Joanna Adler

  • Hosted by Public Counsel
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • Issue area Consumer Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Joanna combats predatory and abusive debt collection practices targeted at low-income student borrowers through direct representation, litigation, educational outreach, and policy advocacy.

Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. One out of every four student borrowers are either currently in default on their loans, or struggling to make repayments. Low-income student borrowers bear the majority of the student debt burden and are more likely to default on their loans. Without legal assistance, low-income students who sought an education to create better lives for themselves and their families will be trapped in the cycle of poverty for generations to come.

Fellowship Highlights

In the first year, Joanna has:

  • Provided direct services to 38 low-income student borrowers.
  • Pursued impact litigation on behalf of former students of a for-profit school who are now being sued for alleged debt procured by fraud.
  • Negotiated settlements on behalf of individuals defending collection lawsuits related to outstanding alleged student-loan debt.

What’s Next

  • Create a digital “yes or no” quiz for student borrowers to identify whether they are victims of unfair debt collection practices that may be responsive to legal remedies, and provide these students with direct representation or resources.
  • Provide direct services to 15 low-income student loan borrowers to help them assert their rights against debt collectors and for-profit school that have engaged in predatory, illegal, and deceptive practices.
  • Continue litigation of the class action on behalf of former students of a for-profit school who are now being sued for alleged debt procured by fraud.

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Host: Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

Sponsor: Fenwick & West LLP

Lea Weems

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Sponsor: DLA Piper LLP (US)

Sean Burke

Host: Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis

Sponsor: Family of Hyman Edelman, Leonard, Street and Deinard

Amy Marshall Mix

Host: National Consumer Law Center

Sponsor: Anonymous