Response to Sean Flynn’s Guest Opinion

BY ACOPPERMAN@MLRI.ORG

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the Guest Opinion by Sean Flynn published last week concerning the Low Income Protection Plan (LIPP) for HLS graduates who pursue public interest law.

As a LIPP participant, I do not think that the program is an “abject failure” as Mr. Flynn describes. I graduated in 1998 and am about to enter my fifth year of loan repayment. I have worked in legal services in Boston since graduation. I am married to a public school administrator, and we have a two year old child. We purchased a condominium in Arlington in 1999 for which we pay a mortgage. We pay for day care for our daughter. Mr. Flynn claims that it is impossible to buy a house or have a child after year three on LIPP, yet here I am.

LIPP is one of many factors that have contributed to my family’s financial situation. Through LIPP, I get approximately $10,000 each year tax free-that’s a pretty big asset in our bank account. This is not to say we don’t make some hard choices. We recently gave up the goal of buying a single family home in our neighborhood because of the prohibitive cost, and chose instead to stay in our condo long term.

I don’t compare my life to HLS graduates who are working at firms, because there is no comparison. My husband’s and my salaries combined do not equal a starting firm salary. But I came to law school seeking a public interest career, not the kind of wealth available to firm lawyers. When I look at our friends who work in the non-profit sector-advocates, teachers, social workers-our financial profile is comparable. We experience the comforts and struggles of the middle class-no more, but no less.

Most importantly, what Mr. Flynn never mentions in his grim portrayal is that LIPP allows participants to do jobs they love. This is worth a great deal to me.

Mr. Flynn’s story is not the only LIPP story; neither is mine. There are hundreds of LIPP participants, and students shouldn’t assume that any experience is typical. Therefore, although I do not share Mr. Flynn’s personal experiences, I support his call to create a watchdog group, and if needed, to improve the program for current and future participants.

Sincerely,

Amy Copperman ’98

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