T14 worth it for environmental law?

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postitnotes
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby postitnotes » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:19 am

-
Last edited by postitnotes on Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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ccs224
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby ccs224 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:24 am

Just to throw in my two cents - I work with a lot of people who focused on animal law while getting their JD's. A few of them have been successful practicing "pro-animal" law, but that generally isn't the case. From what they've told me, unless you want to work for the department of ag or cargill, animal law doesn't offer many choices, particularly in the realm of animal protection/welfare/rights. There are few animal-focused nonprofs with enough capital to afford full time attorneys, and those positions are in extremely high demand. My current boss graduated from Northwestern with a focus on animal law, but was never able to find a job in the field. When you do practice animal law, be prepared for most of it to be pretty depressing, as there are very few legal regulations regarding the treatment of animals and they are hard to enforce in the favor of animals. For example, I remember stumbling upon a memo on my current work computer from an old colleague responding to proposed changes in New Jersey's slaughter laws; the focus of it was that cows, rated as 1 on some body-weight index (I forget the name of it now) should not be slaughtered. On this scale, 0 indicated that cows had already died of starvation. That said, those who make it work don't make much money and probably don't win many battles, but do find it rewarding to fight the good fight.

As for environmental law, because there are stronger laws governing our treatment of the natural world (the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air and Water Acts, etc), there seem to be a lot more jobs in the environmental law field. Just as with animal law, there are more working for the government and for large corporations that will be more focused on circumventing environmental protections, but there will also be more jobs with a focus on environmental protection. I think that an earlier commenter had it right when they said that a student from a high ranking school who has a proven commitment to environmental law will do better than the same at a lower ranking school, but there are several organizations that love to take grads from low ranking / high enviro-focused law schools (such as the Waterkeepers, who take a lot of Pace graduates).

My overall recommendation - if you can get into a high ranking school with a strong focus in your field, go for it. If environmental and animal law are equal for you, go for environmental. If you can do neither, go for the highest ranked school with strong specialty in your desired area and spend your summers interning with related groups and networking your way into future employment.

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kumba84
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby kumba84 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:55 am

tasteofred wrote:
postitnotes wrote:You should to apply to all of the t14 and see which one offers the most aid, while looking at the LRAPs. I'd personally pay full price to go to NYU over all the schools listed in here so far, except Stanford. I think NYU has the best LRAP out of the bunch too.


Oh wow, I didn't think environmental or animal law qualified for LRAP. Well, I guess if I went into government, right?


Nonprofit work counts for LRAP, too.

I am very committed to environmental law, and nearly every environmental attorney I've spoken to has told me to go for HYS/NYU/Berkeley over Vermont and L&C. Of course there are very real financial concerns that everyone needs to evaluate for themselves, but those t-14 schools have excellent LRAP programs. I've been told that nonprofits try to hire t-14 grads because they look the best for their funders, among other reasons. One attorney at a prominent NGO even told me that her org gave all the credit for a major project to an HLS grad, even though a Vermont grad had done all the work. Generally, it seems that the bias against lower-ranked schools holds true in environmental law as much as every other kind, which is too bad, but certainly something to keep in mind when choosing a school.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:17 am

kumba84 wrote:
I am very committed to environmental law, and nearly every environmental attorney I've spoken to has told me to go for HYS/NYU/Berkeley over Vermont and L&C. Of course there are very real financial concerns that everyone needs to evaluate for themselves, but those t-14 schools have excellent LRAP programs. I've been told that nonprofits try to hire t-14 grads because they look the best for their funders, among other reasons. One attorney at a prominent NGO even told me that her org gave all the credit for a major project to an HLS grad, even though a Vermont grad had done all the work. Generally, it seems that the bias against lower-ranked schools holds true in environmental law as much as every other kind, which is too bad, but certainly something to keep in mind when choosing a school.


That is terrifically unethical and disturbing.

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vegansistah
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby vegansistah » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:04 am

Guimoman- thanks for your informational post! The information was very useful! And NEVER apologize for being a vegan hippie tree hugger! We pay it forward!!

:)

duodora
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby duodora » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:46 am

I just thought I'd add my own two cents into this discussion, even though I think most of it's already been said.

To the OP, I was sort of in a similar situation--I had the credentials for T14, but I'm *only* going to law school for environmental law, so VLS etc. looked really appealing. I eventually decided to go to the T-14 route, for a couple of admittedly not great reasons.

