Loan Repayment Assistance

A Benefit for Public Service Practitioners

As a reflection of Gonzaga University School of Law’s humanistic, Jesuit, and Catholic nature, this Loan Repayment Assistance Program reflects the high value the school places on attorneys pursuing careers in public service.

Purpose

The purpose of this program is to provide loan repayment assistance to a select number of our graduates who are pursuing careers in public service. Applicants with outstanding law school student loans, both federal and commercial, are invited to apply to the program.

Gonzaga General Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)

The Gonzaga Loan Repayment Assistance Program is available for Gonzaga Law graduates working in public service across the country and around the world.

The program functions to provide selected graduates with loans of up to $4,000 a year to help meet the repayment of specified law school loans. If a graduate remains in qualifying public interest employment for at least one year after receipt of a loan under this program, the loan made by the law school will be forgiven. Graduates may apply annually for a total of five years of LRAP funding.

The John R. Clark Loan Repayment Program

The John R. Clark endowed Loan Repayment Assistance Program offers loan repayment for Spokane-area public defenders.

The program will provide recipients with a loan to help meet repayment of law school loans. If the recipient remains in public service for at least one year after receipt of the loan, it will be forgiven by the law school. Graduates may apply annually for the John R. Clark program.

Applicants that qualify under the requirements for both programs may apply for an be concurrently awarded loan repayment assistance through both programs.

These programs are administered by the dean’s office and by the law school faculty Scholarship Committee. Any awards made through this program are issued through the sole and unfettered discretion of the dean’s office and the Scholarship Committee. There is no obligation on the part of the law school to make any offer in any given year.

College Cost Reduction & Access Act

The College Cost Reduction & Access Act offers federal loan Income Based Repayment (IBR) and loan forgiveness for public service

In addition to Gonzaga’s LRAP, we strongly encourage low-income graduates concerned about loan repayment to review and consider enrolling in new federal programs that could substantially reduce their monthly loan payments. The federal Income Based Repayment (IBR) option and the Federal Loan Forgiveness Program were signed into law by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. These programs assist borrowers by limiting repayment amounts based on salary and family size, and forgiving federal loans for long-term public service employment. For more information, please visit these websites:

LRAP Recipients

Taylor S. Fielding knows what it means to bet on yourself. He tells law students, “Spoiler alert: They don’t teach you everything you need to know in law school; you gain confidence.”

A Change of Direction

While finishing his master’s thesis in anthropology and archaeology, Taylor discovered he enjoyed covering coursework that included federal law. The “Kennewick Man” case, Bonnichsen v. United States, was one of the first real-world applications that inspired Taylor to pursue a career in law. On top of his passion to learn more about the justice system, he knew that a career in law would also set himself up for a a multitude of career options beyond teaching.

Narrowing the Path

As a new grad, Taylor gravitated towards governmental agencies. Family members who also worked in state and federal government helped him gain exposure to the practice of law and nudged him to pursue his path. Taylor knew that choosing this career path might not be the most financially lucrative choice, but his deep interest in Native American and Federal Indian Law, cultural resource law, and criminal prosecution helped him overlook the nitty-gritty details and led him to pursue public interest law.

Reflecting and Looking Ahead

Taylor believes that in order to move forward, you must appreciate and reflect on how far you have come. He says you never quite know where you are going until you get there and admits he learned new things about himself during his time as a law student. Fifteen years from now, Taylor hopes to still enjoy working as an attorney, but also stresses the importance of being able to admit to himself if he feels his passion is fading. He knows that if he finds a new adventure outside of courtrooms and the law, that will be okay.

Gaining Confidence

Confidence was one of the biggest challenges Taylor tackled as a law student. He reflects back on times when he doubted himself and his potential, but remembers the moment where he decided to make it his mission to learn and become someone who people look towards as “a reliable source of knowledge.” He took pride in packing short answers with fuller, more reasoned responses to dive deeper into the depths of every question that was asked of him This desire for confidence made Taylor hungry to learn more and shaped him into the successful professional he is today.

