By Wyatt Crosher, Student Affairs Communications Coordinator
Often, students don’t know where to turn when facing legal issues such as a dispute with a landlord, questions about powers of attorney or the general filing of legal documents. Now, there is a campus resource that can help.
UNC Charlotte Student Legal Services, Inc. (SLS) is a new program available to UNC Charlotte students. SLS is a separate nonprofit corporation that operates on campus pursuant to an agreement with the University.
Located in Suite 126 of the Popp Martin Student Union, SLS provides enrolled students with confidential legal advice and limited legal representation at no additional charge. The staff is also available for presentations to student groups and academic courses on legal rights and responsibilities.
"There's a lot we can do. The goal is that if you walk into the office, we want to be able to advise you or point you in the right direction in handling a legal issue,” said Ashley McAlarney, director of Student Legal Services. “We have a general idea of the most common legal issues for students, but identifying the topics that students are most interested in will help us shape the program and guide our areas of focus.”
SLS assisted students last year as a department within the Division of Student Affairs while the process of forming SLS into a nonprofit corporation that operates as an independent law firm was underway. Now that SLS is operating as a separate nonprofit, McAlarney can provide specific legal advice to students.
"Legal information guides are also available to students in the office. We’re continuing to build our legal resource library even as the primary service is legal advice for students along with educational presentations,” McAlarney said.
Areas of legal advice covered by SLS include, but are not limited to, the following:
- landlord-tenant law
- domestic violence protective orders
- criminal record expunctions
- misdemeanor alcohol and substance charges
- minor traffic violations
- and document reviews (contracts, leases, etc.)
Notary services are free for students, faculty and staff. SLS will not handle disputes between current University students or situations that are adverse to the University, the University of North Carolina System, or the State of North Carolina.
Providing oversight, accountability and guidance to SLS is a board of directors, which is made up of students, staff, faculty and a member of the Charlotte professional community.
Funding for SLS is provided through the student activity fee. Enrolled students who have paid the student activity fee as part of their tuition and fees for each current semester are eligible for SLS assistance.
Students can sign up for individual appointment slots to discuss legal issues, while students, faculty and staff can also sign up for notary service appointments. The appointment calendar link is available on the SLS website.
"I'm excited to have students come in. I am also appreciative of the University community's support as the program grows, particularly in the earliest stage while our primary service offering was legal information and education,” McAlarney said. “Opening the doors during the fall 2021 semester gave students an opportunity to begin interfacing with the office and learn about our expanding services, which was a big first step to the ultimate goal of now operating a full-service law firm."
For more information, visit Student Legal Services.