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“Live Well Be Well” panel discusses financial stress

Cleveland-Marshall College Of Law holds panel discussion to provide students with insight on how to deal with both the finanical and academic stresses that accompany law school

March 3, 2011

By Nora Breznai

Live Well Be Well, a motto Cleveland- Marshall Law School wants to promote to law students.

Two years ago, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association formed a Mental Health Taskf Force to help students deal with stress while in school and prepare for a career in law.

Starting in January, three panel sessions have been presented to conclude with the April Live Well Be Well Fair. Monday Feb. 28 was the last panel session titled Law School Finance and Debt Management.

“This was the best [turn out] so far,” said Valissa Turner, manager of Student Affairs, “the second session had about 10 and around 20 came the first one.”

The spacious Moot Court Room was scattered with law students munching on pizza listening to the panelist discuss debt and finance management.

Pat Morgenstern-Clarren, Ohio U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, was among the attorneys starting the panels to help law students. She explained the panels are informal programs to help inform law students on mental health.

“What can we do to help,” she said, “We are not mental health experts but we know finance and help [students] get a grip to lower stress.”

Morgenstern-Clarren has noticed an interest in students and thought the third panel had a remarkable turnout. In it’s second year they have had successful panels at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Marshall and soon going to extend to University of Akron.

The other three panelists included Lenore Kleinman, attorney and member of the Bar Admissions Committee, Ram Mayekar, division manager at Consumer Credit Counseling Services Inc. and Frederick Coombs, III, attorney at Youngstown based firm Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell.

Kleinman provided insight to the bar process explaining how 65 attorneys in Cuyahoga County and neighboring recruit. After the initial review, they have to be interviewed by two attorneys and approved by the same two attorneys.

She discussed and explained the importance of the questions law students will answers on issues of criminal records, drug/alcohol abuse, and credit card debt.

“How can you handle the finances of clients if you can’t handle your own,” Kleinman said, “How are they maintaining responsibility and can they take care of obligations.”

It stresses the importance of maintaining payments even if it’s at a minimum.
Multitasking and taking responsibilities are important traits that go along with the prestige of becoming an attorney.

Mayekar and Coombs each discussed and offered advice on debt and paying credit.

“Creation and practice of a budget is important and understanding where money is going and limit expenditures to budget,” Mayekar said.

The more you save the better and tracking spending accurately helps keep a good budget. Consumer Credit Counseling Services, which has been around for 55 years, offers free counseling to help create budget solutions.

“Face up to them [loans] and deal and don’t default payments,” said Coombs. He explained there are options such as deferments, forbearances, and even Federal Student Aid, which includes loan forgiveness for public service employees. There are even different options for loan payments.

There is a resource Christopher Lucak, assistant dean for Admissions and Financial, for law students on campus. He knows about debt and can aid in planning. Lucak said, “We can leverage and figure out the best way to use to get the best outcome.

February and July are the two times a year for the bar exam. Mary Jane McGinty, director of bar exam preparation and academic support, said in Feb. 2010 90 percent of first timers passed the bar and in July 84 percent of first timers passed.