Legislation is advancing in both houses of Congress to create a student loan repayment program for public sector attorneys who handle criminal cases, and prospects for final passage this year are strong, according to congressional and outside sources.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved and sent to the full Senate a bill sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that would establish within the U.S. Department of Justice a student loan repayment program for lawyers who agree to remain employed for at least three years as state or local criminal prosecutors, or as state, local or federal public defenders in criminal cases.

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