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Manitoba law society introduces forgivable loans

|Written By Gail J. Cohen
Manitoba law society introduces forgivable loans
Under a new program, two Manitoba law students per year will be eligible for forgivable student loans.

The University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law and the Law Society of Manitoba have partnered in a program to give free tuition and living costs to students from remote communities who want to become lawyers.

A special law society committee struck to target access to justice issues in rural areas, concluded that people who grew up in smaller communities are more likely to practise law there. This new program aims to help such potential lawyers afford law school in the first place by offering forgivable loans to two students admitted to Robson Hall law school for September 2011.

The loans will help cover tuition and living expenses of up to $25,000 per year of law school. Forgiveness of 20 per cent for each year spent practising in an under-serviced community will serve as an incentive. The loan will be totally forgiven after five years of practice in under-serviced communities.

And after five years in the community, the program partners hope the new lawyers will be settled in and willing to stay for the long term.

“It’s an access to justice issue,” says Brenda Silver, the law society’s director of professional education and competence. “There are many under-serviced communities that likely have people who love their community and want to be lawyers, but can’t afford the training. This program aims to alleviate that hurdle and help these communities get lawyers.”

To be eligible to apply for the loan, prospective students must first apply for admission to the Faculty of Law by Nov. 1, 2010 and be offered a spot for September 2011.

For more information on the forgivable loans program, contact Silver at bsilver@lawsociety.mb.ca or at (204) 926-2024.

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