Why GU Law

Taylor was encouraged to apply to Gonzaga Law School by alumnus Ron Nichols ('94), a close family friend from Ogden, Utah. He vividly remembers his first visit to Spokane, Washington - the skyline of the city and the basalt outcrops and pine trees that framed the I-90 highway. All of the views reminded Taylor of home and he immediately felt welcomed into the arms of Spokane and the Gonzaga Law School.

An Important Thought

One of Taylor’s life principles is all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. Taylor lives by the idea that we do not always have control over the forces that shape our path, so sometimes we just have to hang on and enjoy the ride.

 

A passion to work with and for others is what Adam Herd uses as a foundation in his practice of law. The most rewarding aspect of his work is when he gets to see the results of his profession play out in a positive way. 

The Early Stages

Adam has always loved problem solving and developing a solution to a complex issue that he is faced with. He chose to pursue a career as an attorney because he realized that people come to attorneys with a problem that needs solving. By becoming an attorney, he would be given the reins to help clients find the most beneficial and structured solution to their problems.

Pursuing a Career in Public Interest Law

As Adam began his legal career, he decided to capitalize on his interest in working in the public sector. He has always been a firm believer in the value of education and desired to be an advocate for students in the public education system. Adam soon discovered his love for a niche area of the law known as public procurement. He recognized that many people were unaware of the multiple state and federal laws that have been created to allocate the money spent by public entities. Adam decided to enter this sector of law based upon his desire to ensure public funds were used and distributed responsibly and ethically for all to benefit. In his current position. Adam uses legal training to ensure the Utah State Board of Education is complying with the law when spending taxpayer money. This feeds his passion of ensuring that the schools and institutions of Utah are given the resources they need to help young students succeed in the education system.

A Challenge to Face

The biggest challenge Adam has faced is gaining the cooperation of employees throughout his agency in regard to the importance of procurement code and policies that must be followed. Consequently, Adam and his team are constantly educating and training agency staff on compliance with state and federal law policies. He has seen rewarding results from educating others on important factors in public procurement and finds reassurance in the fact that he is doing his duty to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

A Look to the Future

Even though he is in the early stages of his professional career, Adam sees himself continuing to pursue his interest in public procurement with the Utah State Board of Education and doing his part to support the education system in the state of Utah. With more to learn and experience left to gain, Adam is eager to explore his future endeavors.

Why Gonzaga Law

Gonzaga’s reputation is what led Adam to be a part of the Zag family. He knew that he would not only receive an excellent education through Gonzaga Law, but he also envisioned himself having a healthy work-life balance during his time in law school. 

Daily Life Principle

Adam believes that “showing up every day” and being “present in the moment” is the key to having a career that is both rewarding and successful.

 
Dustin Howie is a defense attorney who enjoys the thrills of a fast-paced environment in which he can use his knowledge and expertise in law to support those who lack the necessary representation in our justice system.

 

Finding His Way to Public Interest Law

After working to create programs directed to prevent violence against vulnerable and historically disenfranchised groups during his undergraduate studies, Dustin found that he wanted to pursue a law degree to assist individuals who lacked the resources to receive adequate legal representation. Because of this, he chose a job in public interest law and and enjoyed the fast-paced environment of criminal defense work.

Facing Challenges

The largest challenge in Dustin’s career was the mindset change that he had to undergo when switching from being a prosecutor to a defense attorney. He explains that as a prosecutor he focused his efforts on seeking community justice. As a public defender, his focus shifts to understand the needs of the client. This mentality switch was difficult for Dustin, but it gave him the ability to see cases from both perspectives. He has overcome the change and it has positively resulted in a more agile execution of his duties as a public defender.

Why Gonzaga Law

Dustin knew that Gonzaga Law was the school he wanted to attend, so it was the one and only application he submitted. He chose Gonzaga over other universities because of the excellent experience and education his wife (a 2016 law graduate) received from Gonzaga Law. During his wife’s time as a student at the Law School, Dustin found himself actively involved in the outreach clubs and engaging in school events which ultimately made an easy decision to choose Gonzaga Law School for himself.

