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Legal services available to students

Students are able to find out information about legal issues concerning everything from divorce to contract rights here on campus. Student legal and mediation services are free and offer a variety of services for students.

“Our primary focus is educational,” said Kathleen Cushing, senior attorney for the student legal and mediation services.

Cushing wants to help students resolve their issues and learn how to better manage their problems.

Cushing said she wants to emphasize the importance of students’ education goals. She said that the student clients bring unique perspectives and talents to their individual cases.

The legal and mediation services have recently gotten their name out in the Portland State University community through such events like Party in the Park.

Cushing said the number of students utilizing the services has increased dramatically. The number of clients this summer was as much as during the busiest time of the school year last year.

This year at new student orientation, student legal and mediation services offered an informational presentation on landlord and tenant laws.

Cushing said that the office is now beginning to offer more workshops and seminars.

Future workshops may include such topics as driving under the influence and Internet fraud.

There are a variety of legal topics Cushing also discussed that students should be informed about. Identification theft is one such problem.

According to Cushing, checks are being stolen from mailboxes all around Portland. She suggests having students get their checks mailed to their banks.

There is also the issue of solicitors. Cushing suggested being put on a “no call” list. It costs a minimal amount of money to be placed on the list and solicitors are not allowed to call any longer.

The student legal and mediation services sponsor several workshops relating to legal issues.

Cushing said that the legal and mediation services support such groups as KPSU and the Multicultural Center.

Cushing said they try to help the students find ways to be creative as a group yet still comply with university standards.

Students are able to drop in or set up appointments. No legal advice is given over the phone.

According to Cushing, the services that students usually ask about during appointments are questions referring to family law. “Drop by” students typically ask about landlord tenant issues or other contract issues.

Cushing said there is a movement to make family-law information accessible.

The legal and mediation services now have a new Web site at

Student fees fund student legal and mediation services. Any student enrolled for one or more credits is eligible.

Though the services are free, there may be filing fees mandated by the court that students have to pay.

The staff at the legal office consists of two lawyers, two legal clerks, a paralegal office manager and a student. Cushing said that they are currently looking for another student worker.

The student legal and mediation services have been on campus for more than two decades.

For more information, contact student legal and mediation services at 503-725-4556. The office is located in Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 401C, and is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.