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Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)

Testimonials

Lisa Rau, JD ’87

(Inaugural Class of LRAP Recipients)

Judge, Court of Common Pleas
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania

Dear LRAP Founders:

This letter of gratitude is long overdue. I cannot tell you how many times over the last 20 years I have wondered how my life would be different if it had not been for you.

Your establishing the LRAP program enabled both my husband and me to pursue a career in public service notwithstanding our graduating at the top of our class in student loan debt. I still remember the day that we learned about LRAP. I kept reading over the description of the program in disbelief. I wondered who these wonderful and generous people were who had provided a financial way for us to pursue the careers we wanted. To me, you were both angels. After law school, my husband and I moved to Philadelphia where we both enjoyed the luxury of a public service career thanks to you. Each month as the bills were due and finances were tight, we would often remark that we absolutely could not possibly have managed without LRAP.

Now, long after my law school loans have been paid off and I am still doing public service but with a much more comfortable income, I still feel tremendous gratitude to both of you for helping us get the fantastic Stanford Law School education but enabling us to contribute those skills to those less fortunate. I am quite certain that every LRAP recipient has had similar thoughts about the generous strangers who created the LRAP program. Just think of the ripple effect that your establishment of the LRAP has provided. Not only did you transform each of our lives but your impact has passed on to every family that LRAP participants have sought to use their legal skills to help.

Thank you so much,

Lisa Rau, JD ’87

 

Ruth Barnes, JD ’07

I wanted to write and tell you about the difference LRAP has made to my work. First of all, it is the case that I simply would not have been able to pursue my career in international child rights without LRAP. I have been on the LRAP programme for four years now. During this time, my work has taken to Bahrain, Guatemala, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. In fact, I am sitting writing to you from the UNICEF office in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, during a break from a workshop on child-friendly justice for police and prosecutors that we are working to deliver together. Over the past four years, I have worked to promote and protect the rights of children. Without LRAP, I would not have had the option to do so. A heartfelt thank you to those that make LRAP possible.

Many thanks,

Ruth Barnes, JD ’07
International Research and Projects Manager
Children’s Legal Centre

 

Emily Galvin, JD ’10

I am really excited to have an opportunity to talk about how much the LRAP program has done for me.

I graduated with the full three years' debt burden squarely on my shoulders. I was lucky enough to have the choice between going to work for a large law firm in Los Angeles and taking a fellowship to be a public defender in Santa Clara County for the year following law school. The fellowship paid less than one-third what the firm would have, but offered me the opportunity to take the job I've wanted since my 1L year, and do work about which I am deeply passionate. To me, the difference between having a job and having a vocation is the difference between work you get paid for and work you would do anyway in your spare time, given the choice. Defending the public falls into the latter category for me--it doesn't feel like a job, it feels like my passion. My debt burden would, under ordinary circumstances, make it impossible for me to choose my passion over a well-paid firm job--I would never be able to make the monthly payments on the fellowship's stipend, or even on the starting salary offered by the Public Defender's Office. Because of LRAP, though, I didn't have to bite that particular bullet.

LRAP gave me the freedom to do what I love, to be blissfully happy in my first job out of law school and to be certain about continuing down this path and working in indigent criminal defense in the future. Without LRAP, I would have had to take the firm job, taking comfort in the financial security while hopefully forgetting ever having been passionate about legal work--I'm sure I could have come to intellectually appreciate my work, but I never would have had that feeling of invigoration that comes with fighting for a cause I believe in. In short, LRAP gave me the most precious, incredible gift in the world: the freedom to be happy. As friends who aren't blessed with such a program take jobs they aren't happy in or struggle every month to make ends meet in the face of crushing debt, my feeling of gratitude for LRAP has skyrocketed. This program is truly a blessing, and has changed my life utterly. Perhaps more importantly, LRAP has touched the lives of every indigent client I represent – because of LRAP, they get a lawyer who loves her job, and will work as hard as need be to zealously defend their case, as opposed to a stressed-out debtor with ballooning student loans. It is nothing short of all the difference in the world. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to say how much LRAP means to me.

Yours,

Emily Galvin, JD ’10

 

Michael Rossotto, JD ’92

LRAP was crucial both to my decision to attend Stanford and my ability to pursue a career in public service going on 20 years now following graduation. I had worked as a project director, grassroots organizer, and lobbyist for Friends of the Earth in Seattle for four years prior to law school. My motivation for attending law school was to become a more effective advocate for the environment and other causes I cared about, and there was no question that I would return to public service after graduation. However, having lived paycheck-to-paycheck for those four years working for FOE, I would be entering law school with zero assets except for a used car, and no financial assistance from my parents beyond their willingness to co-sign my loans. While several attorneys I had interacted with in my years at FOE encouraged me to apply to Stanford, it would have been pointless to do so but for LRAP.

