Public service lawyers applaud student loan forgiveness bill -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Public service lawyers applaud student loan forgiveness bill

September 12, 2007

Albany -- New legislation that would forgive student loans for prosecutors, public defenders, and legal aid attorneys has been approved by the House and the Senate.

Prosecutors say it will greatly improve the quality of attorneys who go into in public service. Kimberley Westley is an Assistant D-A with the Dougherty District Attorney's office. She still owes about $70,000 in student loans.

 Under the new law, some of that debt would be forgiven for her work in the prosecutor's office. Westley says many young lawyers don't go into public service jobs because they owe so much money and can make more in private practice. Westley said "I think there is going to be a big influx of new law students that are just graduating from law school to come into the public service field."

District Attorney Ken Hodges said "typically an assistant D.A. Here starts in the upper 40's to low 50's. Where as they can go to Atlanta and make twice or even three times that in the private sector."

Westley says this loan forgiveness program would keep her working in the D-A's office.

The President is expected to sign the bill into law.