For many young attorneys, public service is a luxury they simply can’t afford. To pay off their student loans, graduates feel compelled to accept higher-paying positions in the private sector. The result: Some never realize their true aspirations, and the pool of talented, idealistic lawyers available to our public institutions is diminished.
To address this problem, the School of Law created the Virginia Loan Forgiveness Program in 2001. Thanks to VLFP, hundreds of graduates have built careers in government and nonprofits. “Loan forgiveness is a linchpin of the school’s commitment to ensuring that our students have every opportunity to pursue careers in the public interest,” said Risa Goluboff, dean and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law. “The result is a proud roster of UVA law graduates who serve in the highest levels of government, as human rights and NGO lawyers, and in legal aid and public defender offices throughout the country.”
We are in the business of making the hopes and dreams of our students come true and of enabling them to fulfill the public trust they hold as lawyers…”
Private support is critical to sustaining this program. In 2016, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, under the leadership of trustees William A. Slaughter and R. James Slaughter, made a $750,000 gift to endow the James C. Slaughter Public Loan Forgiveness Fund. The gift honors their late uncle, James C. Slaughter (Col ’49, Law ’51), who served as managing director of the foundation for almost 30 years. Slaughter held a number of major positions in his career, including partner in the law firm of Hahn & Hessen. He also served as a director of the Metropolitan Opera and a trustee of Carnegie Hall.“Jim Slaughter always embraced the Law School’s needs and was the first to fund them,” Goluboff noted. “Like Jim, Bill and Jamie have a commitment to excellence in legal education, and they recognize UVA Law as one of the leaders in the field.”
The Goldsmith Foundation has been one of the Law School’s most generous and consistent benefactors. Over the years, the foundation has made gifts to support professorships, scholarships, student organizations, and the David A. Harrison III Law Grounds. “Jim’s support for the Law School went back to 1981,” said David Ibbeken (Law ’71), president emeritus of the Law School Foundation. “He was always responsive to the dean’s priorities.”
The VLFP defrays all or a portion of loan payments for graduates making less than $75,000 and who enter qualifying employment within two years of graduation or of completing a judicial clerkship. Graduates may remain in the loan forgiveness program for up to 10 years.
The experience of Joseph Lockinger (Law ’13) highlights the power of the program. He joined the Labor and Employment Division of the New York City Law Department as an assistant corporation counsel, where he has handled cases in both state and federal court from initial to final disposition. “Overall, I found my work to be demanding, intellectually engaging, and rewarding,” he said. “The Virginia Loan Forgiveness Program allowed me to work in the public interest without feeling overwhelmed by my student loans.”
The James C. Slaughter Loan Forgiveness Fund will provide far-reaching assistance for UVA Law graduates and for everyone who benefits from the many men and women devoted to public service.
“We are in the business of making the hopes and dreams of our students come true and of enabling them to fulfill the public trust they hold as lawyers,” Goluboff said. “We could not do either without our loan forgiveness program and the generosity of donors like the Goldsmith Foundation.”
As managing director of the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the late James C. Slaughter (Col ’49, Law ’51) helped to address some of the Law School’s most pressing needs. To date, the foundation’s giving to the school totals more than $16.9 million, including: