Students have law options

Mar 312004
Authors: Christiana Nelson

When David Fetter’s former roommate did not understand why his

apartment complex refused to return his security deposit, he sought

legal assistance.

After an attorney evaluated the lease documentation and

explained why the deposit was not refunded, Fetter’s roommate

decided not to pursue the issue.

While he did not receive any money back from his deposit, he did

save money on legal fees by using Student Legal Services, a free

university legal service for full-time students.

“They talked to my roommate and he figured out he didn’t have

anything to go on,” said Fetter, a senior watershed science major.

“Even though I’ve never used the service, I definitely think that

it is important as an insurance sort of thing.”

Students primarily seek the university legal office for help

with housing leases, but the office assists students with concerns

ranging from consumer issues to divorces.

Crystal Foos, a junior mathematics major, said almost every

student can benefit from legal aid with their lease.

“I think the lease would be the most helpful service for

students because it is something we all go through and most of us

are pretty new at doing leases,” Foos said.

Student Legal Services offers legal aid and advice free of

charge, aside from student fees, excluding a typing fee of $50 for

uncontested divorces and a fee of $30 that pertains to individual

wills and to adoptions.

The only restrictions to the university legal service are

immigration law, tax matters, business law and corporate

partnership, due to incompatibility between the possible longevity

of those services and the period of time students remain at


Attorney Kevin Daley, the director of Student Legal Services,

said the program resembles a general law office in the services it

provides, but is also focused on helping students understand the


“It is extremely important for students to learn legal rights

and responsibilities,” Daley said. “Students wouldn’t normally have

access to legal services that would help them negotiate the legal


This legal access would not normally be available to students,

especially at the price of $3.87 per semester for full-time

students, said Noah Friesen, a senior civil engineering major.

“It would be a lot more expensive to go to an outside lawyer to

get advice,” Friesen said.

Kimi Jackson, the second attorney at Student Legal Services,


“I enjoy working for an office where we provide services to

everyone, whether they can afford it or not,” Jackson said.

She also said that unlike general law offices, the university’s

public interest legal office focuses on helping students remain in

school throughout their legal battles.

“Legal problems can cause students to have difficulty and to

lose money that they would put toward school,” Jackson said. “We

help students avoid problems; it’s called preventative law. It is

always better to avoid problems than to solve them.”

Students who do not feel comfortable visiting the office,

located in the hallway north of the University Bookstore at 182

Lory Student Center, have the option of accessing information

through the program’s new Web site at, Daley


The Web site’s links contain descriptions of the office’s

services and on-file legal documents, including checklists and

pre-reviewed leases that students can access.

Regardless of whether students have used the service in the

past, Daley said it is important to have legal assistance on campus

because legal problems can become a part of anyone’s situation.

“It’s more like an insurance plan,” Daley said. “If you need to

use the service you’re getting a great deal and if you don’t, it’s

good to have just in case you need assistance.”

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