The University of Iowa

Student Legal Services reaches out to int'l students

March 12th, 2015

Lee Seedorff, Senior Associate Director, ISSS

By Li Dai, The Daily Iowan

A new program from University of Iowa Student Legal Services is trying to aid international students in understanding their rights while living in Iowa.

Because international students are often unfamiliar with U.S. laws, the university started the program to
inform students of their rights.

“In the past year, our office has begun presenting at International Student Orientation to inform international students about criminal and driving laws in Iowa,” said Christopher Malloy, the supervising attorney of Student Legal Services.

Student Legal Services consists of two full-time, licensed, and practicing attorneys, as well as legal interns, a legal secretary, and student directors. 

The service provides legal advice to UI students for free but charges students small fees if the attorneys represent them in court.

He also said the service has given presentations on landlord and tenant law so students can be better informed when renting an apartment, because it is a common issue for students to have, whether or not they are international students.

“In our presentations, we discuss the laws that students generally come in to contact with most frequently,” Malloy said. “We try to emphasize how to avoid legal problems from the beginning, but we also talk about what to do if you find yourself in a legal dispute.”

He said the presentations serve two purposes: to educate new students about Iowa laws and to let them know that Student Legal Services exists so if they do have problems, they know the resource is there.

“I don’t think what Student Legal Services is doing is necessarily new, but the new director, Chris, has been making a concerted effort to focus on educational services for international students,” said Lee Seedorff, the senior associate director of International Student and Scholar Services.

Seedorff said Student Legal Services also recently partnered with the International Student Advisory Board to offer housing-rights workshops in the residence halls.

“I know a particular focus of theirs has been housing and ensuring that international students are aware of their rights if they rent a room or apartment,” Seedorff said.

She said the programs and online guides give students the power to ensure they are protected and not taken advantage of.