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Legal Education and Community Service

WHEREAS, in our legal community, there is an under-representation of blacks in public service, prosecution and public defender positions; and

WHEREAS, much of the shortfall can be attributed to recent jurist doctorate graduates having to rush into private practice after fulfilling their bar requirements in order to pay off student loans and other financial obligations incurred while in law school; and

WHEREAS, the debt load for law degrees can exceed $300,000 when other family maintenance costs are considered for the cost of a legal education; and

WHEREAS, entry level positions in prosecution and public defender roles provide excellent developmental opportunities for graduates in pursuit of careers in the legal field, although these positions are more often less financially lucrative compared to private practice positions; and

WHEREAS, a loan forgiveness provision for entry level lawyers who agree to serve a period of time upon graduation in the prosecutor's office and as public defenders could serve as an excellent incentive for entry-level lawyers as they become solidly based with a great background of experience.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP support legislation that provides forgiveness for student loans for new lawyers who enter public service through such offices as legal aid societies, state and federal prosecutors offices and public defenders offices for a minimum of four years of their early career.