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3L for “free” March 24, 2008

Posted by AP in econ, legal, news.
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the new york times reports that:

Concerned by the low numbers of law students choosing careers in public service, Harvard Law School plans to waive tuition for third-year students who pledge to spend five years working either for nonprofit organizations or the government.

The program, to be announced Tuesday, would save students more than $40,000 in tuition…

what the article does not mention is whether students must serve their five years immediately following graduation/passing the bar. i assume it does, but also think that the scheme would make more sense without a time limit. why not allow recent graduates to make partner first, then transition into public interest work?

economically, foregoing five years’ salary at Whiteman & Douche LLP for a $40k waiver is a pretty dumb decision – think of the compound interest you’d be missing out on. by the time burnout from corporate law firms sets in, however, slower-paced public interest work may become more appealing.

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Comments»

1. Ajay - March 25, 2008

well sure, if you made career decisions based solely on salary. I think the point of this, though, is to lower students’ debt burdens so that working for the government becomes feasible where it might not otherwise have been – it wasn’t designed (nor should it have been) to completely compensate students for choosing an alternate career track.

2. AP - March 26, 2008

do you really think there’s that much of a difference between being $80k and $120k in debt? based on your logic, i don’t think the waiver would have much marginal impact on students deciding to do public interest work (which is the goal of this program).

those who want to do public interest work will do public interest work. $40k just doesn’t seem large enough to entice others away from corporate jobs into public interest. i would certainly agree with you if the tradeoff was $0 and $120k of debt, however…


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