January 21, 2011
Ohio Supreme Court Says Too Much Debt Is a Character and Fitness Issue
Did you hear the one about the Ohio Supreme Court denying a law graduate's bar application because he didn't have a plan to pay back his school debt, some $170,000? That amount included $20,000 of undergraduate cash and $16,500 in unsecured credit card charges. The debts of the student, Hassan Jonathan Griffin, called into question the character and fitness portion of the bar application.
The Ohio Supreme Court opinion concerning his application notes he has contemplated bankruptcy which would have affected the credit card debt but not the student loans. The Court states that Griffin is in default on his obligations. What gets me is this statements from the opinion:
We accept the board’s findings of fact and conclude that the applicant has neglected his personal financial obligations by electing to maintain his part-time employment with the Public Defender’s Office in the hope that it will lead to a full-time position upon passage of the bar exam, rather than seeking full-time employment, which he acknowledges would give him a better opportunity to pay his obligations and possibly qualify him for an additional deferment of his student-loan obligation.
I can understand making sure applicants are responsible about financial obligations. There is no doubt that Griffin's debt load is large. Then again, it's possible that other students will carry large debt loads and just scrape by. Griffin's approach to finding a job is consistent with a lot of internships and other techniques students use to ingratiate themselves with prospective employers. It seems the court is saying to Griffin that he owes too much to try a public service career. At least yet. He will be allowed to apply for the next bar if he shows progress on his debt. Would he do any better with a $50,000 contract job reviewing documents? What kind of career is that going to lead him to? Memo to law grads, make sure you're job prospects match your debt load or you might not be allowed in the club. Here's a trick question: how many lawyers were kicked out of the bar because they defaulted on a loan or declared bankruptcy? ABC News has more coverage. [MG]
This reminds me of the "LSAT Applications are Down" article. I spoke of a woman concerned with her daughter's loan debt of 120,000. I was told by a lawyer, to try another field because the world is flooded with lawyers... It will be hard to find a decent firm to join. This is alarming, because they are so many students graduating with a heavy debt load; this is happening all across the board. I wonder if other organizations will look to this hiring process?
Posted by: Dindi | Feb 6, 2011 4:57:26 PM