Our mission of providing professional legal services to eligible CU students is limited by conflicts of interest and certain University rules.
For example, sometimes two students are charged as co-defendants in a criminal case and one or both of the students says the situation is the other student’s fault; in those situations, there exists an irreconcilable conflict and we cannot advise or represent more than one of the students.
On the other hand, when student co-defendants who are not blaming each other come to us together about their situations, we can usually meet with them to explore the conflict issue and whether or not it can be waived. If it is possible to waive the conflict and the students agree to do so, then we can generally advise and represent both.
Note that we do not necessarily consider it a conflict of interest to advise or represent a student on a criminal case just because another student is listed as a co-defendant or victim in the case. The main reason for this is because the co-defendant or victim student is not a party to the criminal case. A criminal case is not structured as one person against another person the way a non-criminal (civil) case is; rather, a criminal case is structured as the government against a person. Further, a student listed as a victim in a criminal case frequently has one or more other offices, both on- and off-campus (such as the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, the Student Conduct Office, the Office of Victim Assistance, the prosecutor’s office or a private attorney’s office), working for his or her interest and/or available for his or her support. We assess potential conflicts on cases in which students are listed as co-defendants or victims according to the particular facts of each situation.
In civil cases where one student has a legal claim against another, our office cannot represent and generally may not advise either student. In civil cases that involve roommate disputes, however, we may see the first of the two students who comes to our office but we will limit our assistance on the matter to a one-time, advice-only appointment. In these roommate dispute situations, we will also cover the difference in consultation costs on the matter for the second student to see a private attorney from our referral list for up to one hour. (Please be aware that this is the only situation in which SLS can reimburse a student for costs associated with a private attorney.)
Please also note that, as our staff members are CU employees, we cannot assist students with legal claims against the University. We do not, however, consider it a conflict to advise or represent a student with regard to a Student Conduct or Housing & Dining hearing or appeal as these proceedings are not adversarial in nature.
University rules also sometimes prevent Student Legal Services from helping students with their legal issues. For example, our office does not represent students on certain serious types of cases. Students with serious cases are nonetheless encouraged to contact our office so that we can assess their situations and try to provide referrals if we cannot represent them.
Conflicts of interest or problems with University rules can also arise "mid-case." If such a situation presents itself during our representation of one or more students and it cannot be or is not resolved, we must immediately move to withdraw as counsel for all of the students.
There are numerous situations that could limit Student Legal Services’ ability to advise or represent students with respect to their legal issues. We try to help as many students as we can in as many situations as we can but sometimes we will be unable to do so because of the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys and/or University rules.