Mimi Dane '89: "Paying Forward" by Helping Others Pay Back
Even as a student, Mimi Dane's leadership ability and commitment to community service were evident. She and many of her classmates were troubled by the fact that economic factors discouraged students from choosing a career in public interest law, a concern shared by the faculty and college administration. Together, they sowed the seeds for the Moritz Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), a plan that helps make full-time public service work a viable option for more Moritz students, and ultimately helps government and nonprofit organizations provide quality legal assistance to those who need it most.
"As a class, we talked about the number of students working for larger firms. Many chose that route, but a number chose public service work – positions that clearly do not pay remotely close to the salary at large or medium sized firms – but these students carry the same amount of debt," Mimi says.
The students solicited donations for the program as part of their class gift and the loan repayment program took root. At the time, Mimi chaired the college committee formed to coordinate the program; she has been a staunch supporter ever since. Through the program's ripple effect, supporters have a powerful and lasting means to touch the lives of those who rely on the government agencies and nonprofit organizations for legal aid.
"LRAP is a way to give back to the broader community and contribute to social change," Mimi says. "By supporting LRAP, all of us can contribute in a very fundamental way."
Today, the Moritz LRAP is stronger than ever, reflecting the college's mission to instill in students a commitment to use their legal skills for the betterment of society. The need for the program is greater than ever, considering that the average student debt load for a Moritz graduate is between $65,000 and $70,000, and starting salaries for jobs in the nonprofit or government sectors are often less than half of those of private employers.
A new intiative was launched this month for Moritz students. To help defray law school loan debt, students who accept full-time employment with a public interest or government employer at a salary of $38,000 or less are eligible to receive a one-time payment of $4,000; this amount is forgiven after a year of employment. The forgivable loan lessens the financial barriers that sometimes prevent graduates from accepting positions with government and legal services employers, giving attorneys the opportunity to assist underserved populations by helping employers who serve such clients.
For Mimi, a partner with Squire Sanders & Dempsey, giving back to the community is every bit as important as her legal work in the private sector. Her practice focuses on commercial litigation, particularly business contract issues, intellectual property disputes, and corporate control contests. She also has extensive experience with public sector matters including constitutional claims and defenses, public contract and bid disputes, and governance issues.
After graduation and a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Louis Pollak in Philadelphia, Mimi joined the Squire Sanders team in 1990. She feels fortunate to work with a firm that shares her belief in community involvement.
In addition to her work for LRAP, Mimi is involved with a host of other progressive causes. She is on the board of directors of the Women's Fund of Central Ohio, an organization that provides grant funding to promote social change for women and girls in Central Ohio, and she is a member of The Ohio State University President's Council on Women's Issues. An avid runner, she is on the Columbus Marathon Board of Directors, and volunteers with the Columbus Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.