Student Legal Services sets up Student Advisory Board

In order to gain input and advice to better serve the student population, Student Legal Services sets up a Student Advisory Board.


Shivansh Ahuja

The office of Student Legal Services is seen on Monday, February 18, 2019.

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

In an effort to increase outreach and engagement, Student Legal Services seeks input from students and demonstrates it by setting up a Student Advisory Board.

The 12-member board was formed this semester to advise the office on its operations.

Javon Stovall, a member of the board, said the Student Legal Services Constitution requires a Student Advisory Board, but there hasn’t been one for a number of years.

Student Legal Director Christopher Malloy said he thought it was important to get a student perspective and help Student Legal better connect with students.

“We’re not students,” Malloy said. “We like to think we have a good idea of the challenges that students are facing, but it’s better to hear it directly from them.”

Student Legal Assistant Director Amanda Elkins said many other university legal services in the U.S. have student advisory boards, and the UI contingent wanted to model the board after them.

The board serves in a general advisory role to Student Legal attorneys, Malloy said. It meets monthly and offers feedback on Student Legal activities and services.

The board offers advice on the organization’s outreach efforts, social-media presence, and other programs affecting students.

“In a way they’re just evaluating us, evaluating our services, and giving us ideas that they think would help make our services better,” Malloy said.

With help from the board, Student Legal hopes to expand its outreach in the future, Malloy said. Some changes the board has suggested include a presentation from Student Legal at Orientation, as well as adding more information on Student Legal in the Success at Iowa course.

Malloy said the board encouraged the office to put together an event for UI law students with a panel of attorneys that work at the university.

One major goal of the board is to increase student awareness of the services that are offered by Student Legal, Stovall said.

“An ongoing problem is students only visit Student Legal when they’re in trouble,” Stovall said.

While the service does offer advice and representation in criminal matters, Stovall said, the other services offered by the organization are not so well-known.

The service handles lease reviews, civil disputes, family issues, and many other items, Stovall said. One effort of the advisory board is to make those services better known and encourage students to seek them out.

Stovall said one of his goals for the board is to normalize going to see a lawyer, because students often feel intimidated to seek legal help.

“You can’t just provide the service,” Stovall said. “You have to create an air in which students feel comfortable going to ask for the service, and then making sure that service is tailored to the needs of students.”

Elkins and Malloy said they were frustrated that students were not aware of all the services offered. Elkins said the organization offers immigration advice, name changes, and notary services.

“You can ask us just about anything, and if I don’t know, I’m going to find someone who can help you,” Elkins said.