Lawyer With Student Loan Debt in Excess of $500,000 Not Fit to Practice Law

An interesting case from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York was handed down this week, where the Court overturned the State Bar Association’s admission of a lawyer, who remained unnamed in the judgment.

Decided and Entered: November 29, 2018
_______________________________
In the Matter of ANONYMOUS, an
Applicant for Admission to
Practice as an Attorney and
Counselor at Law.
_______________________________
D-147-18

This anonymous lawyer graduated from a Wisconsin law school in 2009 and had practiced law full-time for five years prior to his application to be admitted to the New York bar.

The Court noted that the lawyer had filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and escaped approximately $27,000 in debt, but his student loan debt of $37,000 survived the bankruptcy. At the time of his current application to the New York bar he admitted to student loans and private debt of $580,000 against payments of $2,700 since 1995.

The Court confirmed the lawyer’s burden of demonstrating his fitness and general character to practice law and determined that while the amount of the debt was concerning, it was his cavalier attitude and indifference to the situation that caused them to deny admission to practice law.

This was the lawyer’s second kick at the can as he had brought an earlier application for admission to the bar in 2009 which was also refused by the appeal court. In 2009 his debt load was $480,000 and the court highlighted his recalcitrance in dealing with his creditors.

We don’t know from the judgment how many university degrees the lawyer attained or how he could possibly acquire such an extreme amount of student loan debt, but I speculate that he was supporting himself on student loans over a lengthy period of time.

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