Finding the right student loan lawyer is tricky. For starters, very few lawyers across the country focus purely on student loans. However, that doesn’t mean finding an attorney to take your student loan case is impossible.
In fact, recent policy changes have made it much easier to find a lawyer to help with your student loan issues.
The Historic Difficulty of Finding a Student Loan Lawyer
Until this year, finding a student loan attorney was often a massive struggle.
A primary reason for this problem is the fact that “student loan law” isn’t a discrete area of practice like criminal law or estate law.
Your student loan issue might require the services of a contract law specialist. You may need someone with expertise in consumer law. In the majority of cases, a bankruptcy attorney is needed.
Sadly, most bankruptcy attorneys refused to help with student loans. Between the way the law was written and the way the courts interpreted the law, a bankruptcy discharge was nearly impossible. Many attorneys considered pursuing this route a waste of their time and the client’s money.
Further Reading: Bankruptcy law with student loans moved slowly, but until last year, there was a cruel history that consistently made things worse for borrowers.
A Seismic Shift for Lawyers and Borrowers
In late 2023, the Department of Justice revised the internal policy for managing student loans in bankruptcy.
As a result of these significant changes, federal student loan borrowers have a much better shot of getting their student loans discharged in bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy attorneys have taken note, and now a far greater percentage are willing to take on student loan cases.
Critically, it means that if you call an attorney asking for student loan help, you are less likely to be shown the door. That attorney may take your case, or they may refer you to another attorney who can help.
Understanding Your Student Loan Issue
You don’t need a law degree to find the right lawyer. It is ok to call someone and learn that you called the wrong person.
Many lawyers are highly specialized, so it’s not unusual to call a handful before you find the right fit.
That said, a few different student loan circumstances may make one type of attorney a better starting point.
If a friend or family member isn’t holding up their end of things? Is your ex supposed to make student loan payments on a shared loan? Is your child not making payments on a loan you cosigned for?
These situations often require the help of a local attorney with a specialty in family law or contracts.
Did a bank or lender mislead you or lie? If you suspect fraud or illegal activity, an attorney specializing in consumer law is probably the best bet.
Is your loan unaffordable? If you are bombarded with collection calls or your wages are garnished, a bankruptcy attorney is probably the best bet. They can help you get your finances under control, sometimes without even filing for bankruptcy.
How to Find the Right Attorney
Some student loan issues deal with federal law. However, state laws often enter the equation.
For this reason, it is critical that you find someone local. Not only will it make communicating and meeting easier, but a local attorney should also have the state law expertise you need.
You can start by running a simple Google search for bankruptcy attorneys in your area or your state. Call or email them and explain that you need help with your student loans. If they can’t help, ask for a referral.
Sherpa Tip: If you have called local bankruptcy attorneys in the past and been rejected, don’t be afraid to call again.
The DOJ policy changes have caused a lot of bankruptcy attorneys to start helping student loan borrowers.
Getting Help with Your Search
In many states, the local or state bar association has a free attorney referral service. People who need legal representation can call the number.
Because things are changing quickly with bankruptcy attorneys, it’s possible that you still might struggle to find someone able to help in your area. If that happens, feel free to send me an email. I may be able to direct you to someone in your state who handles student loans in bankruptcy.