Legal service provides affordable resolutions

by Erin Ghere

Students with legal problems often don’t know where to turn; lawyers are too expensive for their dilemma, but dropping the matter seems unfair.
That is where the University Student Legal Service can step in.
Some students will never need the service, but those who use it can save money and win cases they otherwise might not be able to pursue.
Landlord and tenant conflicts make up almost half of the cases the service deals with.
Staffed by five attorneys, two legal assistants and law clerks, the service also provides help in areas such as family law, immigration matters, criminal misdemeanors, DWI defense, credit problems, name changes, simple wills and notarization.
Registered students who have paid their student services fees are eligible. University students who are taking a semester off can still get advice from the legal service in limited circumstances.
The first time a student seeks advice from the office, there is no fee. For further service, flat rates range from about $15 to $325 for services such as document preparation and court representation. The flat rate means that fees are not contingent on how long a student seeks legal services.
Clients are also responsible for any court costs associated with their case, such as fines or court filing fees.
The service cannot handle felonies, cases that have already been opened elsewhere or cases arising outside of the metro area, which includes Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties.
In addition, because the service is part of the University community, it will not handle complaints against the University or other University students to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
In the event that a student’s problem falls under this category, he or she will be referred to other legal counsel.
The student legal service also publishes a variety of brochures that are not to be taken as legal advice, but can help students get an overview of a legal area, according to the service’s Web site.
Brochures are available on power of attorney, credit reporting, debt collection, custody, divorce, drunk driving, misdemeanors, and court locations and appearances. The service also publishes a Tenant Resource Guide.
The office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Erin Ghere welcomes comments at [email protected].