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.
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:
How It All Started
Kaytlin Beckett had an interest for law from a very young age, however her collegiate path led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in theatre and English. As she moved through her teaching career, she realized she could no longer put off her interest in public law after seeing a so many of her students funneling straight from low income grade schools into the criminal justice system because of lack of resources, support and opportunity. She realized she could no longer simply watch it happen. She was spurred to action and decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an attorney.
A Look into the Future
Kaytlin intends to continue working in a field that allows her to better serve the safety and general well-being of the public. In 15 years, she hopes to be able to look back on a career that she can be proud of and find peace in knowing that she is doing her part in the world. Kaytlin wants to be able to take a more hands-on approach to creating safer communities to combat ever-increasing instances of violent crime against vulnerable.
Up for the Challenge
Kaytlin states that the pro bono requirements of her previous position in a private defense firm were some of the most challenging in her career. She worked directly with graduates of the diversionary drug court program to obtain criminal record expungements for those who qualified, and would process close to 200 expungements in a year’s time. Even during the challenging times, came many triumphant moments. Kaytlin was able to assist in the organization and execution of a county-wide expungement program that allowed low or no-income individuals access to the expungement process completely free of charge. Kaytlin expresses that the work was tedious, but believes the type of experiences she had to endure makes her more qualified to exercise discretion in the position she currently holds.
Why GU Law
Kaytlin applied to Gonzaga Law after reading about the institution’s dedication to the field of public interest law. She was then bolstered in her decision by the incredibly positive reputation that Gonzaga carries in many communities.
Daily Life Principles
When asked about her guiding principles, Kaytlin said: (1) “Never let the fear win, because your track record for surviving difficult situations is still at 100%” (2) “be kind, but be direct” and lastly, (3) “sometimes being underestimated is the best gift a person can give you.”
Jonathan Degan believes in not letting the external interfere with the internal when it comes to his professional life. He recognizes that a career in public service law comes with outside pressures that can be consuming, at times. However, Jonathan acknowledges his responsibilities and yet finds a graceful work-life balance founded on the respect of himself and others.
Choosing a Career Path
Jonathan did not quite know which direction he wanted to go with his career, but he knew that he wanted to choose a different path other than medical school. Both his father and sister are doctors; he is an optometrist and she is an orthodontist. Throughout high school, Johnathan realized that he cared less for math and science and cared more for the art of articulating his thoughts and words to be used in persuasive conversation. He claims that law, court films and other criminal justice TV shows have always caught his attention since a young age. Once he decided to follow his passions, he chose to attend law school and has never looked back.
Interest in Public Service
Jonathan was uncertain as to which area of law he wanted to practice at the beginning of his journey. He wanted to keep his mind open to all possibilities. During his 1L year, he interned at a civil firm in Spokane but later realized that area of practice was not right for him. Degan networked and later met a mentor, Laurie Powers, during his 2L year who suggested a new internship to him at the Kootenai County Prosecutor's office which would get him in the courtroom and provide a great deal of experience. He took the offer, and has been pursuing the area of practice ever since.
In 15 years, Jonathan sees himself continuing his work in the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office. He is proud to call Spokane his home, and has no intentions of leaving. In his professional career, he hopes to build a solid reputation in the legal community through the hard work and dedication he puts into public service.
Taking on Challenges
Jonathan has rapidly moved from different positions in the prosecutor’s office in the last three years and states that the biggest challenge is the learning curve that he has had to experience. In the short span of three years, he spent eight months in the District Court prosecuting DUIs and misdemeanor crimes, moved over to juvenile law, and then to adult felonies. However, Jonathan claims that the most rewarding aspects of the job come with all of the challenges. Through overcoming challenges, he has learned that he can adapt quickly and work well in the unknown.
Choosing Gonzaga Law
Jonathan chose GU Law for several reasons, being: (1) his wife, girlfriend at the time lived and was raised in Spokane, (2) he loved Eastern Washington and knew the area because he went to Washington State University for undergrad, and (3) Spokane was close enough to his hometown Vancouver, Washington so that he could easily travel to visit family.
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.
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.
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.
A Career in Public Interest Law
Megan knew early on that she would up her persuasive intellect to good use one day. Her parents and school faculty throughout her younger years also recognized her talents and encouraged her to pursue a career as a lawyer. However, it was when she got to college where she found her love for Criminal Justice. Courses such as Educational Law, Women and the Law, and Constitutional Law lead her path to pursue a career in Public Interest Law. Megan ultimately decided to focus on being a public defender after working at the Gonzaga Legal Clinic and attending a law school event where she met Bryan Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Everything felt like it was falling into place for Megan, and she felt that she was exactly where she needed to be.
Future Plans and Aspirations
In 15 years, Megan still sees herself practicing as a public defender representing juveniles in criminal matters. Throughout her years in practice, she has seen the justice system fall short of protecting juveniles and seen a lack of resources being provided to those in need of representation. Her goal is to someday start a non-profit Juvenile Justice Center/Clinic to represent juveniles on criminal and civil cases, and to assist with post-conviction issues such as record sealing, restitution, sex offender relief, and other collateral consequences. Nonetheless, Megan hopes that her future efforts work to end the practice of transferring juveniles to adult court.
Why Gonzaga Law
Megan decided to attend Gonzaga Law after falling in love with Washington state, and enjoying learning about the philosophy of a Jesuit education. Not only did she practice law, but she was also a part of the Gonzaga Women’s Rugby club as an undergrad! Megan was an individual that was truly involved with the Gonzaga community, as a whole.
Bekki McLean knew she wanted to pursue a career as an attorney early on in life because of an aspiration to help others and give back to the community. McLean’s career mantra has always been to “work hard, and do what is right.”
The Early Stages
Bekki found her interest in public service through family members who also committed their lives to public service. Her father worked for the U.S. Forest Service until retirement, her mother was a school teacher, and her brother currently serves as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Missoula, Montana. When a position opened for her in public service, Bekki knew it was the right time and type of work to make the switch from private practice. She knew a career in public service would allow her to fulfill her overarching goal of helping others and giving back to the community.
A Career in Public Service Law
When looking ahead to the future, Bekki sees herself continuing to work in public service for the City of Bozeman, Montana. Within the next 15 years, she hopes to have taken on a greater role with the City of Bozeman and potentially expand her practice to include work on civil issues and program development. While achieving benchmarks in her life, Bekki hopes to still feel good about waking up every day and working to resolve important issues with people she enjoys.
Her current position offers challenges in the voluminous caseload and demanding court schedule. However, the challenges are significantly outweighed by the rewards that have come with her position. Bekki’s position in public service law has allowed her to be a vital part in ensuring safety for the citizens of Bozeman, work to bring justice for the people, and participate in numerous programs and activities aimed at educating law enforcement personnel and members of the community regarding the interworking of the criminal justice system.
Why Gonzaga Law
Bekki chose Gonzaga University School of Law because of the school’s outstanding reputation, diverse class offerings in specialties that were available in comparison to other law schools, and proximity to her home state. She is continually thankful for her time at GU, and is confident that her attendance contributed to her ability to secure competitive positions of employment.
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.
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.