1) I didn't want to always be in the situation to be passed over for someone from a higher school (as someone mentioned above, NGOs like big names for getting grants, etc., also, I get the feeling that if you're a grad from VLS, to beat someone from NYU you need to be in the top of your class, have a focused curriculum, AND the NYU grad can't have had a strong focus in environmental...)
2) I wanted to have classmates who were similarly motivated, etc.
3) I'm admittedly a bit of a tree-hugger myself, but the real world's not like that. I'd rather learn what to do with ultra conservatives in law school than in the real world.

That said, *most* of the T14 don't have NEARLY as good a curriculum as the more environmentally specific schools.

Just to throw it out there as an extra comment--one thing that really influenced the schools I applied to was the presence of a dual degree program, because I really want to get either an MS or MEM (environmental management) concurrently with a JD. To throw it out there, some of the T14 schools that have environmental law classes AND a dual degree option are: Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, Duke, Penn, and Michigan.

But, take all of this with a grain of salt...I'm applying this cycle, and haven't even made a decision yet, much less gotten into the working world ;)

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JazzOne
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby JazzOne » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:58 am

FOB
:evil:

Z3RO
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby Z3RO » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:05 pm

I'm always impressed/confused when people haven't been to law school but know exactly what kind of law they want to practice.

Why do you want enviro law, OP? You know that you'll end up either making $0 or defending General Electric for poisoning us, right?

hedgehog28
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby hedgehog28 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:33 pm

Hi,

As a 3L about to go into an environmental law fellowship at graduation I wanted to add my two cents here.

First off I strongly strongly recommend t14 over environmental specific schools. The job market for environmental law is incredibly tough right now with a lot of non-profits loosing funding and fellowships etc. That being said there are certain non-profits I know that have a lot of L&C , Vermont and Pace grads, largely due to the networks created at that school.

However, biased I may be, but I would STRONGLY suggest you consider Georgetown, which I currently attend, for the reasons below:

t-14- some prestige there which is going to get you into better jobs and give you a shot of one of the very few fellowships that you can get on graduation (there are probably only12-15 fellowships in non-profits you can apply for all said).

Large School - Being a large school means that Georgetown offers a fantastic range of environmental opportunities. I came to law school wanting to go into climate change law and was able to take 3 different classes specifically on climate change. There are more environmental classes than I have been able to fit into my schedule such as Natural Resources law, environmental law, advanced environmental law, global health, environment and the law, water law, land use law, environmental research workshop, energy law, environmental law in the Supreme Court the list goes on and on.

Faculty- we have an amazing environmental faculty, including Supreme Court lawyers like Richard Lazarus, and other practitioners like Hope Babcock who know everyone in the field. Networking is so important in this career and having some of these people in your corner makes all the difference.

Location- Being in DC means that you can volunteer and work at a bunch of non-profits and government agencies while you are in law school. This is tremendously important for networking.

Extras- There is an environmental journal and two environmental clinics you can participate in while at Georgetown. We also opened a Climate Center last year that offers great research assistant positions.

LRAP- Georgetown's new LRAP is now one of the best, greatly helping you out after graduation if you want to go into public interest environmental law.

If any of you have any questions about Georgetown, environmental law generally, or fellowships/ post graduation work I'd be happy to answer them :-)

cubswin
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby cubswin » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:37 pm

tasteofred wrote: that absolutely means I'm a tree hugging, vegan, animal rights nut, but I'm not here to talk about that.



tasteofred wrote:I hardly thought of Berkeley


Hippie fail.

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ccs224
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby ccs224 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:51 pm

Z3RO wrote:I'm always impressed/confused when people haven't been to law school but know exactly what kind of law they want to practice.

Why do you want enviro law, OP? You know that you'll end up either making $0 or defending General Electric for poisoning us, right?


How is this confusing? I think going into law school with a strong focus is a much more rational decision than signing up for three years and over 100k in costs of law school without a strong sense of what you want to do with your degree. I'm not the OP, but in my case, I'm going to law school because I know that it's one of the best ways to advance my career and effectiveness working in environmental law (it would be much more rewarding to file a lawsuit against the DOE, for example, than write the press release describing it). But, I do agree that no one should go into environmental law thinking they'll come out with a lucrative career working for the public interest - you can get a decent wage, but rarely a big one.

