Category Archives: Education

Ohio Law Student Not Qualified To Be Atty If Debts Not Paid, Supreme Court Rules

According to an ABA Journal article, Ohio’s highest court has ruled law grad Hassan Jonathan Griffin of Columbus, Ohio failed to satisfy the “character and fitness qualification” requirements to be an attorney because he had no visible means to pay back his law school loans or credit card debt.  Mr. Griffin works part-time in the public defender’s office, earning $12/hour.  He has $170,000 in loan debt and $16,500 in credit card debt.  Griffin provided information that he was remaining at his part-time job in the hopes that it would become a full-time position

To the Ohio Supreme Court, these facts rendered Griffin unfit to practice law based on low moral character.  The opinion is downloaded to the Box for those who wish to review it.

Frankly, and I agree with the ABA writers, this decision is outrageous!  In my opinion, this young man is being penalized for a legal education system that yokes its students with back-breaking student loan debt, often well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The fact that Griffin is working – whether part-time or full-time – in a public interest career ought to be encouraged, not be grounds for punishment or banishment.  In fact, it is not at all unusual – instead, quite typical – for public interest jobs to be less than full-time at first, often working into more stable situations for those graduates that are able to stick it out.  In the present economy, Griffin is not doing anything extraordinary – certainly not immoral – when you consider the many articles recommending volunteer work as a means to land a full-time job.

If Mr. Griffin has any further avenues available to him to pursue this matter, this author strongly encourages him to do so against what is truly an inequitable decision, one with far-reaching implications.  For example, what if Mr. Griffin – like me – wanted to go directly into his own solo law practice, but lacked any clients at first.  Would that evidence insufficient morals to practice law?  If so, then can only the super rich, or super lucky, practice law in Ohio?

 

 

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Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Discharge Of Student Loan Debt

In a surprising decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, in United Student Aids Funds v. Espinosa, that a student may discharge the interest on their student loan debt, even though the student did not allege “undue hardship” if required to repay the loans.  When the student, Francisco Espinosa, sought bankruptcy protection and submitted his plan to the bankruptcy court judge, the student loan creditor, United Student Aids Funds, did not object.  Instead, the creditor later sought to void the plan under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4).

Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Thomas stated, “Rule 60(b)(4) does not provide a license for litigants to sleep on their rights…Where, as here, a party is notified of a plan’s contents and fails to object to confirmation of the plan before the time for appeal expires, that party has been afforded a full and fair opportunity to litigate, and the party’s failure to avail itself of that opportunity will not justify Rule 60(b)(4) relief.”

As a general rule, student loans are considered non-dischargeable in the absence of proof of undue hardship to the debtor if required to repay the loans.  Will this ruling by the Supreme Court breathe new life into the question of student loan dischargeability?  That remains to be seen.  It certainly gives more than a faint glimmer of hope in an area of bankruptcy law that many students and graduates have argued should be subject to at least partial dischargeability.

For further information on the procedural history of this important new case, you may check out these links to the ABA here and here.  You may also refer to the SCOTUS blog here.  I have also placed a PDF of the Espinosa decision in the Box for downloading.

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Judge orders UC to repay $38 million in student fees – Inside Bay Area

Judge orders UC to repay $38 million in student fees – Inside Bay Area.

Very interesting article about the outcome of lawsuit against UC for fee hikes in certain programs.  My opinion is that the Judge is right on the mark here.  What do you think?

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