At Pine Tree Legal we provide legal services to student loan borrowers. Our clients come to us for assistance in applying for loan forgiveness or relief based on profession, disability, or school misconduct. 

Education is meant to be a gateway to success; an investment in oneself that will pay off for generations to come. It is an integral part of the American Dream. Unfortunately, student loan debt can mean that the pursuit of higher education may put families behind and farther from building any sort of generational wealth.


In Maine, the need for relief from student loan debt is acute: the average student debt is tenth highest in the nation, and 7% of those borrowers are in default.


With new borrower protections in place, and student loan debt pressures growing over the past several years, Pine Tree has increasingly made student loan work a priority as we have seen the ways in which it harms individuals, families, and communities.


Sophie Laing, a Yale Liman Fellow at Pine Tree, is an attorney who specializes in helping our clients navigate problems with their student debt, like disputing loans from a fraudulent school or negotiating debts that have been sent to collections. She offers support and information to our clients about their legal rights and options, something that can be useful if a lender or debt collector is engaging in unfair or abusive practices.


Sophie recently shared her most memorable cases so far have been two private student loan cases where we were able to settle the debt and save our clients (and their parents, who were co-signers on the loans) close to $50,000 each. Our clients expressed that this settlement was a huge relief for them and their families and changed their perspective on lawyers.

For more information visit: Student Loan Project | Pine Tree Legal Assistance (

Pine Tree staff invite you join in on our SUMMER IN MAINE BUCKET LIST!

Popham Beach * Reid State Park * Goose Rocks Beach * Old Orchard Beach * York Beach * Wells Beach * Willard Beach * Kettle Cove Beach * Rockland * Stonington * Isle au Haut * Harpswell * Boothbay Botanical Gardens * Bold Coast trail/Cutler Coast * Katahdin * Katahdin Shadows campground * Baxter State Park * Deboullie Public Land Reserve * Tumbledown Mountain (lake at the top, beautiful hike) * Acadia – hike the Precipice and Beehive (if you’re not afraid of heights)  * Jordan Pond House in Acadia (get a popover and hike The Bubbles) * Schoodic Peninsula/Point * Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor * Morse Mountain * Disc golf * White water rafting * Float trips – lower Kennebec, Saco, spot near Arundel * Venture Out trips like Pride paddle weekend & whitewater kayaking on the Deerfield * Moxie Falls * Eastport (including the pet parade in July) * Drive from Bangor to Bucksport on River Rd. down Penobscot River * The Dairy Port (on Main St. in Bucksport, can’t miss it!) * Observatory on the bridge in Bucksport * Fort Knox * The Pickled Wrinkle bar in Gouldsboro * Vasquez in Milbridge for AMAZING food * Houlton Farms (ice cream) * Nordic Heritage Center * Shore Thing restaurant in Lubec * The River Comics and Comedy Think Tanked podcast (; * Row of breweries in Portland (from Fox. St. to Anderson St., e.g., Lone Pine, Austin Street Brewery, Rising Tide… ) * Urban Farm Fermentory (especially the ghost pepper kombucha) * Steamboat and Oxbow Breweries – outdoor seating and they allow dogs! * Blueberry picking at Libby & Sons (and blueberry donuts and smoothies) * Kettle Cove Creamery * Ft. Williams Park * Eastern Promenade Trail in Portland * Evergreen Cemetery * Portland Art Museum * Cong Tu Bot * Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick and Portland * Bresca and the Honeybee in New Gloucester for ice cream * The Purple House for bagels and pastries * Mount Bigelow for biking and hiking * Coffee by Design for coffee/chai/donuts * Ferries in and around Portland and Casco Bay

Islands-Peak’s Island, Vinalhaven, Monhegan Island * Tennis and pickle ball at Eastern Prom in Portland * Seadogs game * Portland Zoo (which is a bar) in Portland * Baharat restaurant in Portland * Crown of Maine * Downeast Maine * Roque Bluffs State Park

Cobscook State Park and campground * Lighthouses * Thompson's Point in Portland for outdoor shows * Porter's Preserve * Strawberry picking * Farmers markets in Portland, Lewiston, Brunswick, and all over!

Sophie Laing

Yale Liman Fellowship Attorney, Student Loan Project

Pine Tree Legal Assistance

Portland Office

10 Months

Where did you go to law school?

Yale Law School

Why did you want to work at Pine Tree? What brought you to Pine Tree and what did you do before?

Before law school, I worked on access to justice issues in debt collection lawsuits in Massachusetts and Connecticut. I talked to hundreds of people who had racked up credit card debt due to mental illness, accidents, or simply to make ends meet. The people I spoke with were often distraught and ashamed, had no idea that they had any rights or options available to them, or were incredibly confused as to how an entity they had never contracted with was suing them for thousands of dollars.

Debt not only weighs on people financially, but also mentally, and can cause extreme stress and shame. This is true when it comes to student loan debt, which has burdened many- from individuals misled by predatory, for-profit schools to borrowers saddled with high-interest and inflexible private student loans to others struggling to find affordable repayment options or navigate possible avenues for relief. Even small student loans can balloon over the years due to interest and late fees. While many people are familiar with student loans through personal experience, and there has been a lot of media attention paid to the issue, options for getting relief from those loans remains opaque.

The Yale Liman Fellowship gave me an amazing opportunity to tackle these issues. In Maine, the need for access to relief from student loan debt is felt acutely: the average student debt is the eighth highest in the nation, and 10 percent of borrowers have student loan debt that is in default. Student loan debt has caused people in Maine to move out of state, forgo basic necessities, and postpone saving or investing in the future. I knew that at Pine Tree I'd be able to start my career off strong, at an organization full of dedicated people I could learn a lot from.

What is your favorite board game?

They aren't exactly board games, but I love Boggle and Yahtzee.

Tell us a fun fact about you!

When I was younger I had to wear an eye patch. Apparently this fun fact is not so unique at Pine Tree- almost everyone else on my Winter Games team also did!

Where is your favorite place in Maine?

I've really enjoyed taking the ferry around Casco Bay and exploring Peaks Island! I went to Acadia last fall and can't wait to go back.

What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of work?

I love playing squash, pickleball, and exploring Maine beaches and hikes.

If you could pick one song to play every time you enter a room, what would it be?

I've always loved "In a Big Country" by Big Country

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Copyright © 2021, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, All rights reserved.

Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a non-profit, is a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated on June 14, 1966. Our tax ID number is 01-02 79387. Pine Tree Legal Assistance is funded in part by the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”). As a condition of the funding received from LSC, Pine Tree Legal Assistance is restricted in certain activities in all of its legal work, including work supported by other funding sources. Pine Tree Legal Assistance may not expend any funds for any activity prohibited by the Legal Services Corporation Act, 42 U.S.C §2996 et. seq. or by Public Law 104-134. Public Law 104—234 §504(d) required that notice of these restrictions be given to all funders or programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation. For a copy of these laws or any further information, please contact: Executive Director, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, PO Box 547, Portland, Maine 04112; Tel. 207-774-4753.