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ccs224
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby ccs224 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:00 pm

hedgehog28 wrote:Hi,

As a 3L about to go into an environmental law fellowship at graduation I wanted to add my two cents here...


Hey Hedgehog! I was held in December at GULC and would absolutely kill to go there. So, I've got a few questions for you. First, what's up with the Environmental Law and Policy Institute? Their website says that it won't be updated anymore, and their director has left. Is it basically defunct, or are they still doing things but just not sharing them online?

What are your thoughts on GULC's clinics? They seem to have a bunch of good ones, but no environmental law ones. I'm really interested in clinics, as I want to get as much practical experience in before grad as possible, so I find Georgetown's lack of one a bit confusing. Have you done one of the other clinics? Do you feel that you've gotten enough real world experience at this point?

What do you think has been your best environmental law class? The faculty they have is pretty amazing, so I'm sure they're all decent, but I'm wondering if any one stands out as particularly helpful.

Thanks!

hedgehog28
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby hedgehog28 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:45 pm

ccs224 wrote:
Hey Hedgehog! I was held in December at GULC and would absolutely kill to go there. So, I've got a few questions for you. First, what's up with the Environmental Law and Policy Institute? Their website says that it won't be updated anymore, and their director has left. Is it basically defunct, or are they still doing things but just not sharing them online?

What are your thoughts on GULC's clinics? They seem to have a bunch of good ones, but no environmental law ones. I'm really interested in clinics, as I want to get as much practical experience in before grad as possible, so I find Georgetown's lack of one a bit confusing. Have you done one of the other clinics? Do you feel that you've gotten enough real world experience at this point?

What do you think has been your best environmental law class? The faculty they have is pretty amazing, so I'm sure they're all decent, but I'm wondering if any one stands out as particularly helpful.

Thanks!


Hey!

GELPI is now defunct - the main takings issues they focused on are basically fixed now, as far as I understand. The climate center is in a way a replacement for GELPi (and much more interesting in my opinion). There is also a new kind of program which is focusing on bringing in speakers and bringing different bits of environmental law together which has kind of taken over from GELPI.

There are actually 2 environmental clinics at Georgetown. the Institute for Public Representation has an environmental section. That clinic is a litigation one. 6 students per semester work there full time for real clients. I actually start there on Tuesday. Lots of my friends were in it last semester and found ti very challenging but very worthwhile.

The other clinic is Harrison, which has a section of students who focus on energy and transportation issues. This clinic is more policy based with no litigation. They often work hand in hand with the new climate center.

I loved my class with Lisa Heinzerling, who is now an Associate Administrator of the EPA so no longer at Georgetown. I haven't had Richard Lazarus yet, but generally he is everyone's favorite.

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ccs224
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby ccs224 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:08 pm

hedgehog28 wrote:Hey!

GELPI is now defunct...


Thanks! Good to hear that there are enviro law clinics at GULC - I hadn't seen that in any of their materials, so that's definitely a plus.

I've actually have another question for you as well. Have you done anything with the journals? If so, how would you describe the experience? If not, why not?

Congrats on the fellowship, by the way. Care to share any info about it? (Feel free not to.)

Thanks again.

hedgehog28
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby hedgehog28 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:25 pm

ccs224 wrote:
I've actually have another question for you as well. Have you done anything with the journals? If so, how would you describe the experience? If not, why not?



Yep, I actually run the environmental journal. I think it is very worthwhile. You gain a lot of writing and editing skills, you have a nice network of friends, and it looks great on your resume. Its a lot of work, but I enjoy it most of the time and really value many of the relationships I have made through it. Generally I would say 2L year its not too much work at all and then 3L its as much as you want to put in. Roughly you get out what you put in. some people say don't do journal and do something else instead like be an RA. I did both and it was totally manageable. Don't let people scare you away from doing journal, it's really not as bad as people make out.


ccs224 wrote:
Congrats on the fellowship, by the way. Care to share any info about it? (Feel free not to.)


It's a 2 year fellowship, some litigation, some policy. Mainly climate change work- transportation being the focus. $51,500 a year in an area of the country where that should go a long way. So not a tonne of money like my peers going into firms, but still much better than some of the fellowships that pay $35,000 in places like DC.

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kumba84
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby kumba84 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:07 am

duodora wrote:3) I'm admittedly a bit of a tree-hugger myself, but the real world's not like that. I'd rather learn what to do with ultra conservatives in law school than in the real world.


