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 that 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 LRAP 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 award 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

Like so many prospective law students, Brooke Foley decided to go to law school because she was “drawn to advocating for those who are unable to do so for themselves.” Before coming to Gonzaga Law, Foley worked with vulnerable populations as a social worker, mediator, and teacher and found tremendous satisfaction in helping other people solve their problems. “This is where I feel most at home,” she states, “[e]ven prior to law school, I have always worked in non-profits/public interest.”

Choosing Gonzaga Law

Once she made the decision to attend law school, Foley chose Gonzaga. “Gonzaga has always had a great reputation,” she recalls, “attending law school here allowed me to stay in state but still get out of my home town of Seattle.” Before enrolling in Gonzaga Law, Foley had worked at the Fulcrum Institute in Spokane as a contract mediator on small claims and family law cases. As a student, Foley was active in the Street Law program and interned with the Criminal Division of the Coeur d’Alene City Attorney’s Office.

First Job

Her first job after graduating from Gonzaga was as a staff attorney with the Empire Health Foundation, a private health conversion foundation formed in 2008 through the sale of Deaconess and Valley Medical, a nonprofit hospital system in Spokane. She joined the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office in 2012 and hopes to have a long future in the office. “I am still only five years into my criminal practice and I have so much to learn,” she says, “I would love to still be at this office. There are incredible people here whom I can learn from and, hopefully, in 15 years I will be someone who can share everything I’ve learned with others who are just starting out.”

On the Job Rewards

She faces the heavy case load that is a hallmark of her calling with equanimity and has concerns about the difficulty of establishing and maintaining “strong relationships with my clients given the sheer number of them.” But there are rewards, nevertheless. “The most rewarding part of the work has been when I have been able to get my client their expected result. When we take a client’s case to trial and get a not-guilty verdict it is incredible – but a negotiated result or a case amended through motion practice can be just as satisfying.”

The John R. Clark endowed Loan Repayment Assistance Program offers loan repayment assistance to Spokane-area public defenders. Foley is a 2017 recipient of the program.

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.

 

Keeping track of the details is no problem for Class of 2017 Loan Repayment Assistance Program recipient Jennifer Minear. After graduating from Gonzaga Law in 1998, Minear began work for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review where she juggles the myriad details about the lives and health histories of claimants for retirement, disability, and supplemental security income benefits. Fitting the pieces of a claimant’s life together suites her to a T. “I cannot remember what drew me to become an attorney, other than the order and organization of it, she recalls, “I have never really been a big fan of debate or confrontation but I have always enjoyed taking the pieces of a problem or situation and weaving them together into the bigger picture to reach a solution.”

Why Gonzaga Law

She chose to attend Gonzaga Law because she wanted to attend “a prestigious law school” while remaining in her home state of Washington. Her experience as an intern with an attorney who handled worker’s compensation and Social Security disability cases turned her towards a career in public service. “I felt like my personal aptitudes fit well within the administrative process, and I continued in those areas when I became an attorney,” she notes. She also enjoys her work even though “[n]obody wants to have to file for disability benefits, but I feel grateful knowing that I am doing my part to help that person during this part of his or her life.”

Biggest Challenge

She has found that dealing with the SSA’s national backlog of cases is her biggest challenge in her work. “It is a constant challenge to balance quality of work with the demand of our clients and our own productivity goals,” she states. To meet this challenge, she approaches “each day, and each case, with the mentality: do the best I can, and keep moving forward.”

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.

 

For Jennifer Richards, serving others runs in the family. Her sister is a nurse and Jennifer, now an attorney with Nevada Legal Services, thinks that “helping people is kind of in our family DNA.” Jennifer is a recipient of the Class of 2017 Loan Repayment Assistance Program and sees her law degree as a tool for effecting positive change in her community in Nevada.

Gaps in the Justice System

As an undergraduate, Jennifer got involved with Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA. One of Jennifer’s close friends grew up in the foster system and her CASA had been “the only stable and supportive adult in her life until she was adopted.” As a CASA volunteer, Jennifer began to see the gaps in the justice system. Even though she was a full-time student, Jennifer was also working as a legal secretary and as she helped with the day-to-day tasks of the practice, she had a thought that many future law students have: “I could do this.”

