U. of Chicago Law’s Kickarse New LRAP Program

Nice skyline, Chicago. Cubs still stink.

The PSLawNet Blog intended to cover this announcement out of the Windy City several days ago, but we succumbed to the flu last week.  So, better late than never…

From a March 11 announcement:

The University of Chicago Law School today announced a complete redesign of its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), making it the most generous program of its kind. The three most important changes to the program are that it now offers the opportunity for any graduate staying in public interest for ten years to go to law school for free, that all graduates who serve as judicial clerks will be eligible for the program, and that a generous $80,000 salary cap will make the program more inclusive than ever.

Hah – the law school’s communications department chose to refer to the new LRAP program as “dramatic.”  We’ve never thought of LRAPs as involving much drama.  That said, we describe the program as “kickarse,” so perhaps we shouldn’t appoint ourselves the modifier police.

We digress.  Here’s a voice of approval of Chicago Law’s new LRAP, emanating from North-side rival Northwestern Law.  Northwestern adjunct professor Steven Harper, an observer of legal industry goings-on, writes in The American Lawyer:

When law schools get it wrong, they deserve the scorn that comes with a public spotlight. When they get it right, they should bask in its warm glow. The University of Chicago Law School recently got it right. Really right.

A single line from the school’s website description says it all: “This means that a graduate who engages in qualifying work for ten years, earns less than the salary cap, and maintains enrollment in the federal Income-Based Repayment Program, will receive a FREE University of Chicago Law School education!

“Qualifying work” is public interest broadly defined as “the full-time practice of law, or in a position normally requiring a law degree, in a nonprofit organization or government office, other than legal academia.” It includes judicial clerkships.

The “salary cap” is $80,000 and doesn’t include spousal income. That combination seems to beat Harvard, Yale and Stanford. (Caveat: The differences across school programs can be significant and prospective students should consider their own circumstances, run the numbers, and determine which one produces the best individual result.)

Huzzah, U. of Chicago!

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