I agree with this point. I could probably go to VLS or L&C for very little money, but I don't want to go to a school where most students think the same way I do. I also think it's really important to make sure your t14 has a great curriculum and other environmental opportunities; it certainly sounds like GULC does (though they haven't let me in yet...).

novagirl
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby novagirl » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:28 am

I know this has already (sort of) been addressed here, but

I want to work for a non-profit or the government doing environmental law/policy. I don't expect to make a lot of money doing this. Is it better to go to VLS/L&C and graduate with only $30K-40K in loans, or to GULC/GW and graduate with almost $200K in loans? I don't want to be forced to take a high-paying BIGLAW job that I hate in order to pay off my loans.

rookhawk
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby rookhawk » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:38 am

If you're a very liberal individual and you really want "environmental law" a very strong option is the dual degree program. The law degree comes from Vermont Law School and the other degree is a master's of forestry-something-something from Yale University.

Of course if you get a law degree dealing with environmentalism from Vermont you've permenantly tipped your hand as to what your personal bias is going to be, so keep that in mind. (For those that don't know, Vermont is by far the most liberal/extreme environmentalist state out there...the law school supports the stereotype)

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kn6542
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby kn6542 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:11 am

tasteofred wrote:
postitnotes wrote:You should to apply to all of the t14 and see which one offers the most aid, while looking at the LRAPs. I'd personally pay full price to go to NYU over all the schools listed in here so far, except Stanford. I think NYU has the best LRAP out of the bunch too.


Oh wow, I didn't think environmental or animal law qualified for LRAP. Well, I guess if I went into government, right?

Yeah, a lot of environmental law is done in firms - advising corporations how to not break the law and what to do when they happen to do so. If you want to do activism, which is most of the environmental law not done in firms, most likely that will be covered by a LRAP. Animal law can potentially be pretty diverse. If you work in private practice (which is pretty common for animal lawyers), it wouldn't be covered by a LRAP, obviously, but again, activism or govt work would be. So, it just depends on what you want to do.

You'll have more flexibility and options available if you go to a national school. But the debt issue is something you'd have to weigh for yourself. Honestly, I would consider the ranking of the school over the individual programs. If you are already aiming at schools in the L&C range, definitely keep it on your list, but if you can do better, don't let the lack of programs deter you from going to a better school. The important thing to get from law school is the whole "learning how to think like a lawyer" thing, and while that sounds trite, it's true. You can teach yourself a lot of the law that you need to practice in other areas after you graduate. You can also take advantage of independent research opps, summer internships, etc. ALDF seems to always have summer intern opps advertised, and you can contact them even if it's not listed. http://www.aldf.org/

duodora
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby duodora » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:23 pm

rookhawk wrote:If you're a very liberal individual and you really want "environmental law" a very strong option is the dual degree program. The law degree comes from Vermont Law School and the other degree is a master's of forestry-something-something from Yale University.


The Yale has a build-your-own Master's of Environmental Management degree--which looks pretty sweet--if anyone's interested, here's the link:
http://environment.yale.edu/prospective ... ement-MEM/

Also, if you can swing a Yale acceptance, I believe Yale has the best LRAP out there (If you make under 60,000 they pay back everything, and if you make over 60,000 you pay 25% of the difference. It doesn't matter what field you work in, the LRAP works for any field, not just strict public interest).

I know there are a couple of other T14 schools with pretty good LRAPs--I know Berkeley has a good one, and I think Stanford does as well.

duodora
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby duodora » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:31 pm

novagirl wrote:I know this has already (sort of) been addressed here, but

I want to work for a non-profit or the government doing environmental law/policy. I don't expect to make a lot of money doing this. Is it better to go to VLS/L&C and graduate with only $30K-40K in loans, or to GULC/GW and graduate with almost $200K in loans? I don't want to be forced to take a high-paying BIGLAW job that I hate in order to pay off my loans.


This is sort of the toughest question out there--this isn't going to be particularly helpful, but it's ultimately up to you. How debt averse are you? Would you mind taking 20 years to pay off your debts? With a normal ngo salary, it really might take that long.

Also--would you consider government work? The government tends to pay much better than NGOs (and given a bit of time, 200,000 dollars worth of debt wouldn't be too bad--I've seen positions advertised that pay over 100,000 and require something like 5 years of experience).

