Throughout their careers at university, many students may find that they require legal assistance but that they cannot afford the cost required to access such assistance. Campus Legal Services at the University of Saskatchewan has recognized and responded to this need.
The CLS is a student advocacy centre where students can find information and assistance regarding certain academic and legal matters that they may be facing. The centre is operated by law students at the U of S who are supervised by a lawyer.
The services offered by the centre include academic misconduct and appeals, non-criminal non-academic misconduct, landlord and tenant disputes, small claims courts under $10,000, automobile accident insurance appeals, student loan issues, non-complex human rights complaints and traffic and bylaw infractions. All of these services are provided to students free of charge.
Davida Bentham, a second-year law student and co-coordinator at CLS, describes what she is prepared to do for students on campus.
“Depending on the legal matter at hand and specific context, we will assist by providing legal information or we may take a more hands-on and involved position in the matter,” Bentham said, in an email to the Sheaf.
With busy schedules, it can be difficult for a student to juggle life while also succeeding academically. Many students may find themselves facing traffic fines, a dispute with a landlord or an academic issue. These issues can only increase the stress that students may already be under, and the centre is specifically designed to help guide students through the legal process and offer resources to help them navigate the legal system.
All services provided by the CLS are free to students because of financial support provided by the U of S Students’ Union and the Graduate Students’ Association. CLS can be found in the Arts Tunnel in the Safewalk Office. The centre’s office hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 to 4 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m, although office hours will vary by semester.
Bentham believes that the centre increases student access to legal knowledge.
“We see our services as addressing access to justice issues in the campus community. We support students to navigate through complex process, on and off campus, and [we are] responsive to the needs of the campus community,” Bentham said.
While the volunteers at the CLS centre will do their best to assist students with legal issues, Bentham reminds students that she and other volunteers at the centre are not lawyers.
“Because we are law students and not lawyers, we don’t provide legal counsel or advice,” Bentham said.
However, she goes on to say that CLS volunteers can reach out to their supervisors for further assistance.
“With that said, we can be the conduit between the students seeking legal advice and our supervising lawyer providing it,” Bentham said.
According to Bentham, CLS offers an essential service to students, free of charge, while also benefitting the student volunteers who run the program by providing them with real experiences of working with clients and dealing with various legal issues. This added experience means that volunteers are able to gain an edge in their field while helping out their fellow students.
Bentham states that CLS was created on campus because students in the College of Law saw the need for accessible legal services at the university and also the need for practical opportunities for law students.
“Most law schools have clinics similar to this, so the volunteers saw this as an essential service that the U of S was missing,” Bentham said.
In response to all of these issues, CLS helps students save time and money by offering resources that help them navigate the legal system.
Bentham is excited to offer her assistance to students in regards to legal matters. She encourages all students considering legal assistance to approach the centre as soon as they need help.
“We urge students to please come to us as soon as the issue arises, as these matters are often time sensitive and time consuming.”
Photo: Flickr / blogtrepreneur.com