Wooster33 wrote:To Vanwinkle, if you are going to say statements I made are "ridiculously false," you really should explain why. You think legal aid is sophisticated work requiring first-rate minds? You disagree that PI orgs like the ACLU had trouble recruiting first-rate minds in the absence of IBR? Please, enlighten me.
Yes, legal aid is often sophisticated work, and who are you to judge whether or not people deserve high-quality representation or not? I agree that high-profile groups like the ACLU can typically attract lawyers willing to work there, but you very unfairly use a bright dividing line between groups like the ACLU which do heavy work but have a lot of prestige, and non-prestigious organizations which don't do work demanding any kind of real talent on the part of the attorneys involved. This bright line you would have people accept simply does not exist
in the real world.
For every organization like the ACLU, there are a hundred low-profile organizations that provide necessary legal aid services but aren't seen as prestigious or affording of prominent advancement opportunity or other economic self-interests. Many of these organizations do
need equivalent counsel, because 1) so much of the law is adversarial, and 2) even in non-adversarial, transactional environments, it still takes highly competent and skilled counsel to be able to properly traverse the intricacies of the law. Even for situations where you refer to something as being "routine", like child custody, that's something that makes an enormous
role in the person needing PI assitance--it's the life of their child and what if any role they get to keep in it
--and given that child custody disputes are highly adversarial in nature, having less qualified and less effective counsel does often harm the indigent person being represented in ways that severely impact their lives. Given that, yes, these organizations do
need "top talent" just as much as the guy on the other side who can afford a "top talent" attorney does. The fact that they don't have the economic resources to hire such "top talent" doesn't change the fact that it can be necessary for judicial fairness.
These organizations do not have the resources to pay enough to both
compensate for the high debt resulting in acquiring a legal education and
reasonable living expenses, let alone to compensate high enough to compete with the corporate firms and private representation they are often facing off against. Since this is an adversarial legal system, it's important for both sides to have somewhere close to even legal footing, and IBR as applied to PI lawyers at least helps restore that footing somewhat, even if it doesn't attempt to fully correct it through more extreme measures such as, say, the government attempting to salary-match these people.
Since the law should not be in a position to discriminate between specific organizations, there are two choices: Offer IBR broadly to people working at all PI organizations, even the ACLU, or offer none. Offering none on the basis that organizations like the ACLU could find adequate representation anyway is disproportionate, because you negatively impact many times the number of organizations you assume are able to function well on their own. Besides that, this does still help the ACLU, because there's a factor you're not really considering well in your equation, which is that the most willing
people are often not the same thing as the best
people for a job. The fact that any
PI organization has lawyers willing to work there for the pittance salaries they pay doesn't mean that the representation there is sufficient, it just means that it's there.
Again, IBR is a less strong remedy than mandated salary increases funded by the government, which is what it would take to truly economically equalize legal representation between PI and private employers. You continue to confuse moral benefit with economic benefit; while there is a moral benefit from individuals to be gained by working for PI, the fact that they have to do so at such a significant economic disadvantage does affect the supply of such people, especially in a reality where high student loans plus incredibly low wages creates a scenario where even those who would gain a high moral satisfaction from doing a job are completely foreclosed from it economically, which is the reality of many PI jobs today.
IBR mitigates that sufficiently, and it does so on a sliding scale; the more money you make in your PI job, the more money you pay back. Since the federal gov't pays better than many PI orgs, this means people who work for the DOJ (for example) still pay back more than people in other PI organizations. Looking at the starting and ramping pay of people in the DOJ, and understanding that pay varies by locality so the answer can differ depending on where someone works and how fast they get promoted, it seems that someone who worked for the DOJ for 10 years would end up paying back half or more of their loan principal on $180K in loans.
As a result IBR provides less benefit for the more prestigious jobs which often tend to pay more, and more benefit for the less prestigious jobs which pay so little that living with any kind of debt is unworkable. This would continue to be true even if tuition dropped substantially; imagining someone paying only half of current typical tuition, or $20K/yr, would still result in over $120K in total student loans for 3 years of tuition and COL expenses. That's still an incredibly heavy burden for someone taking a $40K/yr job, one that's too heavy to be overcome by sheer will or moral benefit without some kind of assistance. And yet, that kind of education is necessary
to do the job; you can't do legal work for indigent clients or other clients in need unless you get the law degree.
Because IBR begins to cancel itself out and cause more capital repayment as as pay rises, and because even significantly cutting tuition would not be sufficient to accomplish the economic balancing necessary, IBR does seem to be the most workable solution in providing additional economic benefit to help ensure that these PI organizations maintain a supply of not just the most willing
talent, but of the capable
talent that they need to be useful in the adversarial system that we have in this country.