There are many stresses related to going to college — financial, academic and, for some students, legal troubles. Luckily enough for students finding themselves in legal trouble, Carolina Student Legal Services is available, free of charge.
Carolina Student Legal Services is staffed by licensed attorneys, many of whom are UNC graduates.
“We’re professionally licensed attorneys, we’re not students," staff attorney Tristan Routh said. "There’s no additional costs. And then the other big thing, probably one of the most important things, everything that comes into our office is confidential. We do not report things to student government or student conduct or anybody else on campus.”
This may be comforting news to University students whose troubles have caused them to visit Carolina Student Legal Services. Sensitive topics often addressed by Carolina Student Legal Services include alcohol citations and landlord disputes.
There are, however, a few limitations on what Carolina Student Legal Services can provide. The organization cannot represent students in criminal situations or in civil suits filed against fellow students, the University or the state of North Carolina. While Carolina Student Legal Services does not directly handle immigration law, they bring in attorneys to offer workshops regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and similar topics.
“We have sponsored three different immigration forums where we brought in immigration attorneys that specialize in this area of law to talk about anticipated changes in DACA,” Fran Muse, director and staff attorney, said.
The DACA workshops are indicative of what the employees of Carolina Student Legal Services have described as their mission — to help UNC students with their legal quandaries, whether that means direct representation or not. Muse sees this as important, given that students are typically inexperienced with the law and don’t have enough money to hire their own lawyers.
“I see this office as taking the stress off of students when they have a legal situation. We try to help as much as we can, provide access to the court system when we can, we write demand letters to landlords,” Muse said. “Students are adults, they’re going to have issues with the law. We try to meet that need for students and remove the stress of the legal situation from them and do as much as we can to help.”
Carolina Student Legal Services has also helped to provide employment opportunities for former UNC students looking to work in law. Former Tar Heel Addison Day serves as the legal assistant for Carolina Student Legal Services, and sees it as his way of giving back to the Carolina community.
“I think it’s a good service and I think that we provide something that’s pretty valuable to students so it kind of makes me feel like my job has meaning when I come here. I’m not just punching a clock, I’m actually getting to help people,” Day said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.