ECC Legal Clinics offer great services to students for free

Matt Karambelas, Managing Editor

The Elgin Community College Legal Clinic provides free legal services to all registered students. The Legal Clinic is located in Building C Room 209 for the rest of the Fall semester and for the Spring semester. Students can meet to discuss legal topics such as preparing for court, immigration and the legal profession itself. The Legal Clinic is a free service sponsored and collaborated with the Office of Student Life located in Building B.

Megan Highland, ECC’s Student Life Coordinator on campus, spoke to the history of the Legal Clinic and why it was needed in the first place.

“The Legal Clinic was an initiative with the Student Government members of ECC,” Highland said.

Back in 2002, the Student Government at ECC found a need that wasn’t being met for the students. They took it upon themselves to work together with the college and start what is now known as the Legal Clinic. It was started to meet the need of the many students looking for legal counseling from their local community college.

ECC worked with the members of the Student Government to secure the legal counsel who became the attorney with the Legal Clinic. Eventually, the duties of securing the times of when the attorney would be on campus went over to the Office of Student Life.

“Since then, its been instituted as us [Student Life] having a budget for, promoting it and Student Life working the relationship with the lawyer every semester,” Highland said.

Student Life is located in Building B with the mission of serving students with social engagement, leadership activities and other roles and responsibilities for the development of ECC students. The well-being and growth of the students is the reason behind Student Life taking on the duties of managing the Legal Clinic.

Student Life organizes the dates and the times of when the attorney will be on campus before the start of the semester. The funds available every year determines the dates and times when the attorney is available to meet.

“Every spring the departments and the clubs go through budget request processing. We put in all our budget requests for funding of what we need in our specific department for the year. Legal Clinics are included with that as well. That is how we are able to offer these services for free,” Highland said.

The Legal Clinic isn’t available for students every day with the same recurring schedule due to the budget requests for the Legal Clinics by the Office of Student Life and what they receive. The Office of Student Life looks at trends of student activity. More specifically the specific days there are the most students on campus who possibly need to see the Legal Clinic. The overlap of the attorney’s availability is also very important when determining the dates and times of when they can be there for the students.

“Based on the budget equals out to be about 24 hours throughout the semester. We also think when it will be good times for the students as well,” Highland said. “We always try to do a morning session and an afternoon session taking into account the schedule of the attorney.”

The availability of the attorney needs to overlap with the times with the most students to assist any student that comes looking for legal advice. Mia Fosse is the attorney available for those 24 hours every semester. She has been with ECC for about a year now. She works with students who come by to see her with whatever legal service is requested. Mia spoke about her time so far with ECC and the Legal Clinic. Speaking more on just how much the Legal Clinic has been used by the students within her one year here with ECC so far.

“As for utilization by the students, it appears many of them don’t realize this service exists. Since I took over last year, I may see about 1 to 2 students each time I’m at ECC,” said Mia Fosse, ECC Legal Clinic Attorney.

Fosse and ECC uses a space located in the library for the one on one meetings with students.

The ECC Legal Clinic is a free service for all ECC students looking for more information about the legal profession or advice about a troubling legal issue. For all questions about the Legal Clinics available to students, students can speak with the Office of Student Life for more. Students can also look to their emails for when the next free Legal Clinic is for the fall semester.