Legal Services provides consultation to students

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Even though Steve Davis, former student legal services attorney, has retired after 35 years of working at Eastern, legal services is still able to provide consultation to students.

Kirsten Bays became the new student legal services attorney in mid-September, and works part time at Eastern while practicing privately in adoption and reproductive technology.

Bays said she has spoken with Davis and knew him from the years, giving her an idea of what was involved in the job.

“He told me I could call him anytime. He’s very helpful,” Bays said.

As student legal services attorney, Bays gives students legal advice on typical student legal issues and potentially refers them to an attorney.

These include traffic ordinance violations like underage drinking tickets, minor criminal issues, landlord-tenant issues and expunction.

Expunction is getting minor criminal issues off of student’s records.

“There’s a series of steps you have to follow, and that’s pretty much what I’ve done: tell students what they are and the paperwork,” Bays said.

Bays said a lot of students might not understand the terminology they have in their leases, and she is able to explain it to them.

“Generally, (students) get it then,” Bays said.

Bays had one student come in to have Bay’s read her lease before she signed it.

“I loved that,” Bays said. “It was pro-active. She knew all the things she had to do to move in and check out and make sure she got her security deposit back.”

Although Bays recommends being proactive, she understands leases can be long to read.

“If you’ve never had a problem, you wouldn’t know how this applies,” Bays said. “If you’ve always had great experiences wherever you rented, you don’t know what this means until you have to use it.”

Bays cannot go to court with students, but instead gives them advice and tells them what their options might be and how to access an attorney.

“If a student came in and had a question about a family law matter, I would answer that question for them, but really I focus more on things students run into all the time,” Bays said.

Bays also teaches law classes at Eastern through the college of family and consumer sciences, and said it was neat to see students from a new perspective.

“A lot of what we talk about are things we’ve talked about in class as well, but it’s more of a one-on-one basis,” Bays said.

Bays said the students keep her young.

“They’re fun to talk to. I like being around them,” Bays said. “They have a different perspective on life.”

Bays had to refresh a few areas of law that she had not looked at for several years before starting her new job.

“I had to get up to speed on those, but it wasn’t terrible,” Bays said.

She said the biggest challenge was scheduling, because she is working part time.

“That’s why I rotate my hours,” Bays said.

Tuesdays she is available in the mornings, and Wednesdays she is at Eastern in the afternoons.

“I can hopefully get somebody in regardless of what their schedule looks like,” Bays said. “That’s probably the hardest part.”

Although she is not always physically present, she emails students even when it is not her day to be in the office.

Bays went to Eastern for her undergraduate degree and got her law degree at Washington University in St. Louis.

She said she always knew Davis was the student legal services attorney, but until she got his job, she did not know where the office was.

“I had never needed a lawyer while I was at school,” Bays said. “That was weird for me to find it. It is kind of in an off-the-beaten-path location.”

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]