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LRAP Reaches Record Level

alumni, school get behind public service initiatives

Boston College Law School’s commitment to loan repayment assistance for graduates pursuing public interest careers will reach a record level this year.

In December, the scholarship committee awarded more than $180,000 in loan repayment assistance to new and recent alumni who are currently practicing public interest law. A total of fifty-three alums received awards, ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.

The Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) has seen significant increases over the past few years. Last year, the total awarded was $170,230 to forty-nine recipients; in 2000, it was $91,250 to twenty-one recipients.

The increase in the LRAP program can be attributed to the generosity of alumni who have given to the Law School Fund this year. The Fund is up significantly over last year, with the most apparent difference credited to reunion giving.

The types of public interest law represented run the spectrum, from the Youth Advocacy Project to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Fourteen recipients work for legal service organizations, twenty-three for district attorney offices, and the remainder as public defenders. Qualifying incomes of recipients with no dependents range from $30,000 to  $56,000. The lowest debt for anyone in the program is $25,500; the highest is about $160,000. Participants are eligible to remain in the LRAP program until their income in public sector employment exceeds $58,000. Numerous recipients have been in the program for five years or more.

In related news, a named endowment fund for LRAP was established by Judge Peggy Leen in honor of her husband, Tom ’66, also a judge, who devoted his life to public service and who passed away last year. “Tom was always grateful for the financial assistance he received,” said Leen. “He felt it was important to give something back.”

Also new are several campus initiatives to engage students more fully in pro bono and public interest activities, the result of a committee’s recent findings about how to improve such opportunities. 

For the first time, incoming 1Ls received a letter in their orientation packet from American Bar Association President Mike Greco ’72 stressing the value of public interest work as part of a legal education and career. Signaling the level of student interest in the subject, demand to attend a first weekend retreat, titled “Using Law as a Tool for Social Change,” was so great only half the students were able to get in.

The Law School held its first Pro Bono Day this spring. It featured a panel of professionals from the public interest sector, followed by a fair at which a dozen organizations presented volunteer opportunities. Efforts to encourage more public interest employers to recruit on campus are also underway.

Ideally, says Norah Wylie, associate dean for students and a member of the pro bono committee, the group will continue to look for novel ways to support public interest work. “There’s a lot to do, but we’ve made great progress,” she says. “We want to plant seeds for the future.”

 

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