Law School Graduates Awash in Student Loan Debt

It’s no secret that going to college can cost plenty, and there are no shortages of student loans, whether you’re looking for federal college loans, graduate loans, or private student loans.

Recently however, the American Bar Association has come under fire for the way it allows law colleges to report post-graduation employment rates. Some recent law school graduates charge that they’ve been fraudulently induced to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on law degrees that haven’t resulted in gainful employment as an attorney or even in any position that will allow these graduates to make the minimum payments on their law graduate loans.

Some graduates complain that they’ve amassed $200,000 or more in debt from student loans in pursuit of Juris Doctorate degrees, operating under the assumption that their alma mater’s post-graduation employment rates were sufficiently high to allow them to find work after graduation.

One law college statistic repeatedly being called into question is the nine-month employment rate. The ABA has always allowed law college to count any employment, whether or not it requires a law degree or is even relevant to the field of law, toward a school’s post-graduation employment percentage.

Under this type of accounting, law school graduates who, nine months after graduation, are making minimum hourly wage as servers at Chili’s or cashiers at Target are included in their law school’s percentage of “employed” graduates.

Another problem? Reported starting salaries for newly graduated attorneys appear to be hyperinflated.

This alleged puffery shows up in surveys like the ones published by U.S. News & World Report, which compares law colleges around the country and ranks them according to tiers. The starting salary figures reported by the highest-ranked law colleges like Yale and Harvard are repeated among law schools in the second- and third-tiers of the survey, even if these figures don’t reflect the actual average starting salaries of the lower-tier schools’ graduates.

Students comforted by those reported employment rates and starting salaries assume it’s worth the immediate debt load to take on both federal graduate loans and non-federal private student loans to cover the cost of law school — debt that presumably will be paid back from the certain paychecks to come with a six-figure attorney’s salary — only to find after graduation that there are few, if any, jobs available in the legal profession right now.

The recent recession, particularly, has left law school graduates in desperate need of debt relief, with a growing mound of student loan debt and few options for repaying it.

The complaints have focused renewed attention on the ABA, and the professional organization has responded by posting a warning on its website about the risks of attending law college. In part, the ABA warns prospective students that the cost of attending law college has risen at twice the rate of inflation — a rate comparable to the rise in college tuition for any four-year or professional degree.

The ABA also warns that the starting salary figures that many law colleges promote in their literature — $160,000 at some large and prestigious law firms — reflect pre-recessionary earnings.

According to the ABA, nearly half of all recent law school graduates who are employed earn a starting salary of less than $65,000. That $65,000 figure turns out to be an important threshold: Many analysts say that newly minted attorneys need to earn at least that much just to stay ahead of their monthly student loan payments.

In addition to shrinking salaries, law school graduates must grapple with the fact that the legal profession has lost more than 15,000 permanent positions at large law firms since 2008. Many of those vanished positions represent job cuts felt by the newest associates — the most recent graduates of law school and those quoted in the employment and salary statistics offered by law colleges in their recruitment and marketing literature.

Some critics say that while employment remains high among top-tier law school graduates, many other new lawyers are suffering because the second- and third-tier schools they attended charge as much in tuition as top-tier schools do but don’t deliver on the prestige and high-quality law school experiences of their top-tier counterparts.

The ABA is now examining whether it should refine the questions in its surveys of law school in order to get more realistic statistics for law school rankings providers like U.S. News. In mid-December, the organization held a two-day hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to discuss the collection of job placement data.

As these talks lumber on, however, the ABA offers suggestions like these to students considering law school: Attend a local public law school to take advantage of lower in-state tuition rates; live at home to save on transportation and boarding costs; enroll part-time and continue working while in law school.

Great Details Regarding A Law Enforcement Career

Law enforcement officers are of different forms, each having a different jurisdiction and set of duties. Some officials are city-based, while others are working in rural areas. Some members associated with the police force take part in the close-up analysis of proof and evidence, while others are just in the office and don’t patrol at all. Here is a basic overview of the numerous types of the police and law officers.