Moving Forward

In the near future, Dustin ideally sees himself having joined the strong judicial branch in the Spokane Court System or holding an upper-division managerial position as a public city defender or city attorney.

 
Rost Olsen ('16) gets his hard working mentality from his late family friend, Nick Frey, and his high school football coach who once said “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Through his professional career in public interest law, he has made it his duty to stand tall in the face of adversity.

 

A Tribute to a Mentor

Rost Olsen’s path to becoming an attorney was initially inspired by his family friend, Nick Frey, who lived a life full of service and dignity in the community. Rost notes that Nick possessed a deep wisdom and trustworthiness that made him the embodiment of the word “counselor.”

A Career in Public Interest Law

Rost has always found public interest work to have a nobility in which lawyers could live up to the ideals they profess. He desired to enter public interest law because he gravitates towards actions that advocate for public interest causes and positively impact communities of people. In his current position, Rost is employed at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office in a civil litigation position. He is proud of his career advancements and is proud to announce that he will be handling a jury trial in federal court with a colleague, which is exciting for someone who joined the bar only four years ago. Rost specifically gives a nod to public interest work for giving him the opportunity to get into the courtroom so early into his career.

Chasing the Future

Uniquely, Rost’s biggest professional dream is to have an opportunity to represent the Nevada Athletic Commission. He owes this dream to being a boxing fan in the heart of a state akin to a boxing Mecca. He also aspires to pursue his interest in representing governing bodies possibly through working in the civil division of a district attorney’s office or even possibly becoming a judicial officer. No matter where his life takes him, Rost certainly wants to look back and say he helped create positive change in his community.

Challenges and Rewards

Rost has gained experience in several jobs in public service and interest since passing the bar exam. These jobs varied from staff attorney and judicial law clerk in family court to a civil litigator representing the state in inmate civil rights cases in federal court. During his time in these different channels of public interest law, Rost found ethical concerns in the manner of how he was expected to represent his clients. At this same time, the legal job market in his area was not hiring many new partners. Though he found himself struggling, Rost immensely rewarding to learn that he had the ability to work in a number of different organizations and create relationships in a diverse field.

Why Gonzaga Law

After earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University, Rost had built many life-long relationships and believed that Spokane is where he felt most at home. Also, as a person of faith, he found that Gonzaga Law struck the nail on the head when it came to having an appropriate balance of Jesuit principles and academic discipline. Rost found Gonzaga Law to be the place for him to strive because Gonzaga’s values and commitment to public service aligned well with his own beliefs. Ultimately, Rost concludes that attending Gonzaga Law turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

A Lesson Learned

Rost makes it important to learn something new every day and while it can be stressful, he enjoys the rush. Through the challenges he has faced in his career, he has found two incredibly rewarding truths: (1) if you strive to do the right thing and are willing to work, before long, someone will come along with an unexpected helping hand; and (2) even in the midst of challenging circumstances, the practice of law can be fun.

 
As a first-generation college student, Marcos was determined to be the change in not only his family history but also in his practice of law. In his early years, he learned that an individual’s story has a right to be heard and recognized despite their circumstance or resources.

 

A Career in Public Interest Law

Marcos chose his career in the area of Public Interest Law because he has always longed to help those who did not have the opportunity to be fairly represented. Marcos reasoned that a career in public interest law would allow him to give someone the break that could potentially change the trajectory of their life. Through his profession, he strives to make a difference in his community and act as an advocate for those who are poorly represented in the public sector. He has represented clients as an attorney before the immigration court, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services, and worked for the United States government as an asylum officer for a year and a half. During his time as an asylum officer, Marcos attests that the greatest challenge was handling decisions and policies that he did not always personally agree with. Nonetheless, he always focused his efforts on protecting and advocating for his clients in the best way possible. He notes that the most rewarding part of being an asylum officer was having the ability to grant asylum and welcome someone to the United States. Although granting cases were difficult, having the ability to bestow such a benefit was beyond comparison. After his time as an asylum officer, Marcos returned to manage the removal defense program at La Raza Centro Legal, a non-profit organization in San Francisco. Fast forward into present time, Marcos now represents mostly indigent clients in removal proceedings. This position has taught him to rise to the challenge and formulate creative answers and arguments to help win cases. In Marcos’ eyes, winning a case and preventing deportation has become even more rewarding than it had been in the past.

