will soon release an updated figure based on 2020 figures.) More recently, a 2020 survey of lawyers in their first decade of practice conducted by the Young Lawyers Department found that many Delayed marriage or home purchase due to their student loan debt. Of these respondents, more than 75% owed $ 100,000 or more on closing; more than half owed at least $ 150,000; and a quarter owned more than $ 200,000. Many also said that their loans were a source of stress or anxiety.
The report accompanying the student loan resolution found that the rising cost of legal education has been a concern for at least two decades, but the problem has only escalated. The resolution calls for a number of changes in addition to allowing federal borrowers to refinance and private borrowers to participate in programs that limit monthly payments based on income. She also calls on the ABA to work with the federal government to provide funds to help individual borrowers repay their student loans and to suspend or cancel student loan debt.
The House of Delegates also approved a law student department order asking the bar licensing authority in each jurisdiction to allow bar examiners to include menstrual products on the bar exam. This problem attracted attention last summer preparing for the first national online bar exam.