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April 18, 2024

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    “gAyPRIL” (Gay-April) continues on Falcon Radio, sharing a playlist curated by the Queer Trans Student Union, sharing songs celebrating the LGBTQ+ experience. In similar vein, you will enjoy Jeanette Winterson’s books if you find yourself interested in LGBTQ+ voices and nonlinear narratives. As “dead week” is upon us, students, we can utilize resources such as Falcon […]
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Spring Housing Guide

A Sit Down with Student Legal Services

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Student Legal Services comes up when students are paying for tuition every semester, but not everyone is sure they want to opt-in with the $9 fee it charges a semester. Rodney Fleming is one of two lawyers staffed at Student Legal Services, and he sat down to answer questions about the program.

How do students go about getting legal help?

          They call the office and say, “I’d like to make an appointment to see someone,” and our office associates out there check and make sure you’re a student at the University and you’ve paid the Student Legal Services fee, and they set you up with an appointment. Usually, you can get in the same day or the next day, depending on our court schedule. The office associate will ask, “tell me a little bit about why you want to talk to the attorney,” and that allows us to prepare a little bit but, you know, depending on what the issue is, typically we have like a half hour appointment. Now some issues are more complex, like an OVI (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol) for example, we’ll set aside an hour for that. Typically, it’s a half hour appointment.

What is your past experience and how does it differ from BG legal services?

          I worked at a litigation (personal injury) firm in downtown Toledo. It’s not all about the money. It’s truly about helping people. When I was in private proactive, a lot of your focus is on making money. That was sort of disheartening, when you go to law school because you want to help people, then you get into the private sector and you quickly understand you need to make money first. That’s what I really like about this job, it’s not about making money.

What services are provided?

          We tell students if you ever have any legal problem, at all, come and see us. There are certain limitations to what we do, but we will sit down and talk to you, almost any subject, and then make a determination on how far we can go with that for you. There are legal limitations, and then there are programmatic limitations, right? So the legal limitations, for example, would be if you wanted to sue the University. The legislations that allow us to exist specifically prohibits us from suing the University.  But then, there are also what they call programmatic limitations, just sort of the cost-benefit analysis for the $9-are we helping enough students to make it worth our while to do this type of case? So, bankruptcy, for example, we’ll talk to students about bankruptcy, give them advice, but we don’t actually do bankruptcy. But, what we’re trying to do here is trying to meet all those other legal needs that many students have that they don’t have access to in the private sector.

What do you see most in this office?

          For example, a traffic ticket, a speeding ticket. A student comes here, we will represent them in court on that traffic ticket, that speeding ticket, for no additional cost above the $9 participation fee that they’ve already paid. A student wouldn’t typically have access to — they’re not going to hire a private counsel — if we didn’t exist, a student would just try to deal with that speeding ticket on their own. They wouldn’t go and pay an attorney $500 to represent them on a $150 speeding ticket. It doesn’t make sense, but it is something that can significantly impact the student. So, we see a lot of traffic related stuff. We see a lot of criminal, alcohol related stuff. They just try to do it themselves, and they just end up getting themselves in situations that they’re not very effective. Whereas, with our $9, we can represent them in that, hopefully get them into a diversion program so that they get their case completely dismissed, and they can be successful in graduating and not having a criminal record. So, criminal and traffic are 50 percent, probably, of what we do. There is another 30 percent that is landlord tenant. So, same thing. We kind of level that playing field. We kind of level that playing field for them because this is our area of expertise.

How many students benefit from Student Legal Services?

          In October, we did 151 office consultations. We went to court 92 times for students. Last year, July 1 to June 30, … we saw over 1,700 students, you know, throughout that year. We went to court over 1,000 times for students.

Can students be helped if they are detained or ticked in areas outside Bowling Green?

                    We only represent in courts that students … might be in, like the Bowling Green municipal court. We have expanded to the Perrysburg municipal court. We also have connections to other Student Legal Services offices and many times, if a student has an issue in Columbus, we have a relationship with Ohio State Student Legal Services where we can refer that student to them, and they’ll just treat them like they were an OSU student. Same way with UT in Toledo. We can refer them to the OU (Ohio University) Student Legal Services as well.

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