Man Denied Admission to the Bar Because of Student Debt

According to an article in the New York Times, Robert Bowman will not be admitted to practice law in New York because he owes almost $500,000 in student debt. According to the decision by a panel of five New York judges:

“His application demonstrates a course of action amounting to neglect of financial responsibilities with respect to the student loans he has accumulated since 1983,” the judges wrote in a decision issued late last week. They went on to criticize his “dealing with the lenders.”

Bowman, who put himself through community college, a bachelors degree program, and law school in an effort to become a lawyer, finally passed the bar examination after his fourth try last year. But the gigantic debt Bowman accumulated in the course of his academic career is troublesome because it speaks to his “character,” something occasionally used to deny a law license to otherwise qualified law school graduates.

Bowman pointed out that without the ability to practice law it would be very difficult for him to earn enough to pay off his debts, now about $10,000 a month. The average student loan debt among graduating college seniors was $23,186. For law school students, the average loan burden is often much worse.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer