Student Legal Services

Program Description & Capabilities

Meet with a legal representative at the Rensselaer Student Union on Mondays and Wednesdays in Room 3511 during the academic year. Call 518-272-6565 to schedule an appointment on campus or to schedule a meeting outside of regular office hours.

Walk in Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30pm - 4:30pm

Appointment Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30pm - 5:30pm

 

What to Bring

Bring your valid RPI Student I.D. card with you to your consultation.

For lease agreement or contract reviews, please contact the law office at 518-272-6565 to send a copy to the law firm for review prior to your appointment.

 

Program Purpose & Scope

The purpose of the Student Legal Service is to assist students in identifying and resolving their legal problems so they can make the most of their educational opportunities. The program is designed to help students with legal problems most frequently encountered.

In this program, "legal problems" are of two kinds: problems of a negative sort, in which the student is confronted with a potential loss or unanticipated risk; and the positive "problem" in which the student stands to gain some rights or benefit of which he or she is unaware. If the type or complexity of any particular problem exceeds the scope or capabilities of the program, additional services may be arranged at the student's expense through attorneys in the community.

 

Student Responsibilities

The program will be unable to pay court costs, fines and fees incident to litigation. These costs, fines and fees, which must be borne by the student, may include payment for subpoenas, summonses, filing fees, printing of transcripts and witness fees. When court costs are foreseen, expenses will be handled by requiring the student to deposit the appropriate amount with the program attorney before further work will be done. Any unused portion of the deposit amount will be returned to the student. If court costs exceed that amount, an additional deposit will be required. The program attorney will discuss the probable costs of the case early in its development.

Court representation for second, multiple ticket, and repetitive motor vehicle violations (the first motor vehicle violation representation $0) Court Appearance $50
Court representation for ‘out-of-area’ motor vehicle violations (See “Regional Limitations”) Court Appearance $25
Court representation for non-vehicle violations Court Appearance $75
Court Representation for first time and repetitive misdemeanors or felonies

Misdemeanor $150

Misdemeanor DWI (each count) $200

Felonies $300

These fees are to be paid directly to The Martin Law Firm. Students who are eligible may borrow money from the McNeil Loan Fund administered in the Rensselaer Union Administration Office, Room 3702 to pay this fee. Please note that general legal advice is free.

 

Program Eligibility

Only "regular" matriculated Rensselaer students who have paid the full activity fee to the Rensselaer Union and their spouses will be eligible for program coverage. Parents & dependents of students, continuing students and part-time students, student organizations, former students, non-students and friends of students are not eligible.

The Rensselaer Union reserves the right to withhold services in situations where the registration status of a student may be in question. Students involved in unresolved legal matters initiated during a semester in which the student activity fee has been paid will have their cases followed through to completion subject only to the noted limitations of the program.

Rensselaer does not discriminate against any person on the grounds of sex, sexual preference, marital status, age, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or handicap.

 

What type of issues may students bring to Student Legal Services?

The program attorney will be available to advise and consults on any legal problem that's not ethically prohibited.

Legal representation, up to and including all stages of trial will, at the discretion of the program attorney, be provided in certain types of cases, of which the following are representative:

CIVIL

Landlord disputes

Consumer Maters

Simple Wills

Power of Attorney

CRIMINAL

Felonies (limited to Rensselaer County)

Class C (narcotic related only)

Class D

Class E

Any cases not specifically mentioned above may be accepted by the program attorney at his/her discretion, subject to the program limitations stated later on.

 

What type of issues are not handled by Student Legal Services?

Legal issues specifically excluded from representation are listed below. Please note, however, that program attorneys will be available to provide general legal advice and referrals on these matters.

  • RPI internal judicial conflicts
  • Student vs. Student conflicts
  • Matters involving the Institute
  • Business or real estate ventures
  • Estate planning or drafting of complex wills or trusts
  • Patent and copyright problems
  • Probate matters
  • Major Felonies: Class A, Class B, and non-drug Class C
  • Services customarily done by non-lawyers, such as preparation and filing of tax returns
  • Pre-existing legal problems which include any offenses committed or difficulties encountered prior to the student's enrollment at Rensselaer or during a summer if the student was not eligible in the Spring Semester.
  • Class actions
  • Anti-trust actions
  • Family Court matters
  • Collection of money
  • Defense of Civil actions
  • Divorces and Separations
  • Immigration or Visa matters

The program attorney shall not accept any cases that violate codes of professional responsibility as dictated by any local, state or federal law, or the Canons of Ethics.

The program attorney shall not accept any cases for any RPI student on a private basis with the explicit exception of contingency fee arrangements. If a  case is accepted that is outside the program guidelines, the student will be asked to sign a retainer agreement. In cases not within the scope of the program, the program attorney shall make every effort to refer the student to the Legal Aid Society, the Public Defender's Office or another attorney.

 

Regional Limitations

Misdemeanors, moving traffic violations and the civil matters specified in section 5 will be represented in the following jurisdictions:

  • Albany County - all courts except Towns of Berne, Coeymans, Knox, Rensselaerville and Westerlo; and Village of Ravena
  • Rensselaer County - all courts
  • Saratoga County - City of Mechanicville; Towns of Halfmoon, Clifton Park, Malta, Stillwater and Waterford
  • Schenectady County - City of Schenectady; Towns of Niskayuna and Rotterdam; Village of Scotia

 

Confidentiality

The obligation of a lawyer to preserve the confidences and secrets of a client is controlled by strict professional and legal policies. Information may be released to third parties only when written consent is provided by the student or as required by law.

 

Complaints

Any student who is dissatisfied with the assistance provided by the program attorney should forward a written complaint to Rensselaer Union Director, Joe Cassidy. Any complaints shall be reviewed by the Executive Board with the consultation of the Institute attorney and appropriate action taken. The Martin Law Firm will maintain attorney-client privilege until such time the student signs a waiver of the privilege that permits open discussion of all matters with third parties. 

 

Emergency Protocol

Any eligible student who encounters legal difficulties at night or on weekends which require immediate attention can be put in touch with the program attorney through the Office of Public Safety (518-276-6611, 24 hrs./day), the Rensselaer Union Administration Office, or any member of the Dean of Students staff.

The program attorney may be reached after regular office hours in the event of an emergency. As a guideline, the fact that a student may have been arrested or issued a traffic ticket and must appear in court the next morning is not an emergency. Any judge will allow you an opportunity to consult with an attorney before proceedings with your court case. If your court appearance is scheduled for 9am, a call to the program attorney after 8am will be sufficient. However, if you are about to be questioned by a law enforcement official regarding your possible participation in criminal activity, you should contact the program attorney immediately. If after reading this paragraph you feel you must contact the program attorney outside of regular office hours, he may be reached at a 24-hour answering service (518) 272-6565.

 

Martin, Shudt, Wallace, Dilorenzo & Johnson: Attorneys at Law are located at 258 Hoosick Street, Suite 201 Troy, NY 12180

Phone - (518)272-6565 / Fax - (518)272-5573

Location

Rensselaer Student Union, Room 3511

Eligibility

The Rensselaer Union offers free legal service to matriculated students who pay the Activity Fee. 

Questions

To be directed to Student Legal Services, email rpiunion@rpi.edu

Law Firm

This program is operated by Martin, Shudt, Wallace, Dilorenzo & Johnson: Attorneys at Law