In 26 years of college, graduate school, law school and bar exam prep, Robert Bowman amassed $400,000 in debt — including hefty penalties for never making a single payment. Now, after passing the New York bar exam on his fourth try, Bowman, 47, has been denied a license to practice law, reports the New York Times.
In January, the committee of New York lawyers that reviews applications for admission to the bar interviewed Mr. Bowman, studied his history and the debt he had amassed, and called his persistence remarkable. It recommended his approval.
But a group of five state appellate judges decided this spring that his student loans were too big and his efforts to repay them too meager for him to be a lawyer.
It’s a weird story. Bowman was hurt badly in an accident as a young man, but did an injured leg really make it impossible to earn college credits — or money — for six years? Why did he go to England for an unnecessary master’s in law after completing his law degree? Why not work as a paralegal while trying to pass the bar exam? And, of course, how did he keep qualifying for loans without making a single payment?
At my daughter’s law school graduation, one graduate wheeled herself on stage in her chair, accompanied by her service dog. She’d earned her degree in three years, despite serious physical disabilities. I bet she pays her bills too.
If Bowman wins his appeal and gets his license to practice law, he may remain unemployed. Financial irresponsibility and a poor work record will make it hard to compete with all the other new lawyers out there, most of whom didn’t need four tries at the bar exam.
Normally, I’m a big fan of persistence. But not on my dime.