I haven't looked much into either of those schools, but you might want to look into GULC/GW's LRAPs, I would be surprised if they didn't have anything! Sometimes LRAP's aren't tons of help, but at least they'll keep you from getting totally crushed by debt.

As a final comment, about a year ago I talked with a young (<30) lawyer with the NRDC. I with I could remember what law school he went to (I'm really tempted to say it was Georgetown), but he always wanted to be an environmental lawyer, but worked for a big firm for 2 or 3 years to pay back debts, then switched. It's not an ideal solution, but if you went the more expensive route, it would be a way to get rid of your debt pretty quickly.

Not sure if that's helpful, but at least it's food for thought!

hedgehog28
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby hedgehog28 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:08 am

novagirl wrote:I know this has already (sort of) been addressed here, but

I want to work for a non-profit or the government doing environmental law/policy. I don't expect to make a lot of money doing this. Is it better to go to VLS/L&C and graduate with only $30K-40K in loans, or to GULC/GW and graduate with almost $200K in loans? I don't want to be forced to take a high-paying BIGLAW job that I hate in order to pay off my loans.



Again, I would say Gtown in a heartbeat.

1) getting a non-profit job is incredibly competitive, and government can be pretty competitive too.
2) Going to a school with a good LRAP is better than going to a school with something of a scholarship. I don't intend to pay back any of my loans :-)

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sarlis
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby sarlis » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:08 am

bookmarked

hedgehog28
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby hedgehog28 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:14 am

Here are details about Georgetown's new LRAP:

Georgetown Law Center’s New Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP III - for new 2010 participants)

Georgetown Law’s faculty approved a plan that will enable graduates who work in the public sector for 10 years – and earn up to $75,000 a year – to have all of their law school loans forgiven. Georgetown Law’s new version of its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP III) dovetails with the federal government’s new Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which became fully effective this year.

As a result of the two programs, Georgetown Law students who work for U.S.-based government agencies or nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations for 10 years after graduation in a legally related capacity (JD degree must be preferred or required), and whose incomes remain less than $75,000, can borrow the entire cost of attending law school in the form of federally-guaranteed loans and have all of their loan repayments reimbursed by Georgetown Law and the remaining principal balance forgiven by the federal government. Georgetown Law benefits would continue on a diminishing basis for incomes exceeding $75,000.

Under the new federal law, federally-guaranteed loans can be repaid, after graduation, through a new income-based repayment plan that generally limits repayment to approximately 10% of the borrower’s annual income. At the end of 10 years of public service, the federal government will forgive the remaining balance.

The Georgetown Law faculty decided that the Law Center will reimburse out-of-pocket repayments for its graduates in eligible public service, effectively ending loan repayments for those who spend 10 years working in modestly paid public interest fields. Current students and those entering the program in 2010 will receive the full benefit of this plan.

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kumba84
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Re: T14 worth it for environmental law?

Postby kumba84 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:17 am

hedgehog28 wrote:Here are details about Georgetown's new LRAP:

Georgetown Law Center’s New Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP III - for new 2010 participants)

Georgetown Law’s faculty approved a plan that will enable graduates who work in the public sector for 10 years – and earn up to $75,000 a year – to have all of their law school loans forgiven. Georgetown Law’s new version of its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP III) dovetails with the federal government’s new Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which became fully effective this year.

As a result of the two programs, Georgetown Law students who work for U.S.-based government agencies or nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations for 10 years after graduation in a legally related capacity (JD degree must be preferred or required), and whose incomes remain less than $75,000, can borrow the entire cost of attending law school in the form of federally-guaranteed loans and have all of their loan repayments reimbursed by Georgetown Law and the remaining principal balance forgiven by the federal government. Georgetown Law benefits would continue on a diminishing basis for incomes exceeding $75,000.

Under the new federal law, federally-guaranteed loans can be repaid, after graduation, through a new income-based repayment plan that generally limits repayment to approximately 10% of the borrower’s annual income. At the end of 10 years of public service, the federal government will forgive the remaining balance.

The Georgetown Law faculty decided that the Law Center will reimburse out-of-pocket repayments for its graduates in eligible public service, effectively ending loan repayments for those who spend 10 years working in modestly paid public interest fields. Current students and those entering the program in 2010 will receive the full benefit of this plan.


Wow. I suddenly care whether GULC is going to accept me after more than a month under review. I was pretty happy with my NYU and Boalt acceptances, but this is an amazing LRAP.




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