By Margaret Mitschke*
While preparing for classes, unpacking all of your belongings, and meeting new friends are all enjoyable things most students are doing as the fall semester starts, sometimes even the best laid plans go astray. Student Legal and Mediation Services has a full-time attorney that can help students with a variety of legal and conflict resolution issues.
When it comes to a lease agreement for an apartment, there are many different types of legal issues that can arise. What exactly should a lease agreement include? What should it not include? If you have maintenance issues, what steps should you take? Are you allowed to move out early, have pets, or have friends stay over? When are you supposed to pay rent, and how much? When can your landlord lock you out of your apartment, or even have grounds for eviction? These are just some of the apartment leasing questions our attorney can go over with students. Another helpful resource is our booklet, A Student’s Guide to Renting, which is available in our office.
Participating in the Legal System
Our attorney can advise you if you have to go to court. What is the proper etiquette for a courtroom? What questions might a judge ask you? How do file court documents, which ones do you file, and where can you get them? If you receive a traffic ticket, do you know how to handle it? Our office can inform students on how to participate properly in the legal system.
Wills and Powers of Attorney
You are in college. You want to be treated as an adult. Ensuring that your final wishes are understood and carried out is part of being a responsible adult. Some of these documents include a last will and testament, statutory durable power of attorney, a HIPPA release, and an appointment of agent to control disposition of remains. Our office can draft these for you, and explain exactly what they mean. Other information on these types of documents can be found in our blog post, “Who Talks When You Cannot?”.
Conflict can arise between students, landlords and tenants, and roommates. If the issues cannot be solved by yourself, it is possible that mediation can help make sure all concerns are heard with the guidance of a neutral third party. Our attorney is an experienced mediator, and can mediate issues between two or more SHSU students, and SHSU student organizations.
Law School and Legal Careers
If you are interested in pursuing a law degree and career, you can set up an appointment to speak with our attorney. Gene Roberts obtained his J.D. from Southern Methodist University. He also received mediation training from the University of Texas School of Law’s Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution, and Pepperdine University School of Law’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. He is authorized to practice law in all Texas state courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Districts Courts of Texas. Before working as the Director of Student Legal and Mediation Services, he practiced law in Dallas, Texas. He can offer you informal advice on law schools and legal careers from his personal experience. We also encourage you to speak with SHSU’s pre-law advisor here.
Other common legal issues our office can assist students with include name changes, family law including divorces and child support, contract law, starting a business, and expunging charges. As an SHSU student, our services are completely free to you. Contact us and make an appointment at (936) 294-1717, or online at shsu.edu/legalservice.