Making sure of the public safety and enforcing the certain laws and regulations in their area is the heart of the law enforcement profession. Almost eight hundred fifty thousand devoted people are detectives or police officers in the USA. Nearly 80 percent of those law officers are employed in the nearby communities as well as country sheriff’s workplaces. The remaining percentage work for Government or even State law enforcement agencies.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics needs law enforcement jobs to grow quicker compared to other work categories through 2012, due to open public concerns about crime. In general, the minimal needs for that profession in the U.S.A include as being an American resident, being at least 20 years of age, can pass the medical requirements and have graduated from High School. The Federal Law enforcement agency requires a college degree. Some local and State Units are also requiring for at least units from college. A law officer that works for criminal justice can increase their chances to find their work fulfilling in combating criminal cases.

Great personality and sincerity are essential traits for those in quest of law enforcement professions. Criminal background checks, psychological tests, as well as drug screening may be a part for the recruiting process. Physical examinations generally consist of tests with regard to agility, strength, hearing as well as eyesight.

Even though the recruitment process received several training in bodily skills like self-defense and with the use of firearms, and they also need to be prepared to know the laws that they are going to impose in detail and carry-out plenty of clerical and paperwork responsibilities. The officers’ task usually comprises routine patrolling and also looking into accidents and follow-up crime scenes. The need to testify in the court and to chase after a running suspect of the crime scene is also some of the duties of the law enforcement officer.

Changes to College Loan Laws Benefit Borrowers

College students, their parents, and graduates paying back student loans can all benefit from recent changes to federal loan laws, described below.

Changes to Federal Loan Applications
All new federal college loans will be made through the Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program. This means that the subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans made to students, and Parental Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) made to parents are no longer available through banks or private lenders like Sallie Mae.

Banks and private lenders can of course still offer their own college loans, but there is now a distinct separation between private and government loans. This has made the process for getting federal loans clearer, since there is now only one way to apply: fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and inform your college that you would like to take out federal loans.

Federal loans may also become easier to get. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, told the Wall Street Journal that his research shows that private lenders have historically approved far fewer federal loans than the Direct Loan Program.

Changes to Federal Loan Interest Rates
Some federal loans have become cheaper as a result of lower interest rates. The fixed rate on a subsidized undergraduate Stafford Loan has decreased from 5.6 percent to 4.5 percent. PLUS Loans that were at 8.5 percent interest have been dropped to the 7.9 percent rate that some PLUS Loans were already being charged.

Changes to Pell Grants
The maximum Pell Grant amount has gone up from $5,350 annually to $5,550. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible for Pell Grants, which are awarded based on financial need. Fill out the FAFSA to apply.

Changes to Federal Student Loan Repayment Options
There have been several changes to the guidelines for paying back student loans:
• 2010 graduates with Stafford Loans that originated before July 1, 2006 can consolidate the loans within six months of leaving school to lock in a low 1.87 percent rate. These loans will otherwise have a variable interest rate refigured yearly.
• Eligibility for the Income Based Loan Repayment Program (IBR) for federal student loans is now calculated using the greater of either: the current amount of the loan or the balance when repayment began. In the past, eligibility was determined only by a comparison of the loan amount at initiation of repayment with your income. If you qualify for IBR, your loan payments are capped at a certain percentage of your income, and all remaining debt is forgiven after 25 years.
• Couples who jointly file taxes and are both paying back loans through IBR now have their payments calculated differently. Calculations now take into account that their joint income has to cover the sum of their loans. Before, the joint income was used to determine the payments for each individual’s loan, resulting in a high total amount due.

So there’s lots of good news, but current students might have to deal with some red tape. If you have a federal student loan that was made through a private lender before these changes went into effect last July, and you need to take out a new loan, you will have to sign a Master Promissory Note. This can be done online. Contact your financial aid office for more information about how the rule changes affect you, and how to make the most of the new borrower-friendly laws.

