Student Legal Services expands offerings to Commonwealth Campuses

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Student Legal Services (SLS), a unit of Student Affairs and funded through the Student Initiated Fee, helps Penn State students who are facing personal legal issues at no cost. Offering services such as legal advice to document drafting and referral information, SLS is now available to all University Park and Commonwealth Campus (CWC) students.

All students who pay the Student Initiated Fee at Penn State campuses that participate in the fee program are eligible to use the service. The SLS attorneys are licensed in Pennsylvania and provide assistance only on Pennsylvania law. They may assist students with issues including summary criminal and traffic citations, landlord-tenant issues, name change petitions, expungements, consumer issues and immigration.

The service plays a key role in allowing students to succeed in the classroom. In a 2021 satisfaction survey of students who used SLS, 92% of respondents indicated that utilizing SLS was “extremely important” or “important in helping them focus on their academic work.”

Eligible students may access SLS by completing an online intake form to schedule an appointment. Students may also complete the form and then attend drop-in hours via a Zoom link from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, either virtually or in person. SLS is located at Suite 303, 248 E. Calder Way in State College.

The new option for CWC students provides them access to the same quality legal services that have been available to University Park students since 2010, according to Jesse Fries, the newest SLS attorney.

“We’ve seen the positive outcomes provided by this service and are excited to expand the service to the Commonwealth Campuses,” said Fries. “Numbers of CWC students utilizing the service have continued to grow and campus outreach is ongoing to make sure all CWC students are aware of this service.”

Fries’ position was created to further develop SLS at the participating CWCs. Previously, Fries was an attorney for the Kentucky Public Utilities Commission and the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. In addition, he worked as a public defender for the State of Montana Office of Public Defender. Fries will work to increase the visibility of the SLS program at participating CWCs and establish strong referral networks within each campus.

Students can learn more about Student Legal Services on the website or contact the office at 814-867-4388 or [email protected].