What the Future Holds

In the next fifteen years, Marcos envisions himself continuing his work as an advocate for the immigrant community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not only does he want to represent his clients, but wants to also have a part in effective political change within public interest law.

Why Gonzaga Law

Marcos chose to attend Gonzaga Law because he recognized the institution’s dedication to public interest, social justice and using law to make the world a better place. Marcos commends Gonzaga University School of Law for using education and hands-on training to empower the next generation of public interest attorneys.

Personal Principals

Marcos owes his success as a practicing professional to his willingness to put in the hard work. As a first-generation college student, Marcos stands as an example to those that follow. He understands that everyone fights their own battles, but it is the willpower and determination that allows one to overcome hardship and succeed in their endeavors.

 

Simple words have power. Victoria Seybold learned this as an undergraduate volunteer with CASA of Central Texas where she saw “how the attorneys could take simple words and transform them into tools for positive change.” Now, she is an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid in Texas and harnesses the power of her words to help her clients.

An Early Start

From the first semester of her bachelor’s program in social work, Victoria Seybold was drawn to a career as an attorney. She was working with CASA of Central Texas and spent the majority of her required hours in the courtroom. “I couldn’t get enough of it,” she recalls, “While I didn’t understand exactly what [the attorneys] were saying, I did understand the impact their words had on the lives of both the children under the court’s supervision and the children’s parents. I was hooked.” From that point on, Victoria worked to get experience in field placements that would allow her to serve underserved and at-risk clients in conjunction with attorneys and give her insight into the judicial system.

Why Gonzaga Law

Her time working with underserved and at-risk clients as an undergraduate social work student inspired her to become a public interest attorney. She went to law school with this singular goal and even though “the work can be difficult and at times emotionally draining, working to give back to those in need has made it well worth it,” she says. “Gonzaga had been my top pick of law schools from the start, so I was thrilled to get in,” she says, because she valued “the focus Gonzaga and the Jesuit community had on serving the community.”

The Challenges of a Life in Public Interest Law

As a law student at Gonzaga, Victoria was a force within the school’s public interest life. Along with volunteering with the Moderate Means Program, the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office, the Washington State Court of Appeals, and the probate courts in Travis and Dallas Counties in Texas, she also served as Gonzaga Law’s Public Service Liaison during her second and third years. As the liaison, she helped Gonzaga Law students connect with volunteer opportunities within the Spokane area and kept track of her fellow students’ volunteer hours to ensure that they met the graduation requirements.

Despite her wealth of experience and can-do ethos, Victoria has found one of her biggest challenges in her work as an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid. She currently works with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and notes that, “[t]his was a totally new client group for me, and some of my clients’ stories are heartbreaking. I have heard stories of horrific abuse and seen pictures that turn my stomach.” Nevertheless, Victoria finds the work deeply meaningful and rewarding. “Advocating for my clients who have for the most part been told for so long by their abusers that they don’t matter, or that no one cares, makes the hard parts well worth it,” she says, “[t]hose moments where I tell a client that we’ve won our case or gotten exactly what we were asking for are priceless.”

What the Future Holds

Victoria is concerned about Texas’ lack of funding available to organizations that provide free legal aid. Right now, Victoria is the only attorney in her unit at Lone Star Legal Aid to provide civil legal aid to poor Texans who are the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking—a unit that covers a ten-county service area—and she frequently has to turn down clients for extended representation. “The social injustice,” she says, “is gut-wrenching.” While she is working on long-range career plans to segue into indigent legal aid policy and reform, she is currently working with her local bar association to launch a Moderate Means Program in Texas.

