Beall Bill Helps Attorneys Who Help Those in Need

March 26, 2007
Contact: Richard Woonacott @  (916) 319-3687

The California Assembly committee on Higher Education passed Assembly Bill 171 in a 5-2 party line vote.

“Public interests attorneys are essential to ensuring justice for all,” said Assembly Member Jim Beall, Jr. (D – San Jose) when arguing for the bill infront of the committee, “because public interest attorneys help the most vurenable in our society navigate our legal system.”

AB 171 will help new attorneys serve the public by making service in a county counsel’s office eligible for the Public Interest Attorney Loan Repayment Program.  The bill will also make technical changes to the program, including renaming it the Assumption Program of Loans for Law in the Public Interest, so that it can better serve public interest attorneys.

Assembly Member Beall introduced AB 171 to help young attorneys enter and remain in public interest law.  The massive debt accumulated from attending law school, can deter new graduates from choosing less lucrative careers in public service.  A recent study by the American Bar Association found that debt prevented two-thirds of law school graduates from considering a career in the public sector.

The Assumption Program of Loans for Law in the Public Interest was established to encourage new law school graduates to take jobs in the public sector, by helping to repay their student loans.  Unfortunately, county counsels were not included in the program.  County counsels protect abused and neglected children, assist indigent and impaired adults, and represent the counties in legal matters.  They are public interest attorneys in every sense of the word.

AB 171 will not only include county counsels in the State program, but also encourage law school based programs that help public interest attorneys to include county counsels.

"Reforming the Assumption Program of Loans for Law in the Public Interest will help new attorneys who want to make a difference in public interest law,” said Assembly Member Beall.