North Texas Daily

Student Legal Services changes location

Student Legal Services changes location

Student Legal Services changes location
September 26
07:57 2013

Hasan Waheedi / Intern Writer

A new office for UNT Student Legal Services is scheduled to open up in the Stovall Temporary Union Building on Oct. 9 because of the reconstruction of the University Union.

The new location is a temporary home for the department, which has helped thousands of students with legal issues involving landlords and tenants, auto accidents, debt collection and more. Currently located on the third floor of the University Union, the SLS office will move to Stovall for the next two years with the rest of the union services.

“Change is always challenging,” SLS attorney Kathryn McCauley said. “It’s not a focal point of campus, but students will figure out it will be the Union substitute for all kinds of student services.”

Students who need to seek legal advice, file a civil case or learn about the legal system can show up at walk-in times on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

More than 700 cases have been filed in the past year, with problems involving landlords and tenants being the most common. McCauley, who has 20 years of experience dealing with such cases, provides students with free representation.

“Quite often students don’t get back their security deposit they expect, so we try to work with them on that,” McCauley said.

SLS has met or exceeded $100,000 worth of recoveries from these cases each year for the past eight years.

“We track every nickel and dime that we are able to recover for students,” McCauley said. “We have a log that we keep, and we are very particular that way.”

A recent UNT student who suffered personal injuries in an auto accident earned a $15,500 settlement after filing a claim with SLS.

When UNT doctoral student Cindy Woods needed a will for her husband, who was diagnosed with cancer, she decided to use SLS instead of a private attorney. Woods’ husband died two months later.

“It was a critical time,” Woods said. “They were very timely, prompt and sensitive to the needs of students.”

Keeping up with the number of cases is also a challenge because of the number of students seeking assistance and small staff.

“It can be hectic sometimes, since we only have one attorney who has to do all the legal decisions,” administrative assistant Hannah Clark said. “But if students think to come to us before they have a serious issue, then we can try to alleviate those stresses.”

Although additional attorneys may have to be put on hold for a while due to space constrains at the new location, SLS wants  to keep informing students about its services.

“We want to do some outreach to the dorms for students who are leaving and are getting ready for their first apartments,” McCauley said. “Because we are not sure people are going to find us right away.”

Psychology sophomore Shavonne Cobb has worked at UNT Student Legal Services since this February. Collectively, Kathryn McCauley, director of UNT Student Legal Services, and the Student Legal Services staff provide legal advice, representation and self-help education for UNT students. -Feature photo by Zixian Chen / Staff Photographer 

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