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Legal services for Ohio State students expand with new fee

Ohio State officials said students will soon have access to more legal coverage, but it will come at a yearly cost of $40.

The Student Legal Services will replace the Student Housing Legal Clinic starting Aug. 1.

SHLC only covers landlord and tenant matters, said Elizabeth Cooke, clinical professor of law at Moritz College of Law.

“The services (of the program) will be greatly expanded,” Cooke said.

After the change to SLS, the program will also cover criminal and civil cases, Cooke said. For example, if a student is caught with alcohol underage, they will be able to go to SLS for representation.

According to the Moritz College of Law website, the scope of the services will include landlord/tenant disputes, criminal misdemeanors, consumer transactions, traffic offenses, uncontested domestic matters and document drafting.

Cooke said one of the main differences between the SLS program and the current SHLC clinic is the fee. Currently, students can walk in and pay for the service if they use it. With these changes, the fee will have to be paid at the beginning of the year she said.

“I’ll probably waive out of it so I don’t have to pay it,” said Lynsay Carrigan, a third-year in human development and family science.

All students will be initially charged the fee unless they opt out, said Cooke. If a student decides they want to use the services, they will have to wait until the next year.

“This will be an opportunity for students to have more support in terms of legal service needs,” said Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life. “And they can opt out of that service, but for $40 a year they can have the full service.”

Cooke compared the service to buying an insurance policy.

She said it’s great if you never need it, but often people don’t realize they need insurance until it’s too late if they don’t already have it.

Catherine Broomfield, who graduated from Moritz College of Law in May and worked at the Student Housing Legal Clinic, said students should take advantage of the fee.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Broomfield said.

She said she thought SLS would be most useful in helping students deal with drinking violations.

Jeff Rehmar, a fourth-year in international studies, said he thinks SLS would be useful, but he would probably waive the service if he weren’t graduating.

Rehmar said he has used SHLC before to go over a housing lease from a landlord.

The new SLS will still do lease reviews with students and cover all landlord issues, Cooke said.

Cooke said practicing attorneys will provide representation through the SLS. It’s undetermined if student interns will be part of the office.

“It’s just like going into a law office,” Cooke said.

The service does have limitations. No campus organization, student business, student club, fraternity, sorority or “other such entity” can be represented.

According to the SLS website, students will be billed separately for some investigative work, travel costs and other expenses. The services do not cover felony cases or disputes with other students or faculty.

Also, no student under Academic Misconduct or in a Student Judicial Affair hearing can be represented.

The Board of Trustees approved the broader SLS in the fall, Adams-Gaston said.

“(SLS) tried to focus their scope on matters that effect students,” Cooke said. “They want students to be as successful as possible.”

Thomas Bradley contributed to this story. 

 

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 24, 2011

An earlier version of this story stated that Student Legal Services will replace Student Housing Legal Services, which is university-run. In fact, Student Housing Legal Services is called Student Housing Legal Clinic and it is not university-run.

 

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