Life Lesson

Victoria firmly believes that failure is part of the journey to success. She notes that, “I have had to fall on my face a number of times over the past six months at Lone Star Legal Aid.” She says that, while her past and present supervisors and mentors have given her significant guidance, “sometimes there just isn’t a way to prepare a new attorney for the moment an opposing counsel drops a bomb in your lap at 8:30 a.m. in child support court.” Learning from failure, and perhaps from adrenaline surges, has taught Victoria some of her most valuable lessons—and put her on a path to realizing her goals.

About the Gonzaga LRAP Program

The  Gonzaga Loan Repayment Assistance Program , which was created in 2007, awards five outstanding alumni each year with loan repayment assistance. The 2015 recipients are all pursuing careers in public service and reflect Gonzaga’s humanistic, Jesuit, and Catholic mission.

 
Staying grounded in humanity even in professional practice is no hard task for Peter Van Akin. Peter says “if I were to pick one principle [in life], it would be a strong work ethic.” He believes a strong work ethic applies to any situation in life and is a good trait to carry with you into any personal or professional space.

 

The Stepping Stones

Peter was initially drawn to the idea of becoming an attorney because of a professor who was also a judge in his time as an undergrad student. This professor inspired him by a remark in which he stated that he saw characteristics and potential in him that would make him a good attorney one day. As a young student, this one comment made him even more eager to pursue a career in law. Peter carries the honor of being the first member of his family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and says that this honor plays a big part in his motivation to accomplish anything that comes his way.

A Career as a Public Defense Attorney

Once he committed his career to becoming a lawyer, he knew he wanted to go into the practice of criminal law. He chose this path because he liked the personal aspect to the job and enjoyed learning every side to the client’s story. After interning with the prosecutor’s office in his 1L year, he realized the disadvantage many defendants have in finding justice in the legal system. This realization made him eager to learn and helped him set his goal of mastering his familiarity with case law, statutes, application of court rules, and sharing his knowledge with future attorneys. As a public defense attorney, he believes the greatest challenge is the lack of adequate community resources. Peter hopes for more community support and funding for issues pertaining to the well-being of individuals and asks for public sympathy for clients that may be struggling to get access to the resources they need. He claims that the most rewarding aspect of his work is being able to connect with his clients and share their humanity that many have been disregarded.

Why Gonzaga Law

He chose Gonzaga Law because of his appreciation for the values and principles that are sustained in the culture, as a Jesuit institution. Peter believes that Gonzaga lives through its mission statement and continues to help the upbringing of strong attorneys that also care for humanity.

 
For Michael Vader Giessan maintaining a clear vision of the reason why he does his work is essential to his success. He is a perfect example of an individual who dedicates their own personal vision to making a difference for vulnerable members of our society. He found his passion in helping others, and it is translated through his admirable journey in the practice of law.

 

The Early Stages

Michael chose the career of attorney in hopes of making a difference for vulnerable and marginalized members of society. From the beginning, he knew he wanted to challenge his intellect and use his legal platform to make an impact in other’s lives. His time studying at Gonzaga Law helped him realize that he is most fulfilled when his legal practice advances his core values and gives him the ability to seek equal justice for those who sorely need it.

A Career in Public Interest Law

The biggest challenge he has faced in his career as a public interest attorney has been an obvious lack of resources necessary to make a change in the lives of people in need. Despite the lack of resources, the most rewarding aspect of his career has been to achieve basic justice for those who seldom, if ever, experienced it before. Michael has found great pride in being able to help our legal system work with fairness towards those in need of representation.

A Glance at the Future

According to Michael, the journey is far more important than the destination. In his current position as a prosecutor targeting crimes of domestic violence and assault on the Colville Reservation, he aims to serve the community through his duty to uphold the law, bring justice, and advocate for the rights of indigenous crime victims. He aims to be a consistent advocate for his clients and will continue to hold himself to high practice standards throughout any professional profession he takes on in the future.

Why Gonzaga Law

Michael chose to attend Gonzaga Law School after learning that the institution’s mission and values fell in harmony with his own philosophies of living. Even after contemplating attending other schools, Gonzaga continued to stand out in the forefront of his decision.