Monday, August 13, 2012
Considering college or law school? Ann Aiken, U.S. District Court of Oregon chief judge, has some strong words of warning.
In an extraordinary March 5 opinion, Aiken departed from the particulars of a student debt collections case to rip the U.S. higher education system in general and the nation's law schools specifically for burdening a generation of graduates with oppressive debt. "Students with advanced degrees, specifically juris doctorates, are facing a quagmire," Aiken wrote. "Attending law school was a guaranteed way to ensure financial stability. For current graduates, however, this is no longer true, due in large part to the high cost of law school tuition." To cover those ever-escalating tuition, graduates commonly borrow $100,000 or more these days, after which many promptly borrow another $15,000 to see them through a bar exam review course and the necessary months of study. ... First-year lawyer jobs are few and far between. Aiken noted that in 2010, 382,828 applicants sought less than 2,700 clerkships with federal judges.
Aiken included her four-page rant in an opinion in the case of Michael Hedlund, of Klamath Falls, has fought for nine years to get some or all of his law school student loans legally discharged. Aiken reversed a lower-court ruling allowing Hedlund to discharge about $50,000 of his $85,000 in law school debt. Hedlund attended Willamette University Law School in Salem in the late 1990s. He failed to pass the bar in two tries and gave up altogether after inadvertently locking himself out of his car while enroute to his third attempt. He works as a probation officer in Klamath County's juvenile department.
- ABA Journal, Oregon Chief District Judge Blasts High Cost of Legal Ed
- Above the Law, Bankruptcy Still Can’t Save You From Law School Debt, But That Doesn’t Mean Judges Have to Like It
- The Oregonian, Law School Graduates From Oregon and the Nation Lost in Debt, Looking for Work
- The Oregonian, Law Schools Revenues Soar as They Kake in Millions from Tuition and Fees, as Supply Exceeds Demand