During Mr. Bowman's pusuit of higher education and struggles to pass the bar exam he unfortunately ignored his student loan obligations. Over the course of four years his outstanding debt went from a high (but not unheard of) $270,000 to $435,000 due to charges and fees from various collection agencies.
All his life, Robert Bowman wanted to be a lawyer. He overcame a troubled
childhood, a tragic accident that nearly cost him a leg and a debilitating Jet
He put himself through community college, worked and borrowed heavily to
help pay for college, graduate school and even law school. He took the New York
bar examination not once, not twice, not three times, but four, passing it last
year. Finally, he seemed to be on his way.
In January, the committee of New York lawyers that reviews applications for
admission to the bar interviewed Mr. Bowman, studied his history and the debt he
had amassed, and called his persistence remarkable. It recommended his
But a group of five state appellate judges decided this spring that his student loans were too big and his efforts to repay them
too meager for him to be a lawyer.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Too Much Student Debt = No Law License?
This article from the New York Times is really alarming. New York judges have denied one man's admission to practice law in New York State because of his outstanding student loan debt. From the article:
While I can see the argument that this man seemingly kept getting degree after degree without thinking of the consequences his mounting debt would have (he admits he has never made a single student loan payment) and then went four years without getting in touch with his lenders, I think the punishment of denying him admission to the bar is outrageous. How is he ever supposed to pay back his loans now if he can't even make a living?
I learned the hard way what happens to you if you try to run away from your student loan debt and wind up in default (granted for 1/20th of the amount that Mr. Bowman did) so I can definitely sympathize for what he must be going through. But to work so hard pulling himself out of homelessness and two life-threatening accidents to finally passing the bar exam just to be denied a chance at his dream of becoming a lawyer just doesn't seem fair to me at all.
Mr. Bowman is appealing his decision and I really hope things turn around for him.