Student Legal Services adopts a three-year action plan for the 50th anniversary
University of Iowa Student Legal Services celebrates its 50th anniversary by implementing a new three-year action plan.
The Office of Student Legal Services at the University of Iowa will implement a three-year action plan to improve its services to students as it commemorates its 50th anniversary on campus.
The plan was spearheaded by a review of the program in March, led by the National Section of Student Legal Services and the Council for Advancing Standards in Higher Education, according to the website of the Student Life Division of the University. UI.
One of those goals, which the office of student legal services has already achieved, was to secure funding for an immigration orientation program, said UI’s director of student legal services, Amanda Elkins.
Elkins said the office’s immigration services are limited because it’s a specialized area of law.
“We secured funding to be able to refer students to an immigration lawyer who focuses their practice,” she said. “We are also considering new educational programs.”
Elkins said Student Legal Services is also opening an expungement clinic, which will help first-offender students clear first-offence records.
UI’s Office of Student Legal Services was established in 1971, Elkins said, and was among the first in the nation.
“It’s also interesting to note that some of the reasons Student Legal Services started in the first place, which were related to the Vietnam War protests and civil rights protests, are still issues that students have need help today,” she said.
In addition to these services, Elkins said his team is considering reconfiguring their current offices or moving to a new location entirely. The Office of Student Legal Services is currently located in the Iowa Memorial Union.
According to an action plan on the Division of Student Life website, the office is “hard to find, unwelcoming, cramped, and requires time and resources to ensure privacy.”
Student Legal Services is also interested in paving the way for clearer communications between their staff and the Division of Student Life, Elkins added.
As previously reported by The Iowan Dailythe short-lived student advisory council was intended to serve as a conduit for voicing student concerns to student legal services, but Elkins said COVID-19 has rendered it obsolete.
To compensate for this, as well as a recent lack of in-person events due to the pandemic, the Office of Student Legal Services will use Student Life Communications – a strategic UI communications team – to better market its mission, according to the Student Life Site Division.
The communications are primarily aimed at freshmen and sophomores who have not had traditional orientations and may have missed the opportunity to learn about student legal services, according to its website.
Alyssa Pomponio, assistant attorney for UI Student Legal Services, said the office intends to work together to raise awareness of the office’s services to students, staff and faculty — who may refer students.
“We help in a variety of different practice areas,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you come to us proactively like, say, for a lease review, or if you need some kind of defense or something like that – if you’ve been charged with a crime, if you’ve been involved in some kind of internet scam and you’ve lost money, or you need a divorce.
Although 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of student legal services at UI, Elkins said celebratory events are still under consideration and uncertain.
“We’re hesitant to plan in-person events at this point, just because we don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID,” she said. “So we are currently focusing more on social media and reaching out to alumni. We could do a sort of roundtable on the history of student legal services – so we are still in the early stages of planning.