Attorneys in Rural Areas and Law Schools

Although the number of truly rural areas has dwindled over the past half-century, rural life still exists throughout America. In the rural environment the principal industries – farming, ranching, logging, fishing – require space. The number of people per square mile is minimal, and the towns are miles apart.

In rural areas the population may be as low as ten thousand people (and frequently fewer – the least populous country in the United States, Loving Country, Texas, has fewer than two hundred people). Small towns of several hundred to several thousand continue to serve as local markets and gathering places. Having been spared the major government and industrial complexes that have promoted the growth of their larger neighbors, these areas sometimes seem like lands that time forgot.

The bar in these small towns will be small and intimate, with population-attorney ratios of one thousand to one or greater. Towns of ten to twenty lawyers are not uncommon, and some towns may not even have a single resident attorney. Still, the legal business gets done, some would say more quickly and efficiently than in the cities. Deals may be consummated over downside, lawyer income is likely to be less and legal work may be routine (“womb to tomb” as one small-town lawyer equipped). Everyone knows everything about everyone else’s business (and personal life). And the lack of access to cultural events may be oppressive to some.

If there is a segment of the population that remains under-lawyered, it is probably those who live in rural areas. Most law students come from urban centers and return to similar surroundings upon graduation. Even those who grew up in small towns frequently remain in larger cities after college and law school. This has resulted in a drain of talent, not just in law but in other professions as well, from rural areas. For those willing to make the commitment to this lifestyle, however, a satisfying future may lie in store.

Law Schools

There are over 180 law schools in the United States approved by the American Bar Association, and several dozen more not approved by the ABA (see the Appendix), Graduates of ABA-approved law schools can take the bar examination and become licensed to practice law in every state in the elimination and become licensed to practice law in every state in the United States, whereas graduates of non-ABA-approved schools typically can only sit for the bar exam in the state where their law school is physically located.

How to Find a Family Law Mediator in Massachusetts

The name of a provider of Divorce mediation services is often readily available through your attorney. In order to become an attorney, an individual needs to graduate from college, complete law school, and pass a bar examination specific to the state where he or she hopes to practice. Additionally, most states require attorneys to pass an ethical examination. The process is arduous and challenging. Qualities and qualifications most important in choosing a divorce attorney are ethics, experience, and responsiveness to client’s needs. A person must be comfortable with his chosen counsel, believing that his or her attorney is not only able to meet his or her needs, but is also able to clearly explain the process while willing to take the time to answer questions along the way.

At the end of the process, the attorney is licensed to dispense advice or speak on behalf of people to advance their position. Family Law is a specific area, which requires an extensive knowledge of the law and demands patience. There is a standing joke that the difference between a criminal litigant and divorce litigant is that the criminal litigant is on his or her best behavior during the process while the divorce client is on his or her worst. A good divorce lawyer will refer the client to a competent therapist or at least suggest therapy during the process, as the unavoidable stress of a divorce has been seen to have untold physical and emotional effects on people. The more emotionally healthy a client is, the easier it is to settle the case.

A family law mediator is typically an attorney who has had family law experience. In addition to training as an attorney, the family law mediator is also trained as a mediator in separate training. The best way to locate such an individual through an experienced family law attorney who can recommend a family law mediator to you. A license to practice mediation is not required, so there is no regulation as there is for an attorney who must be licensed in Massachusetts. Some states regulate the mediation profession but Massachusetts does not. Some mediators are trained as psychologists who may be helpful for a parenting plan but if parties are seeking to resolve financial issues, it is always best to select an attorney with family law experience.

A divorce mediator should also have experience in divorce related cases and mediations, be ethical and have an ability to explain. Legal training for a divorce mediator is helpful, but specifically marital divorce experience is particularly important since the practice of divorce law requires not only skill and knowledge but the ability to understand how to assist parties. A provider of Divorce mediation services as provided by a family law attorney is often an optimal method of locating a divorce mediator.