State of the Union: 3 Quotes that Matter to Law Students

By Neetal Parekh on January 28, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Whether or not you watched, listened, or read President Obama's address to Congress this week, even the bubble of law school can't completely shield you from the current state of the Union.  In sum, the economy. It was what was for dinner at the 2010 annual address by the nation's Chief Executive.

Parsing out the address more carefully, there are a few quotes that may resonate with law students.  Here are 3 to know, and why they matter to you, aspiring J.D.

  • the quote: "(I)n this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job."

from To increase college access and completion, the Administration will make student loans more affordable by limiting a borrower's payments to 10 percent of his/her income and forgives remaining debt after 20 years - 10 years for public service works. We will also make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The President urges the Senate to pass the American Graduation Initiative, which invests more than $10 billion over the next decade in reforming our nation's community colleges, promoting college completion, and moving toward the President's goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The President is also asking colleges and universities to do their share to make college affordable for all Americans cutting their own costs.

why it matters: An ode to higher education could impact the practice of law.  Making college more affordable according to the White House's interpretation could mean making graduate school more possible and public service more appealing. It has the potential to attract students to the field of law who may otherwise not have considered it. Would the President's initiative build a nation of more informed citizens...or just lead to more biting lawyer jokes?

  • the quote: "I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit - one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages."

from To get small businesses growing again, and growing our economy, the President has proposed a range of provisions that include tax incentives to spur investment; expanded access to capital and growth opportunities to create jobs; and increased support for entrepreneurship to foster innovation. He is proposing an employment tax credit for small businesses to encourage hiring, eliminating capital gains taxes on small business investments, extending enhanced small business expensing, and transferring $30 billion in resources from TARP to a new program to help community and smaller banks give small businesses the credit they need. The President and members of his Administration will announce additional details in the coming weeks.

why it matters: There has been significant talk of bolstering small business emanating from D.C.  If you are in law school and considering whether to take that "Law & Entrepreneurship" or another may want reconsider the former. If small businesses are going to grow, they will need attorneys to help them incorporate, to guide them about liability, and to assist them in filing patents and trademarks. If you're a 3L with no idea what to specialize or focus in, small business law may have just upped its ante.

  • the quote: "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections.  I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.  And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems."

from The President called for bipartisan support for legislation that will remedy the Supreme Court's unprecedented and troubling decision.

why it matters: Ah, to critique the Supreme Court. Professors do it all the time, and with your anointment into the legal arena through attending law school, you likely have a thing or two to say as well.  However, unlike you, me, or Professor Dupree, President Obama gave his critique directly to the Big 9. Whether you agree with the decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission or not, the President's comment takes a definitive jab at High Court and is a reminder that law and policy are inextricably intertwined. In case your future sees you seated at the Supreme Bench, be ready to be challenged for a major decision, face-to-face, and with the world as an audience.

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