Commentators on the sad state of unemployed and underemployed JDs with six-figure student loan debt may be unduly pessimistic. They continue to cite the reality that Congress enacted the law in 1976 and then strengthened it in 1990 and 1998 that prevented the student loan debt to be eliminated in a bankruptcy filing.
However, research shows, reports THE NEW YORK TIMES, that those who go to court pleading "undue hardship" ofen can get rid of their student debt. That's even possible if they represent themselves, that is go pro se. So, no, starving JDs, you don't even need a lawyer to attempt this Hail Mary pass. And, a Hail Mary pass it is since judges struggle with how to define "undue hardship." In addition, even if you win your case, both federal and private lenders will probably appeal.
But, it's worth a try. For example, unlike the grim statistics provided by the Educational Credit Management Corporation about winners in the process, recent numbers from other sources tell a different story. As THE NEW YORK TIMES points out, academic researchers Rafael Pardo and Michelle Lacey found that of 115 filings 57% got some or all the student loan debt tossed. Another researcher Jason Iuliano found of 207 cases from around the nation 39% also got some or all the debt killed. In addition, Iuliano noted that the outcome was not dependent on the use of a lawyer versus pro se representation.
The lesson here is the same lesson that applies to hunting for work in a changing economy: Don't listen to the experts. Do your own research and thinking. Then experiment.