Public Act 096-0615
Public Act 0615 96TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
|Public Act 096-0615
||LRB096 03115 NHT 13131 b
AN ACT concerning education.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
This Act may be cited as the
Interest Attorney Assistance Act.
The General Assembly
finds the following:
(1) Equal access to justice is a basic right that is
fundamental to democracy in this State, and the integrity
of this State and this State's justice system depends on
protecting and enforcing the rights of all people and
quality enforcement of the laws of this State.
(2) Equal access to justice and quality enforcement of
State laws are integral parts of the general public
(3) Vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens of this
State are unable to protect or enforce their rights without
legal assistance from public interest attorneys.
(4) Graduating law students and practicing attorneys
are increasingly unable to continue in public interest
attorney positions because of high student loan debt.
(5) Assisting public interest attorneys with loan
forgiveness is a major step toward ensuring quality legal
representation for this State's most vulnerable citizens
and quality enforcement of State law.
(6) The collection and distribution of funds under this
Act promotes justice and is in the public interest.
(7) The use of funds for the purposes prescribed by
this Act are in the public interest and consistent with
providing equal access to justice and quality enforcement
of State law.
The purpose of this Act is to
encourage qualified individuals to enter into and continue in
employment in this State as assistant State's Attorneys,
assistant Public Defenders, civil legal aid attorneys,
assistant Attorneys General, assistant public guardians, IGAC
attorneys, and legislative attorneys in a manner that protects
the rights of this State's most vulnerable citizens or promotes
the quality enforcement of State law.
For the purposes of this Act:
"Assistant State's Attorney" means a full-time employee of
a State's Attorney in Illinois or the State's Attorneys
Appellate Prosecutor who is continually licensed to practice
law and prosecutes or defends cases on behalf of the State or a
"Assistant Attorney General" means a full-time employee of
the Illinois Attorney General who is continually licensed to
practice law and prosecutes or defends cases on behalf of the
"Assistant Public Defender" means a full-time employee of a
Public Defender in Illinois or the State Appellate Defender who
is continually licensed to practice law and provides legal
representation to indigent persons, as provided by statute.
"Assistant public guardian" means a full-time employee of a
public guardian in Illinois who is continually licensed to
practice law and provides legal representation pursuant to
"Civil legal aid" means free or reduced-cost legal
representation or advice to low-income clients in non-criminal
"Civil legal aid attorney" means an attorney who is
continually licensed to practice law and is employed full time
as an attorney at a civil legal aid organization in Illinois.
"Civil legal aid organization" means a not-for-profit
corporation in Illinois that (i) is exempt from the payment of
federal income tax pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code, (ii) is established for the purpose of
providing legal services that include civil legal aid, (iii)
employs 2 or more full-time attorneys who are licensed to
practice law in this State and who directly provide civil legal
aid, and (iv) is in compliance with registration and filing
requirements that are applicable under the Charitable Trust Act
and the Solicitation for Charity Act.
"Commission" means the Illinois Student Assistance
"Committee" means the advisory committee created under
Section 20 of this Act.
"Eligible debt" means outstanding principal, interest, and
related fees from loans obtained for undergraduate, graduate,
or law school educational expenses made by government or
commercial lending institutions or educational institutions.
"Eligible debt" excludes loans made by a private individual or
"IGAC attorney" means a full-time employee of the Illinois
Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, including the Office of
State Guardian, the Legal Advocacy Service, and the Human
Rights Authority, who is continually licensed to practice law
and provides legal representation to carry out the
responsibilities of the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy
"Legislative attorney" means a full-time employee of the
Illinois Senate, the Illinois House of Representatives, or the
Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau who is continually
licensed to practice law and provides legal advice to members
of the General Assembly.
"Program" means the Public Interest Attorney Loan
Repayment Assistance Program.
