Have you had an accident? Are you experiencing work related problems? Do you have issues with your landlord? The student legal and mediation services at Portland State may be able to help.
“Students have issues that could result in civil action or criminal action in Oregon,” said Kathleen Cushing, the coordinator and attorney for student legal and mediation services, “Our purpose is to minimize the effects those distractions will have on students.”
While the services are free, there are filing fees mandated by the court. Student fees fund this student service. Any student enrolled for one or more credits is eligible for student legal and mediation services.
Cushing said that the services help the students negotiate their legal issues and refocus the students back to the studies.
Cushing said the staff from the student legal and mediation services work with students on a variety of levels. She says a lot of the work is helping prevent problems form occurring.
“We try to get the best fit for the students,” Cushing said.
The “best fit” could include just legal advice or even referring the students to any service that could better help them.
No legal advice is given over the phone. Advising is given by appointment only.
According to the student legal and mediation services brochure, students should be prepared to provide factual information related to their legal issue. Students will need to provide dates, names, numbers, documents and other important information regarding their legal problem.
The staff from the student legal and mediation services assists typically 15 people a day.
Cushing was formerly the only attorney serving the Portland State student population. Last fiscal year the university hired on a second attorney for the student legal and mediation services.
Cushing said that there were 100 more students seeking services this January than last January. She added that students are also making more wills than before.
“I don’t know if it is related to 9/11, but it may be,” Cushing said.
Cushing said that there are also a lot more criminal cases. She it may be due to the fact that the student legal and mediation services is now discussed during orientation.
The student legal and mediation services have been on campus for over two decades.
According to Cushing, the services originated because students felt they needed “someone on their side” to assist them with legal problems.
Cushing said the service works like a normal law office. Typically only 10 percent of the cases are in-court matters, as with other law offices. Most cases do not go to trial due to negotiation.
The student legal and mediation service also present to student groups and sponsor several workshops relating to legal issues.
“We work here so that we can be educational,” Cushing said.
For more information, contact the student legal and mediation services at 503-725-4556. The office is located in Smith Memorial Center 401C, and is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.