A new Wisconsin bill would pay off law school loans for attorneys who agree to represent low income criminal defendants in rural counties.
Senate Republican Patrick Testin of Stevens Point says most new lawyers believe the only way they can pay off their law school debts is to work in Milwaukee, Madison, or Green Bay. The bill proposes loan payoffs of 20-thousand dollars a year for rural defense lawyers who agree to serve indigent clients that public defenders cannot. It would be a two year pilot program costing 500-thousand dollars -- with goals of getting both new lawyers to serve poor people in rural areas, or encourage existing attorneys in those regions to serve poor clients. Many don't because the state charges the nation's reimbursement rate of 40-dollars an hour -- which has not changed since 1992.