Law School encourages public service
Virginia to benefit from loan forgiveness program
School Dean John C. Jeffries Jr. said he hopes the new programs
will foster the Universitys reputation as a leader
in the world of public service law.
students interested in public service will be better able to pursue
that cause, thanks to two new programs at the School
of Law: the new Powell Fellowship and a revamped loan forgiveness
students enter the Law School with a public service career in
mind, but for various reasons not the least of which is
the high cost of paying back student loans decide that
taking a low-paying job after graduation isnt an option,
said Law School Dean John C. Jeffries Jr.
is known as a good place to train for Wall Street law, but its
not as well known as a center of public interest law and public
service, a field in which we have an excellent national reputation,
Jeffries said. We feel that we should encourage people who
want to devote themselves to public service, knowing they will
forgo considerable remuneration to do so.
organized the Powell Fellowship in collaboration with the children
of the late Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, friends of the
Powell family and Law School alumni. Beginning next spring, the
fellowship will be available to a graduating third-year student
who has taken a job in the public sector, or a former student
currently serving a judicial clerkship. The fellowship, the first
one of which will be offered each year, will provide a one-year
stipend of $35,000 plus health benefits, with the expectation
of renewal for a second year.
second initiative, the Virginia Loan Forgiveness Program, actually
replaces two older ones the Public Service Loan Assistance
Program, a loan deferral program for graduates working in public
service; and the Virginia Career Option Assistance Program, a
loan forgiveness program for graduates practicing law in one of
Virginias 20 poorest counties.
new program expands the older programs and streamlines the administration,
Jeffries said. Aid will come in the form of loan forgiveness,
rather than deferral. It will cover the loans of students who
choose careers in public service, as well as those who take private
sector jobs in Virginia, whether in an underserved area or not.
major law school has a program of debt forgiveness to encourage
students to pursue public service careers, Jeffries said.
But what is distinctive about our program is that we define
public service to include the practice of private sector law anywhere
in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
principle, all U.Va. Law School graduates practicing law in Virginia
qualify for the program. However, under the repayment scheme,
only those graduates with adjusted gross incomes of less than
$35,000 will receive 100 percent loan forgiveness, while those
earning between $35,000 and $60,000 will have partial forgiveness,
with payments declining as income increases. Graduates earning
more than $60,000 are not eligible for the program.
old programs were hard to understand and not used much,
Jeffries said. The new program has a more generous schedule
of benefits and is very simple.
goal is to encourage talented graduates to stay and practice in
Virginia, Jeffries said. To do this, the program meets not only
geographic needs, but also the states occupational needs.
The average compensation for private sector lawyers in Virginias
underserved rural areas about $40,000 is similar
to that offered in larger urban areas to lawyers practicing in
fields such as criminal defense, public defense, poverty law,
civil rights law, and those serving as public prosecutors.
define public service very broadly, including not only charitable
groups, but also government agencies, Jeffries said. We
believe that students applying to law school will see these programs
as evidence that U.Va. cares about public service. At the same
time, as a public institution, we will be helping the state.
subsidies show that we intend to be a leader in the world of public
service law as well as in private commerce, where most of our
students now go, Jeffries said. I hope there will
be a significant increase in the number of students who use this.