Law Firms

Latham associates refinance $13M in student debt, thanks to firm's efforts

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More than 100 associates at Latham & Watkins have refinanced $13 million in student debt at lower rates as a result of the firm’s efforts.

Latham & Watkins contacted banks in 2014 after new associate Sharon Casola spoke with the firm’s chief operating officer, LeeAnn Black, about student debt, the Am Law Daily reports. Casola was paying interest rates of more than 7 percent.

“I knew that our associates, some of them have debt, but I had no idea they were paying rates that high,” Black told the Am Law Daily. “I said, ‘Give me a couple weeks, and I’ll speak to some of my contacts at banks.’ ”

First Republic Bank Co. agreed to refinance student loans exceeding $50,000 at rates as low as 2.5 percent. Bank officials attended the orientation for associates this year to help them start the refinancing process.

Another bank working with Latham to refinance student loans is Social Finance Inc., which is known as SoFi. It offers refinancing of loans of less than $50,000 at slightly higher rates. Casola is using that bank’s program.

Student loan expert Heather Jarvis told the Am Law Daily that bank refinancing programs for student loans have disappeared since the 2008 recession. The Latham program “sounds like the kind of model program that other firms could evaluate and say, ‘Hey, could we do that too?’ Jarvis said.

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