For four years, the Associated Students of UC Irvine has provided UCI students with the College Legal Clinic, giving them the opportunity to receive free legal advice from lawyers. Due to a breach in contract with California State University, Long Beach, ASUCI has decided to create its own legal referral service in time for the 2005-2006 academic year.
‘We received lawyers through CSULB’s referral service, but they failed to send us lawyers for a couple of weeks,’ explained ASUCI Administrative Affairs Vice President and third-year international studies major Raymond Giang. ‘We then decided to start our own referral service.’
ASUCI previously paid CSULB $3,300 annually for use of CSULB’s referral service. According to CLC Director Marisa Alcaraz, a second-year political science and criminology, law and society double major, having an independent referral service program at UCI is economically advantageous.
‘We have to pay an annual service fee to the State Bar of California for our own legal referral service, but the price of the license is cheaper than our previous contract with CSULB,’ Alcaraz said.
ASUCI did not publicize the CLC this academic year because it did not have a program set up in time following their discord with CSULB. Because of liability issues, ASUCI decided to refer students to lawyers in the Irvine area, rather than having lawyers come to sessions on campus.
‘We could not have lawyers on campus because of legal issues,’ Giang said. ‘Without a license protecting us, we could be liable for suits.’
Students were referred to Giang and Alcaraz through other counseling sources.
‘They received our business cards from other sources of counseling. We then would refer them to lawyers [with whom] we have established relations from our prior contract with CSULB,’ Alcaraz said. ‘These lawyers would then give free legal consultations to the students.’
The CLC met every Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. Due to the reconstruction of the Student Center, a new meeting place is being sought for next year.
Despite the setbacks this year, organizers maintain that the CLC has been a success.
‘Although we have publicized it more in past years, the number of students that used the Clinic this year has increased,’ Alcaraz said. ‘Although this service is mainly provided for students, we are thinking of offering the services to faculty next year.’
Alcaraz said that ASUCI has been recruiting lawyers to take part in UCI’s own referral service to begin next year.
‘We have established relationships with many lawyers close to Irvine. We called firms and asked them if they were interested in participating in the clinic,’ Alcaraz said. ‘We tried to obtain a wide range of lawyers to deal with the different sections of law.’
The CLC’s services seem to appeal to students.
‘I don’t think that I’ll ever need legal counseling service, but I’m glad to know that we have these services available for students in need of them,’ said first-year economics major Saehan Lee.
Mike Lee, a first-year history major, feels that the legal services offered by ASUCI can be helpful to students who might need these services.
‘I think it’s a really good idea because students usually don’t know what is entitled to them and end up being apathetic about things,’ Lee said. ‘I guess this is a good way for students to have more resources to fight things that we don’t think are right and have a voice.’
Students in need of legal counsel can contact Giang at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Alcaraz at
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