An Interesting Connection to Spokane

When she began to research law schools, Gonzaga was “just a basketball powerhouse that my undergraduate faced in the Sweet 16,” she said. But after meeting with a representative from Gonzaga Law, Jennifer was impressed “by the long history of the school, the Jesuit philosophy of educating the mind, body and soul, and the dedication of Gonzaga to public interest law.” She realized that she even had a connection to Spokane. Her mother was “born on the Monroe Street bridge” when Jennifer’s grandfather was stationed in Spokane.

But it was during her visit to Gonzaga as a prospective student that Jennifer learned what a singular place Gonzaga Law was. Along with a very strong presence in the Nevada legal community, a wonderful regional reputation, and a good bar passage rate, Gonzaga had a welcoming environment that allowed her to flourish as a student. Gonzaga law professors “truly had an open office policy,” she recalls, and “they seemed to genuinely care about the students and their success.”

Her initial impressions were born out by her experience as a student when a professor stayed to pray with her in the chapel after a member of Jennifer’s family passed away. Even though she graduated in 2012, she still gets regular emails from her Gonzaga professors and stays in touch with the “fantastic library staff” who still help with research questions when she “gets stuck.” Her school ties extend not only to her fellow classmates, but also to all of the Zag alumni she encounters in her work and life.

Having a Profound Impact

As a clinical intern in Gonzaga’s Elder Law Clinic, Jennifer worked with an elderly client who had all of her remaining teeth pulled in anticipation of getting dentures as part of a government program. The program’s funding was cut, the client’s attempts to get dentures went nowhere, and she was left toothless, in pain, and subsisting on a liquid diet. Jennifer wrote a letter and made a phone call and her client got her new teeth. “I was equipped with the knowledge and the power to help people that couldn’t help themselves,” says Jennifer. She notes that “[t]he actions that I might take might seem small and insignificant to me, but they could have a profound and life altering effect on others.” Her clinic experience cemented her decision to practice public interest law.

Her clinic experience may also explain Jennifer’s guiding principle: “Make your bed, change your life.” She first heard this in a speech by U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven in 2014. Adm. McCraven explained that “this small change in your life could help you change the world,” she recalls, and that “[s]tarting the day by accomplishing something – even something small, can lead to bigger accomplishments…and when all else fails, if you’ve had a terrible day at least you will come home to a nice bed that is made.”

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.

 

Sally Cooley decided to go to law school because, she believed “that there were many people who needed assistance in navigating our often complex legal system, and the optimistic notion that I could effectively provide that assistance.” She chose Gonzaga Law because she “fell in love with the School of Law and the incredibly friendly and helpful individuals who reached out to me and welcomed me to the School.”

Began Career as a Public Defender

As a law student, she lived next to John P. Nollette, a Spokane attorney and member of Gonzaga Law’s Class of 1972. Cooley interned with Nollette and worked on the conflict cases he took from the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office. This was when she realized that “this was where my services were most needed.” After graduating from Gonzaga Law in 2005, Cooley started her legal career as a county public defender in Canyon County, ID and began to play her role in fulfilling the promise of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case that held that indigent persons facing serious criminal charges had the right to an attorney at state expense.

The Role of Teaching

Currently, Cooley is employed by the Idaho State Appellate Public Defender’s Office and foresees that her career in public service will continue for a long time despite the challenges of being in public defense. “In 15 years I see myself still involved in public interest work,” she states, “although I have often considered becoming involved in teaching the law.” She notes that, “[s]ome days I feel like I’m teaching when I speak to my clients. That is, I am explaining to them the appellate process, without using the ‘legalese’ that is so confusing to lay persons.”

Overcoming Hurdles

When asked about the challenges of her work, Cooley states that, “[t]he hurdles faced by my clients also challenge me.” The hurdles that Cooley’s clients often face include “inadequate mental health care, transportation difficulties, lack of steady employment at a living wage, financial problems sometimes cause by re-occurring or multiple involvements with the legal system, [and] lack of education.” Despite the difficulties of her work, Cooley still finds satisfaction “when I feel like I have really helped a client or, if I can’t win their case, at least I have listened to them and explained the situation and their options, thereby providing them with counsel that they may not otherwise have, and helping them to make educated decisions.”

In over a decade of public service, it seems that Sally Cooley may have only one regret. “While in law school,” she recalls, “I grew to love the city of Spokane, and still miss it.”

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.

 

Simple words have power. Victoria David 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, a member of the Class of 2017 Loan Repayment Assistance Program recipients as she 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 David 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.