While at Stanford, I continued to work on environmental issues in the Pacific Northwest, served as President of the Stanford Environmental Law Society and Student Public Interest Coordinator in the Office of Career Services, and was one of the inaugural winners of the Stanford Law School Public Service Fellowship which was created during my first year at SLS. At the time, the Public Service Fellowship actually provided a complete tuition waiver for the second and third years of law school. Nonetheless, between first year tuition, three years of living expenses, and a bar study loan, I still ended up graduating with $45,000 in loans in 1992. A return to public interest/public service work would simply not have been possible without LRAP. Following graduation, I accepted an offer to be a staff attorney representing government employee whistleblowers in the newly opened Seattle office of the Government Accountability Project (GAP). GAP didn’t actually have a budget for a second attorney (my position) in the office, but the managing attorney convinced the Executive Director to let him use the funds budgeted for a secretary to hire me instead. Thus, I started my post FOE and SLS public interest law career in August 1992 on an annual salary of $23,000, still no assets, a child to provide for, and $45,000 in law school debt. This simply would not have been possible without LRAP (not to mention shared housing, used cars, sack lunches, and all the other things many of us do to be able to pursue our public interest/public service careers). During my ten years of LRAP eligibility, I moved on from GAP to working as the legal director for a statewide environmental organization and executive director of a major regional conservation organization, with a couple of years mixed in doing community relations work for a transit agency and consulting and contract work for non-profits and local government entities. None of these positions paid more than $45,000/year (mostly quite a bit less), and none of this would have been possible without LRAP. Since “graduating” from LRAP, I have continued my public interest/public service career, working primarily with environmental organizations until 2004, when I became the Appellate Department Director for the Northwest Intertribal Court System, a non-profit corporation formed by several Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest to administer their tribal courts and courts of appeal. While my current salary is still a fraction of what my classmates in private practice are earning, I’m pleased to report that I am no longer living paycheck-to-paycheck, said goodbye to the last of my housemates in 2011, and may actually be able to pay off my mortgage in 2012. Again, none of this would have been possible without LRAP.

While most of this has focused on what LRAP has done for me personally, I want to close by emphasizing what LRAP has done for the organizations and causes I’ve worked for. There is no doubt in my mind that the organizations I’ve worked for since graduating from SLS would have accomplished great things regardless of whether they had hired me. However, without boasting details or uploading my resume, I can also say with great confidence that I brought to those organizations a mix of skills, training and experience beyond what they might have been able to access had it not been for LRAP, and as a result, the accomplishments of those organizations were more numerous and more significant than they likely would have been had it not been for LRAP. I can’t imagine a more satisfying and rewarding career path for me than the one I took, thanks to LRAP. But the real benefit of LRAP isn’t simply what it did for me – or for any of us participants – the real benefit is the immense talent and commitment of passion and resources that LRAP enables Stanford Law graduates to dedicate to the greatest needs of society and the planet.

Michael Rossotto, JD ’92 Appellate Department Director
Northwest Intertribal Court System

Brett Shelton, JD ’96

LRAP was the reason I went to Stanford – it’s as simple as that. Because of my background and upbringing, I knew that once I went to law school I would be obligated to do extensive work in public service, in very financially disadvantaged Native American communities. LRAP made it possible to do that after obtaining a first-rate law school experience. Stanford won out over all of its competitors when I made my decision about where to attend, because of LRAP. Now, I hope to contribute whatever I can back to Stanford, for making it possible for me to live the life for which I was called, and in partial repayment for the ability I was given to help others who would not otherwise had access to assistance and awareness of their situations, but for my opportunity. LRAP made it possible for me to change my life, and in turn I take the obligation to try to help others change their lives very seriously. I also take very seriously my debt to LRAP and Stanford for giving me, and my home community and other similarly situated communities, such an opportunity—even still.

Best,

Brett Shelton, JD ’96

 

Peter Conti-Brown, JD '10

LRAP has been an extraordinary privilege for me, and meant that, in the midst of the greatest recession in two generations, I didn't need to feel pressured to work at a large law firm when that was not something that I wanted to do. Don't get me wrong: I think there is a tremendous amount of value to private sector lawyering. My problem is more situational. I have two young boys (see attached photo), and the idea of spending their early years chained to a Blackberry and missing milestones made my heart sink. Instead, I was able to pursue my legal ambitions elsewhere, with a much more predictable schedule. LRAP donors are the reason that this is so. I look forward, if my financial means ever allow, to returning the favor to a future generation of SLS graduates.

Best,

Peter Conti-Brown, JD '10