Am Law and Law360 Highlight Akin Gump’s Role in Student Loan Debt Refinancing Program

Akin Gump director of retirement benefits Jessica Chicorelli and financial restructuring associate Matthew Kinskey were quoted in the Am Law Daily article “More Law Firms Take Aim at Associate Student Loan Debt,” which reports on the growing number of law firms adopting initiatives to help their lawyers refinance their law school loans at reduced rates. Akin Gump is one of several firms noted in the article as partnering with Social Finance Inc., or SoFi, and its law school debt program.

According to the article, SoFi has loaned about $8 billion to employees at more than 300 companies, including law firms. The average lawyer working with SoFi saves $25,000.

Chicorelli told the publication that Akin Gump launched its SoFi program in July 2015 after she noticed associates were not contributing very much to their retirement plans and realized it was likely due to many having other expenses tugging at them.

“The lightbulb went off for me that they’re dealing with other things, so let’s give them a tool for that,” Chicorelli said. By the end of last year, 53 employees had refinanced $6.3 million in loans. The firm now invites SoFi representatives to give a presentation at the firm’s associate orientation.

Kinskey said he had refinanced his student loans with a different program, but switched to SoFi when Akin Gump announced its partnership with the company because he could get a better rate. “It’s something that’s a very real concern,” he said.

In the Law360 article “BigLaw Embraces Student Debt Refinancing As Retention Tool,” Akin Gump chief operating officer Sally King said, regarding the decision to launch the SoFi program, that the firm “sought to provide an array of benefits” that enhance the lives of employees, both in the office and outside of it. She added, “Our partnership with SoFi was born out of an understanding that debt is a significant burden on many throughout the legal industry, and we’re thrilled not only to be able to offer this benefit, but also that so many of our employees have found it to be valuable.”