How This Defense Attorney Is Crushing $120,000 in Student Loans

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

repaying law school debt

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

The legal profession has been around a long time, with the first paid lawyers appearing in ancient Rome two thousand years ago.

Today’s lawyers, however, face a challenge their Roman predecessors did not — inordinately high student loan debt.

In fact, Earnest estimates the average law student leaves school $139,900 in debt.

That isn’t surprising considering the cost of tuition for one year at a private law school averaged $46,164 in 2017, according to U.S. News. Multiply that by three years of schooling, and you’re looking at a total tuition bill of $138,492.

Justin Lovely, now a lawyer at his own firm, encountered this financial hurdle on the way to getting his law degree. Read on to learn how Justin is tackling $120,000 in student loan debt, one monthly payment at a time.

Law school came with a high price tag

After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Justin went on to attend the Appalachian School of Law. Already $20,000 in debt from his undergraduate education, he took on an additional $100,000 in loans to pay for law school.

But Justin says he wasn’t concerned about the hefty debt at the time. “You’re in school and they tell you what the cost is, and you just do it,” he says. “Tuition, cost of books — and we haven’t even gotten to the cost of living, food, apartment, utilities, health insurance, gas, etc. You just do it and pray it works out!”

Justin took out a mix of private and federal loans with interest rates ranging from 4.00% to 8.50%. He also took out a private loan to finance the bar exam. Bar loans help students pay for the bar exam, which can cost $800 or more, according to data from the National Conference of Bar Examiners. You can also use them to cover living costs if you’re taking time off to study for the test.

In retrospect, Justin says that taking out a bar loan was a mistake. “If I could do it over … I would have never taken a bar loan. The interest rate [14.00%] is ridiculous.”

Job opportunities were scarce after graduation

Most student loans come with a six-month grace period before repayment kicks in. But six months isn’t always long enough to find a decent job, even among law school grads.

The American Bar Association reported that only 73 percent of graduates obtained full-time employment within 10 months of graduation. That means almost three out of 10 grads were still searching for work almost a year after law school.

Justin struggled with a tough job market after leaving school, which made paying off his loans impossible. “I deferred payments the first year, because the job market was awful,” says Justin. “The first year was about keeping the lights on, the phones ringing, and me fed.”

He also used this time to open his own practice, which eventually grew into the successful business he owns today. Once he got on his feet, Justin realized he had to take control of his student debt.

“After that year, I realized how the debt was compounding,” says Justin. “I needed to take it seriously or I would never see the light at the end of the debt tunnel.”

Justin took his loans out of deferment and got proactive about conquering his student debt.

He uses the debt snowball method to his advantage

Staring down more than $100,000 of debt, it was tough to know where to start. Justin knew he needed a game plan to deal with his student loans. He decided to give the debt snowball method a try.

“I used the snowball method to pay down these loans,” says Justin. “I became aggressive in paying back my loans, making several smaller payments throughout the month on top of my regular payment.”

The debt snowball method has you tackle your loans with the smallest balances first. You still make the required payments on all your loans, but you throw any extra money toward the smallest loans.

That way, you can completely pay off one debt before moving onto the next. Since you’re starting with the smallest balance first, you’ll get a quick win, which will motivate you to keep going. “The loans start to melt away,” says Justin.

Plus, making extra payments helps you get out of debt ahead of schedule. The faster you pay down your debt, the less you’ll spend on interest overall.

“I recognized that if I didn’t get on top of my student loan debt, I would be swimming in it forever,” says Justin. “Any extra income has been directed to my student loan debt, no matter how big or small.”

Justin paid off high-interest debt with a low-interest loan

Since Justin had six-figure debt, he also sought for ways to lower his interest rates. He decided to replace some of his student loans with a bank loan at a lower interest rate.

He qualified for a loan at a 1.99% rate and used it to pay off his student loans that had an interest rate of 6.80%. Although he still owed money to the bank, he was able to say goodbye to some of his student loan servicers.

Paying off a loan with another loan can help if you reduce your interest rate, as Justin did. But be sure you’re not spending more money in your effort to get out of debt fast.

If your new lender charges an origination fee, for example, you must factor that into your costs. Plus, you’ll need to keep paying all of your loan bills until you’re confident an account has been closed.

For many borrowers, a more straightforward way to lower your interest rate is through student loan refinancing. When you refinance, you transfer one or more loans into a new one with a bank, credit union, or online lender.

Depending on your credit score and income, you could qualify for lower interest rates. Plus, you can choose new terms, whether that means shortening your repayment period or adding a few years to give yourself some breathing room.

According to online lender CommonBond, attorneys were the second-most common occupation to qualify for refinancing in 2016. Because lawyers tend to have high incomes, they’re often strong candidates for student loan refinancing.

Whatever approach you choose, lowering your interest rate is a surefire way to save money on your debt.

Justin will soon be earning interest instead of paying it

Paying off a six-figure debt isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s possible to pay it back if you stick to it, like Justin did with the debt snowball strategy.

“I have tried to make a strong effort to get my student loans paid off as fast as possible,” says Justin. “If I stay on track I should be paid off by the end of next year.”

Although making extra payments isn’t easy, Justin is eager for his money to start working for him. “I have realized that I will be earning a lot more take-home pay once these payments are off my back,” says Justin.

Once student loan payments stop eating up his income, he’ll be able to redirect his money into investments. That way, his money will start working for him, instead of going to student loan debt and all the interest that comes with it.

Explore your options for paying off law school debt

If you’re a lawyer dealing with student loan debt, research your options for paying it off ahead of schedule.

Learn about the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods to find the best approach for you. Depending on where you work, you might also qualify for federal student loan forgiveness or state-funded student loan repayment assistance.

Whether you come up with a foolproof strategy or refinance for better terms, you can take steps toward a debt-free life.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Get real rates from up to 4 Lenders at once

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.