Managing Student Loan Debt: Getting Started

By: Ashley Matthews

Congratulations, law school grads – you did it! After 3 years of casebooks, study groups, outlines, and hornbooks, it’s finally over.

But now, it’s the moment we’ve all been dreading/ignoring: student loan repayment. As the end of the grace period creeps onto our calendars, now is the best time to prepare. It’s no secret that student loan debt can hurt your economic status in a major way. And on a public interest salary, repaying student loans can be downright crippling. (Just ask a few of the lawyers recently profiled by the Philadelphia Inquirer – one of whom was forced by debt to move back home with parents at the tender age of 49.)

The good news is that you are not alone. Student loan expert Heather Jarvis, a former public interest attorney, is committed to reducing the financial barriers to practicing our favorite kind of law here at PSLawNet.  So before you have a severe panic attack at the thought of being shackled to your loans forever, take a look at these pointers from a recent blog post Jarvis wrote about taking the first baby steps to deal with our giant loans:

1. “Figure out which loans you have.” Sounds simple, right? Maybe for some, but many law students have multiple loans from different lenders. Some loans may even come from private lenders.

2. “Decide which consolidation works for you.” Loan consolidation is key to Public Interest Loan Forgiveness. If you have a FFEL loan, things may get a bit tricky.

3. “Choose a repayment plan.” This sounds simple too, right? Once again, it may be for some people – but for others, crafting the right plan involves weighing multiple options.

For more important information and links, check out the full blog post at Jarvis’ website, This site is a wealth of information about student loans, so it would be smart to educate yourself well before you walk across the stage at law school graduation. The better prepared we are to handle student loan debt, the more we are able to commit ourselves to what matters most: using our law degree to help others in need.

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Job o’ the Day: Legal Intern with Vera Institute of Justice in New York City!

Are you a law student that is committed to advancing prisoners’ rights? Do you stay up to date on the latest news and developments in criminal justice reform and policy? If so, then this position may be perfect for you.

The Vera Institute of Justice is searching for legal interns within its Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC), which works with state and local partners to help them develop cost-effective strategies for protecting public safety.

The CSC also provides government officials and criminal justice professionals with technical assistance and research support.

From the Vera Institute of Justice:

This is an extraordinary opportunity for a motivated student to join a dynamic and innovative staff. The intern will work closely with program and research staff on a variety of projects, which may include justice reinvestment projects in several states, a national project aimed at increasing the availability of post-secondary education to correctional populations, a project focusing on bringing American and European policymakers together to discuss successful correctional policies, and reports on sentencing policies.

If you’re interested in apply, view the full listing at!


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Upcoming 2L Government Honors & Internship Deadlines! (Log-In Required)

If you are a 2L looking to work for the government this summer, then this post is for you! The following government programs have 2L deadlines coming up in the next few weeks:


  • Federal Communications Commission – Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Student internship Program (Unpaid, Deadline 08/31/12)
  • City of Houston Legal Department – Student Externships (Unpaid, Deadline 08/31/12)
  • Illinois Attorney General’s Office – Law Clerk Program (Unpaid, Deadline 09/01/12)
  • Department of Commerce – Office of General Counsel Legal Internship Program (Paid & Unpaid, Deadline 09/15/12)


  • Department of the Interior – Office of the Solicitor legal Internship/Externship Program (Unpaid, Deadline 09/01/12)
  • Office of the District Attorney Denver, CO – Legal Internship Program (Unpaid, Deadline not yet established was 09/06/11)
  • Executive Office of the President – Council on Environmental Quality Legal Clerkship Program (Unpaid, Deadline 09/07/12)


  • Environmental Protection Agency – Office of General Counsel Summer Honors Program (Paid, Deadline 08/24/12)
  • Environmental Protection Agency – Region 9 Volunteer Intern Program (Unpaid, Deadline early Sept.)
  • Government Accountability Office – Office of General Counsel Summer Associate Program (Paid, Deadline 09/01/12)
  • Department of State – Office of the Legal Advisor (Civil) Summer Intern Program (Unpaid, Deadline 09/01/12)
  • U.S. Dept. of Justice – Summer Law Intern Program (Paid, Deadline 09/04/12)
  • Federal Trade Commission – Bureau of Consumer Protection 2013 Summer Law Clerk Program (Paid & Unpaid, Deadline 09/14/12)
  • Central Intelligence Agency – Office of General Counsel Summer Law Clerk Program (Paid & Unpaid, Deadline 09/15/12)
  • Environmental Protection Agency – R7 Summer Legal Intern Program (Paid, Deadline 09/15/12)
  • Federal Trade Commission – Bureau of Competition Intern Program (Paid, Deadline 09/15/12)
  • Department of Health & Human Services – Office of Counsel to the Inspector General Summer Law Clerk Program (Paid, Deadline not yet established was 09/16/11)

For more information on these listings and more, check out The University of Arizona College of Law’s 2012-2013 Government Honors & Internship Handbook. Please note that the Handbook is available to subscribers only. Don’t worry, though – most law schools are already subscribed. Just talk to your Career Services counselor for your school’s username and password.

