Student Student Legal Services
INTERN SPOTLIGHTKen Sugimoto
Every year, SLS recognizes one of its law school interns with the Pinto Scholarship. Endowed by former SLS intern Edward Pinto, the award recognizes the student who best combines law school achievement with service to SLS and its clients. Our inaugural Intern Spotlight shines brightly and deservedly on 2010 Pinto Scholar Ken Sugimoto.
Ken’s tenure at SLS continues his commitment to serving others. Prior to enrolling at IU’s Maurer School of Law, Ken served on active duty and in the reserves of the United States Marine Corps. After deploying to Iraq in 2003, Ken returned to his home in the Bay Area, finished his undergraduate education, and found his way to law school, IU, and Student Legal Services.
Since January of 2009, Ken has devoted his skills and professionalism to advising IU students who visit SLS. He has been certified by the Indiana Supreme Court, allowing him to represent students in court hearings and to distinguish himself in trials. Ken values the practical, real-world experience he has gained at SLS, and the opportunity to assist fellow IU students. After completing his SLS service this summer, Ken plans to practice law in Seattle.
“It feels great when a student comes into the office filled with anxiety and we are able to achieve a successful resolution of his or her problem. The staff at SLS is absolutely dedicated to both helping students and promoting interns’ development. I urge any student with a legal problem to contact SLS and use its resources.”
-Ken Sugimoto; J.D. 2010; SLS Intern 2009-2010
Student Legal Services (SLS) is the on-campus law firm serving only IU students. Paid for with a sliver of each student’s Activity Fee, we employ four full-time attorneys and numerous part-time law student interns to assist you with most legal issues. Open since 1971, IU’s SLS office was a pioneer in serving the legal needs of students, and it remains one of the preeminent programs of its type. With a few exceptions, we can offer IU students confidential advice on a variety of legal issues, explain your options when facing legal troubles, and, if we can’t help, steer you to someone who can. Accessible face-to-face and on-line, an appointment is just a short walk or a mouse-click away.
When an IU student visits SLS, he or she can expect competent, professional advice tailored to help resolve the legal issue presented. With a few exceptions, we’ll sit down and discuss your concerns and answer your questions. If your case involves a civil (non-criminal) matter, we’ll often agree to represent you in court. If you are facing a criminal charge, we’ll discuss your legal situation and either offer advice about representing yourself or refer you to an outside attorney.
Our attorneys and law-student interns have expertise in many areas of law which tend to trip students up. If you get snagged in a new area of law, our philosophy is that we’ll do our best to learn it. You usually aren’t the first student to raise a legal question; if you are, you likely won’t be the last. Nevertheless, our services tend to focus on a few practice areas:
- Renters’ Rage (Landlord/Tenant)
For most students, signing a lease is their first significant contract, carrying with it numerous potential complications. SLS will review your lease before you sign, help you with maintenance concerns as your lease proceeds, and represent you in court if your landlord sues you or if you need a court’s help when your landlord gets attached to your damage deposit.
- Friends in Blue Blues (Criminal Advice)
If your social life has drawn the attention of the police, SLS can advise you about the judicial system. While we can’t represent you in a criminal case, we can assess your charge, advise you of your options, explain possible diversion options for alcohol offenses, and tell you when you really need to hire a lawyer.
- Family Drama
SLS can advise you about the joyous and perilous aspects of family life. We have represented students seeking divorces and name changes, helped students adopt children, and assisted with guardianships and living wills for students and their families.
- Consumer Confidence
SLS has experience in helping students handle issues regarding debts, warranties, buying and selling goods, and insurance. We’ll interpret legal jargon, negotiate the best outcome we can, and represent you in court when necessary.
- Personal Safety
If a relationship has gone sour and you feel your safety is at risk, SLS can assist you with Orders for Protection, including dealing with your landlord if you need to move out. If another IU student is involved, we will refer you to outside agencies or do-it-yourself resources.
Trust us, even if your legal problem falls outside the areas discussed above, we’ve probably dealt with it before. If we haven’t, we’ll often be happy to break new ground with you. In the recent past, we’ve developed expertise in all matters digital: music-downloading, identity theft, the seamier side of social networking, to name a few. Don’t resort to Google or asking your roommate’s cousin: bring your issue in so we can work through it together.
SLS Attorney Biographies
SLS clients generally have an intern serve as the client’s primary contact with the office. SLS employs four experienced attorneys who oversee all client services, review all work, and meet clients directly when needed. If SLS represents you in court, the attorney supervising your case will be present throughout the hearing.
Our attorneys bring diverse skills and credentials to SLS. Among the things we have in common: we have all been IU students at some point.
Randy returned to IU to become the Director of Student Legal Services in June, 2009. Before taking that position, he litigated civil cases for a large national law firm in Minneapolis. Randy also helped oversee the largest civil rights settlement ever brought against the U.S. government.
Michael grew up in Gary and obtained both a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from IU. Having interned at SLS while a student, Michael took a staff attorney position in 1985, and he is currently SLS’s longest-serving employee.
A Bloomington native, Stacee received both her undergrad and law degrees from IU. A former intern at SLS, she joined the office as a staff attorney in March, 2002 after six years in private practice.
Another former intern, Jim was previously a full-time attorney for the U.S. Navy. He became a staff attorney in 1993 and remains an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves. Currently on leave from the office for military service, Jim plans to return to SLS in 2011.
Marc grew up in Bloomington and traveled internationally as a musician before going to law school. Marc spent seven years in private practice in Bloomington before joining SLS as a staff attorney in 2010.