Banking & Finance, Human Resources, and Law

Law firm partners with financial company on student debt

August 10, 2016
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Mike McGee
Mike McGee. Courtesy Miller Canfield

As part of its recruiting and retention efforts, a law firm with several Michigan locations has partnered with a financial company to help its attorneys with student debt refinancing.

Mike McGee, principal and CEO at Detroit-based Miller Canfield said the firm recently partnered with Social Finance in San Francisco, or SoFi, to provide refinancing services to its attorneys and their family members.

Miller Canfield has 16 offices in five countries, including offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Troy.

As part of a new attorney’s introduction to the firm, they will be provided with information about the service and be able to reach out directly to SoFi for help.

McGee said employees benefit from not having to spend time doing the legwork in researching firms.

“We take on, in essence, the front-end cost or aggravation of searching through options,” he said. “People are free to look at other places. There’s no compulsion to this, but we try to do the homework about what programs are out there and come up with one that is a best fit.”

McGee said SoFi refinances federal and private student loans at rates that are as low as 2.15 percent APR and fixed rates as low as 3.5 percent.

McGee said on average, attorneys graduate from law school with $140,000 in student loan debt, and the new program aims to help “ease the financial burden.”

“The student loan issue is a big challenge,” he said. “Young people are coming out of undergraduate schools and professional schools with much higher student loan debt than used to be true, so it’s a significant burden for people as they start out in their professional careers.”

Studies have also shown annual salaries for new attorneys have decreased, making paying back student debt harder.

“This is not a perfect solution or the only solution, but hopefully it’s an approach that can help in addressing the issue,” McGee said.

McGee said he’s seen other firms across the nation begin to take on student loan debt in a similar way and thought the same type of program would help Miller Canfield compete for top talent. He also expects other Michigan firms will likely add a similar offering to their recruiting platforms.

Since launching just over a couple of weeks ago, McGee said Miller Canfield has had inquiries for the service from six attorneys, and he expects more will follow.

“I think because so many people carry student debt, over the course of the next two to three months, we will have many of those people taking advantage of it,” he said. “It’s an easy way to save money, and I think it will have a high participation rate.”

McGee said Miller Canfield will continue to focus on offering competitive salaries, mentoring and training programs, as well as provide new attorneys with interesting projects to work on as other ways of recruiting and retaining talent in its offices.

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