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Job o’ the Day: Paid Research & Policy Internship with Break the Cycle in Washington, D.C.!

Break the Cycle is a national nonprofit organization working to engage, educate, and empower youth to build lives and communities free from dating and domestic violence. To help them with their mission, they are now looking for a Research & Policy Intern to join the team!

The Research and Policy Intern will:

  • Research and analyze state and local laws related to dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
  • Contribute to the development of written products to assist schools and community-based organizations improve their response to young survivors of abuse.
  • Examine and categorize relevant studies to support the work of the Training and Policy Departments.
  • Write content for the Break the Cycle website.
  • Assist with other with other tasks as needed.

To learn more about the position, check out the full description at!

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Big News: PSLawNet’s Becoming PSJD! We’re Getting a New Name, New Website & Everything!

By: Steve Grumm

We’ve got great news for law students and lawyers on public interest career paths, as well as the organizations that hire them.  On August 27th, PSLawNet will become PSJD, a redesigned website that retains all of PSLawNet’s content but that adds easier navigation, enhanced searching, and new tools for job-seekers and employers alike.  PSLawNet users will be able to log in to PSJD with existing PSLawNet login credentials, and our job-seeker “email alerts” will continue uninterrupted.  We at NALP (who administer the PSLawNet/PSJD site) are very happy to launch this next-generation career center as a free resource for the public interest legal community.  As of August 27 PSJD will be found at (not live yet).   

For blog readers, this means that we’ll be moving to (not live yet).  But this blog URL will redirect you as well. 

For more information contact me at, or PSLawNet PSJD Fellow Ashley Matthews at  You may also reach us at 202.296.0076.

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Should We Narrow the Definition of Lawyer Pro Bono? Will That Lead to More Poor People Being Served?

By: Steve Grumm

Environmental stewardship is important.  It’s also great to provide legal work that supports the arts.  Who doesn’t want to support the arts?  But by including such activities in how we – the legal community – define pro bono, are we lessening the odds that pro bono lawyers will take on poverty law cases and provide direct legal assistance to poor people?  A recent Pro Bono Institute report shows that law-firm pro bono on poverty-law matters is down. 

The Institute’s Esther Lardent weighs in on the question, and decides that narrowing “pro bono’s” definition will not lead to more/better work on behalf of low-income clients.  Writing in the National Law Journal, Lardent argues:

Whatever the reason for the downturn, would a definition of pro bono limited to legal services for the poor solve the problem and result in more low-income clients served? I believe it would not. Lawyers make a pro bono commitment for many reasons, but one major impetus for many is a personal commitment to a particular legal problem or client demographic. Lawyers who are passionate about international human rights and the rule of law, protecting civil liberties or ensuring a sustainable environment for future generations understandably want to use their skills to pursue their passion. Business lawyers who are averse to litigation are unlikely to take on adversarial matters on a pro bono basis when they would not do so for paying clients. The reality is that choosing pro bono work is often a matter of blending personal interest with client need. Restricting personal choices will not increase poverty law pro bono. It is, rather, far more likely to reduce the total amount of pro bono and the percentage of lawyers who undertake it.

Our goal should be to educate lawyers about the unparalleled need for legal services to the poor. We should put, as our Pro Bono Challenge and American Bar Association Model Rule 6.1 do, a special emphasis on poverty law pro bono (which led to 58 percent of total Challenge law firm hours devoted to pro bono focused on poverty), and review and revamp the processes for referring, accepting and handling pro bono matters for the poor to make them more appealing and more efficiently undertaken.

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Job o’ the Day! Law Clerk with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL!

The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Southern District of Florida is currently accepting applications for spring law clerks!

The USAO is responsible for investigating and prosecuting federal crimes and representing the United States in civil matters in the district. The office also represents the United States in appeals before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Interns are assigned to one section within the Civil or Criminal Divisions of the office for the duration of the semester. Within their respective sections, the law clerks receive a variety of assignments and have the opportunity to work with numerous AUSAs. The goal of the Office is to introduce interns to the federal legal system, to develop and refine their legal research and writing skill, and above all to make their time at the office enjoyable and worthwhile.

The USAO for the Southern District of Florida is accepting applications until September 15, 2012. For more information, check out the job listing at

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