"Public interest attorney" means an attorney practicing in
Illinois who is an assistant State's Attorney, assistant Public
Defender, civil legal aid attorney, assistant Attorney
General, assistant public guardian, IGAC attorney, or
"Qualifying employer" means (i) an Illinois State's
Attorney or the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, (ii) an
Illinois Public Defender or the State Appellate Defender, (iii)
an Illinois civil legal aid organization, (iv) the Illinois
Attorney General, (v) an Illinois public guardian, (vi) the
Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, (vii) the
Illinois Senate, (viii) the Illinois House of Representatives,
or (ix) the Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau.
Public Interest Attorney Loan Repayment
(a) The Commission shall establish and administer the
Program for the primary purpose of providing loan repayment
assistance to practicing attorneys to encourage them to pursue
careers as public interest attorneys to protect the rights of
this State's most vulnerable citizens or provide quality
enforcement of State law. The Commission shall create an
advisory committee composed of representatives from
organizations with relevant expertise, including one person
from each of the following entities:
(1) The Illinois State's Attorneys Association.
(2) An office of an Illinois Public Defender.
(3) An office of an Illinois public guardian.
(4) The Office of the Illinois Attorney General.
(5) An Illinois metropolitan bar association.
(6) An Illinois statewide bar association.
(7) A public law school in this State.
(b) The Public Interest Attorney Loan Repayment Assistance
Fund is created as a special fund in the State treasury. The
Fund shall consist of all moneys remitted to the Commission
under the terms of this Act. All money in the Fund shall be
used, subject to appropriation, by the Commission for the
purposes of this Act.
(c) Subject to the availability of appropriations and
subsections (d) and (e) of this Section, the Commission shall
distribute funds to eligible applicants.
(d) The Commission is authorized to prescribe all rules,
policies, and procedures necessary or convenient for the
administration of the Program and all terms and conditions
applicable to payments made under this Act. This shall be done
with the guidance and assistance of the Committee.
(e) The Commission shall administer the Program,
including, but not limited to, establishing and implementing
(1) An application process. Subject to the
availability of appropriations, the Commission shall, each
year, consider applications by eligible public interest
attorneys for loan repayment assistance under the Program.
(2) Eligibility requirements. The Commission shall, on
an annual basis, receive and consider applications for loan
repayment assistance under the Program if the Commission
finds that the applicant:
(i) is a citizen or permanent resident of the
(ii) is a licensed member of the Illinois Bar in
(iii) has eligible debt in grace or repayment
(iv) is employed as a public interest attorney with
a qualifying employer in Illinois.
(3) A maximum amount of loan repayment assistance for
each participant, which shall be $6,000 per year, up to a
maximum of $30,000 during the participant's career.
(4) Prioritization. The Commission shall develop
criteria for prioritization among eligible applicants in
the event that there are insufficient funds available to
make payments to all eligible applicants under this Act.
The prioritization criteria shall include the timeliness
of the application, the applicant's salary level, the
amount of the applicant's eligible debt, the availability
of other loan repayment assistance to the applicant, the
applicant's length of service as a public interest
attorney, and the applicant's prior participation in the
(f) The distribution of funds available after
administrative costs must be made by the Commission to eligible
public interest attorneys in the following manner:
(1) Loan repayment assistance must be in the form of a
(2) To have the loan forgiven, the participant shall
(i) complete a year of employment with a qualifying
employer and (ii) make educational debt payments (interest
or principal or both) that equal at least the amount of
assistance received under the Program during the
(3) Each loan must be documented by means of a
promissory note executed by the borrower in a form provided
by the Commission and shall be forgiven when an eligible
participant meets the requirements set forth by the
Ineligibility and termination of funds;
(a) If a participant becomes ineligible during the term of
a loan, he or she must repay the outstanding amount of any loan
received from the Commission.
(b) The Commission may in its discretion forgive the loan
of a participant in whole or in part in certain circumstances
as set forth in its written policies and guidelines.
The Commission may make, enter
into, and execute contracts, agreements, leases, and other
instruments with any person, including without limitation any
federal, State, or local governmental agency, and may take
other actions that may be necessary or convenient to accomplish
any purpose authorized by this Act.
The State Finance Act is amended by adding
Section 5.719 as follows:
(30 ILCS 105/5.719 new)
The Public Interest Attorney Loan Repayment
Effective Date: 1/1/2010