Government Lawyers Newsletter
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers

April 2002, vol. 3, no. 3

Reducing the burden of student loans—The Career Criminal Justice Attorney Education Expenses Repayment Act—House Bill 5599

The Task Force on Professional Practice1 in the Illinois Justice Systems was created by the Illinois legislature to examine the ability of Illinois' criminal and juvenile justice systems to dispense justice in a fair, equitable and just manner. In its May 12, 2000 report, the Task Force which was chaired and staffed by this Illinois State Bar Association made the following recommendation which it entitled Reducing the Burden of Student Loans:

Illinois should consider a tuition-waiver program or loan forgiveness program or both for lawyers who commit to public service in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, similar to programs offered to Illinois members of the National Guard.

Again, this year, legislation implementing this recommendation has been introduced in the Illinois House, HB 5599, entitled the Career Criminal Justice Attorney Education Expenses Repayment Act. For those eligible, the bill provides for a law school education expenses annual stipend in the amount of $3,500 (or the outstanding balance of the attorney's student loan, whichever is less) for up to five years. Additionally, an eligible attorney who has received five such annual stipends may receive an additional seven annual stipends in the amount of $5,000 or the outstanding balance of their law school loans, whichever is less. The Act defines an eligible attorney as one employed as a full-time assistant state's attorney; public defender; appellate defender; appellate prosecutor or attorney general. If eligible, to be accepted for the stipend, the attorney must be licensed in Illinois and agree to remain in their present employment for at least one year after the stipend's receipt. If the attorney resigns after receiving the stipend, 1/12 of it must be repaid for each month the attorney was no longer an eligible attorney.

Readers may also be interested in similar legislation introduced in the Illinois Senate, SB 1804, entitled the Judicial Law Clerk Benefit Act. This bill would create a Judicial Law Benefit Fund out of which the State of Illinois would pay a full-time Illinois Supreme, Appellate or Circuit Court judicial law clerk, who has higher education student loans to repay, up to $9,000 per year for not more than two years.

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Editors' note: As this issue of the newsletter went to print, HB 5599 had passed out of the House Higher Education Committee and was on second reading in the House. SB 1804 had been re-referred to the Senate Rules Committee.

1. Among the 19 members of the Task Force appointed by Illinois' executive, legislative and judicial branches and by other entities with expertise in the Illinois justice system was Paul A. Logli, the State's Attorney of Winnebago County since 1986 and a member of the Standing Committee on Government Lawyers since its inception.