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Your School Debt is Forever; Indiana Gets Cash Cow; Cleveland-Marshall Cuts Class by 30 Percent

Vivia Chen

May 24, 2012

Here's the latest roundup of law school news:

©olly-Fotolia.com1. Another reason to drop law school as a career option. If you can't find a decent-paying job and you're shouldering a burdensome debt from law school, filing bankruptcy wouldn't help either. That's because student debt must be repaid under federal bankruptcy law, unlike credit card debt and other loans, reports The National Law Journal's Leigh Jones.

The only way bankruptcy court will discharge your school debt is if your circumstances pass the tough "undue burden" standard, such as having a severe disability like Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

The NLJ reports that Carol Todd, a former student at the University of Baltimore School of Law, was released from her $340,000 in education debt "because her diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome rendered her unable to repay the loans."

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gordon noted in his opinion that Todd "folded into a fearful shell" during her testimony.  "[T]o expect Ms. Todd to ever break the grip of autism and meaningfully channel her energies toward tasks that are not in some way either dictated, or circumscribed, by the demands of her disorder would be to dream the impossible dream," he wrote.

Todd's case illustrates just how hard it is to get out of paying student loans. Todd's lawyer Frank Turney told the NLJ: "You hardly find a student loan debt case where the debts are discharged. This situation had a client who had some serious disabilities."

Cow©Dudarev_Mikhail-Fotolia.com2. Indiana gets a new cash cow. Yes, we know the legal market is shrinking, and law grads are now begging for jobs—but, hey, are those reasons to stop opening new law schools? Apparently not, judging by all the new schools popping up across the land.

And now there's one opening in the Heartland: Indiana Tech just broke ground on its new law school. The National Law Journal reports that it "will be the fifth law school in the state and the seventh within a three-hour drive of Fort Wayne." According to the school's feasibility study, Indiana could use more lawyers.

Now I get it: There should be a law school within a three-hour drive of any metropolis comparable to Fort Wayne! I mean, what else would folks do with themselves?

3. Meanwhile, there's hope in Cleveland. We don't want to end this post on a negative note, so here's the good news: Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is joining the list of "rational" law schools that are cutting enrollment. The school's dean, Craig Boise, just announced that the school is cutting its incoming class by an impressive 30 percent! That's even more than UC-Hasting Law School, which recently announced a 20 percent reduction in its incoming class.

So let the contest begin! Let's see which other law schools will join this illustrious list of class-size reducers. Remember, the school that makes the deepest cut in enrollment wins.


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Another law school in Ft. Wayne Indiana? Maybe they read about the decision in MD Bankruptcy court discharging over 346k of student loan debt b/c Attorney with Asperger's couldn't obtain employment (one would think that with the diversity push, Asperger's would be a positive in this kill or be killed job search environment). There are too many lawyers and too many of them are not very good. Reduce the class size, but the ABA should be rigorous about de-accrediting poor law schools whose graduates can't obtain jobs.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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