Cardozo School of Law | Loan Repayment Assistance Program
DateOctober 15, 2020
The Cardozo School of Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program provides financial support to enable the school’s graduates to embark on public service law careers.
In 2008, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund made a five-year commitment to endow the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), with the hope of supporting and retaining highly skilled advocates to provide the underrepresented with access to justice.
Social justice issues continue to dominate the news. Matters relating to immigration, housing, equal educational opportunities, domestic abuse, and children’s rights, among other issues, require trained and compassionate lawyers devoted to helping our most vulnerable populations. The Tisch LRAP helps to ensure that bright and committed lawyers remain in public interest law. The program is an important contribution to increasing the access of low- income people to quality legal assistance, while elevating public service law as a profession deserving of this country’s outstanding lawyers.
As of 2019, the Laurie M. Tisch Loan Repayment Assistance Program at Cardozo Law School had enabled more than 300 Cardozo alumni who are public interest attorneys (the non-governmental public sector) to embark upon careers by accepting jobs positions whose primary responsibility is to serve our most vulnerable populations.
The LRAP is designed to cover a portion of the recipient’s debt payments while employed by a public service entity, thus easing the burden of debt. For many, the Tisch LRAP is a transformative grant, enabling them to make a difference in the lives of the people they serve. The tangible and intangible benefits are closely intertwined. At the same time that the Tisch loan repayment covers basic necessities, by easing the burden of debt they help reduce stress and provide some peace of mind.
Tisch recipients are employed at legal aid organizations, offices of public defenders and district attorneys, civil rights organizations, and other government and non-profit organizations on the front lines of providing crucial legal services. Although most positions are in NYC and NY State, there are a handful of awardees working in Colorado, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Florida.
Government entities with LRAP recipients have included:
- New York City Administration for Children’s Services
- New York City Commission on Human Rights
- District Attorney’s Office in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn
- Offices of the Attorney General for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois
- U.S. Department of Justice
Public interest groups with LRAP recipients have included:
- Legal Aid Society
- New York Civil Liberties Union
- Bronx Defenders
- Make the Road New York
- Center for Family Representation
- Center for Court Innovation
- Florida Justice Institute
- Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County
- Center for Independence of the Disabled
- Immigrant Justice Corps
- Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
- Lambda Legal
- Innocence Project
Public Defender, the Bronx Defenders, New York Immigrant Family Unit Project, JD ’17
I am a public defender for detained immigrants in New York City at The Bronx Defenders. I am part of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, the first-of-its-kind public defender program for immigrants detained by ICE. I love what I do – it is beyond an honor and a privilege to represent incarcerated New Yorkers and their families as they fight their deportations.
However, without LRAP, I would not be able to do this work. I have crushing student debt that my public defender salary cannot manage on its own. LRAP helps me pay off my student loans in a responsible, consistent way, and having that financial security allows me to represent people who need free attorneys in their deportation proceedings.
“When immigrant rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.” is a saying that has become all the more relevant in this current political climate. I have the honor and privilege to do that every day, and Cardozo’s LRAP program allows me to do that. For that I am deeply appreciative.
Assistant Director for Grants and Advocacy, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, JD ’14
One of the primary reasons I chose to attend Cardozo was to participate in what is now the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR) in pursuit of my ultimate goal of a career in international human rights law. Following my work as a fellow with CLIHHR and participating in the CLIHHR clinic, I went on to seek career opportunities in public service within the field of human rights. While I have had the good fortune to work at the New York Civil Liberties Union, HIAS, Physicians for Human Rights, and in my current role as the Assistant Director for Grants and Advocacy at the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, I would not have been able to seize these opportunities without the help of the Laurie M. Tisch LRAP program.
Living in New York City simultaneously affords numerous opportunities to work in the field of human rights that would not be available elsewhere, while presenting the great challenge of affording to live in one of the most expensive cities on a public interest attorney’s salary. I have been a recipient of LRAP awards since 2017, and these awards have played a significant role in allowing me to afford living in New York City without having to sacrifice my dedication to a career in human rights. With the assistance of my LRAP awards, I am able to keep up with my fairly burdensome loan payments while pursuing greater human rights protections through UN and other international mechanisms during my “day job” and even taking on pro bono asylum cases on the side, rather than having to seek alternative sources of income. I am extremely grateful to the Laurie M. Tisch LRAP program for their continued support of my career.
Agency Attorney, Administration for Children’s Services, JD ’17
I am an Agency Attorney at the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) where I litigate child abuse and neglect cases on behalf of the Commissioner of ACS.
The LRAP awards that I have received over the last couple of years have truly allowed me to work in a field which is so important to me: Child Welfare. If it wasn’t for this award, for which I am extremely grateful, I would likely not be able to continue doing the work I do. As you know, New York City has an extremely high cost of living and as a native New Yorker, there is nothing more important to me than being able to serve the children of the neighborhoods where I have grown up. Due to the high cost of living, it is difficult to live and work in New York City, especially when earning a public interest law salary along with having a great deal of school loans hanging over the top of our heads. The LRAP award has decreased my financial stress level and allowed me to continue doing the work I love which is securing the safety of the children of New York. I could not do what I do without this award and I feel blessed to be awarded such a special award. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me as a recipient of the LRAP award.