In an opinion issued on March 5, a U.S. District Court of Oregon judge, Ann Aiken, had extremely harsh words for the higher education system of the U.S. Aiken’s opinion ripped apart the law schools in the country for putting such a large burden on law school graduates when it comes to insurmountable debt.
“Students with advanced degrees, specifically juris doctorates, are facing a quagmire,” Aiken wrote. “Attending law school was a guaranteed way to ensure financial stability. For current graduates, however, this is no longer true, due in large part to the high cost of law school tuition.”
Aiken wrote that there were 382,828 applicants who were applying for 2,700 clerkships with federal judge back in 2010. The reprimand by Aiken was part of the opinion for the case of Michael Hedlund. Hedlund is from Klamath Falls and he has been using the past nine years to get his loans for law school legally discharged. A lower-court ruling was reversed by Aiken that would permit Hedlund to remove $50,000 of his law school debt, which is at $85,000.
Hedlund graduated from Willamette University Law School, located in Salem, back in the 90s. Hedlund failed his first two attempts at the bar and did not show up for the third when he locked himself out of his vehicle on his way there. Hedlund is employed as a probation officer in the juvenile department of Klamath County.
“I wasn’t ever trying to get out of paying the loans,” Hedlund said. “I was trying to get something I can afford.”
Hedlund has appealed the ruling by Aiken, which was in favor of the lenders, to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.