Home > News, Stories > Harvard Law Grad Burns Diploma

Harvard Law Grad Burns Diploma

I came across this story today in the ABA Journal about “Jack,” a 30-something lawyer on a quest to lead a simpler life.  As part of his journey, he decided to torch his Harvard Law School diploma; he posted the video of the burning on YouTube.  Jack had gone to law school to become a public interest attorney, “And then the reality of incurring $120,000 of law school debt plus the allure of making a six-figure salary changed everything.”

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  1. November 3, 2008 at 2:16 am

    wish I was only 30 and had a degree in something that would actually get me a job so i could pay my loans. He’s ungrateful.

  2. November 3, 2008 at 2:33 am

    I want to know who to report the fact that Sallie Mae is calling me after 9:00 p.m. This is against the law.

  3. studentloanstories
    November 4, 2008 at 3:59 am

    Let me respond to your second comment first. I’m not sure who you would report such calls to, but I would consider contacting the Better Business Bureau, http://www.bbb.org. Another possibility would be to find a legal aid organization in your area that deals with consumer rights issues. Contact your local or state law library or the closest public law school – they usually have phone numbers for legal aid clinics in the area.

    As to the first comment, I understand that it must be frustrating to hear stories about people who are not struggling as hard as you or others, but I think it’s important to remember that we are all in this together.

    The person mentioned in that article was, of course, lucky in some ways, but he too paid a price – yes, he was able to pay off his student loans, but at the cost of sacrificing his dream to work in public interest law. Part of the reason I started this site was to show the many different ways in which people’s lives are controlled by their student debt. Some people are, of course, going to have it much harder than others, but I think we do a disservice to ourselves when we turn the issue into a contest for who has it the worst.

    Look at it this way; above, I recommended that you search for a Legal Aid Clinic that might be able to help you, even as I cringed to myself fearing that you won’t be able to find anyone because that particular career path is so under-served. And the reason it’s underserved is that good, qualified people like the man in this story are taking higher paying jobs that they may not want or like because they have too much debt to go into public service. So, you see, even the stories of “the lucky ones” are important because their loss ultimately trickles down to everyone else.

  4. November 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Yes, I see your point. However, when you’ve had the life I’ve had, and can’t get ANY job because of intense age discrimination and how I don’t fit into New York City’s rampant affirmative action slots, I can’t feel sorry for someone who can’t realize their “dream.” If he went to law school, why can’t he be a lawyer?

    I can’t get any job! I also have a disease that will kill me and is zapping all my strength. I take care of a schizophrenic husband. He is on SSI. So, even if I get a temp job here and there, and I make more than a lousy $240 a month, SSI takes money from my husband and we are right back where we started, and so I can’t pay the loan payment, so we can still pay rent, etc.

    The government has not kept SSI laws and student loan laws coordinated and up to date and I am caught in the middle and suffering.

    When you are dirt poor after graduating from an elite private university, when you have been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, when you have won a literary prize ( used the money to make loan payments but then delinquent away) , when I’ve been published in 85 literary journals, and I can’t even get a proofreading job or an editorial assistant job because I’m “too old”, I have a hard time feeling sorry for someone else. AND I can’t get a retail or other “survival” job because they laugh in my face – say “what do you want this for?” A job like that wouldn’t help anyway, because after taxes, I would barely make a profit that could pay the loans. AND they would take my husband’s SSI money. So, there are stories like mine out there that are really insurmountable.

    The reason I turned the comments section OFF on my blog is because a certain piggy man hired by Sallie Mae harasses me and tells me he’s going to beat up my husband and that I should commit suicide because I can’t pay my loans on a regular basis.

    One more thing – I did pay off my first student loans when I was still “employable.”

    All the terrible things people say about Sallie Mae are true. They cheat, lie and steal and harass and threaten violence. They “lose” payments, don’t credit payments and the Ombudsman of the Dept. of Education is a jerk too. He called me and said Sallie Mae DID have the right to call after nine o’clock. Well, they DO NOT.

  5. Nanette Rayman Rivera
    June 10, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Damn it, this is about me not having to work! I am above work you SCUM. I am above paying my bills you TOAD. I am the overman, I am the gut of greatness. How dare you trash get in my way!!!

  6. studentloantruth
    July 17, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Slothful people who wallow in their messes are an embarrassment to us all. Whiners like you only reinforce stereotypes. Nanette, while student loans have harmed a lot of people, all the suffering you describe is your own doing.

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