The Rensselaer Union offers free legal service, funded by the Student Activity Fee, for any RPI student. The program attorneys are Robert William Johnson III and Scott Morley.
Important Information about the Program
The Martin Law Firm Martin, Shudt, Wallace, DiLorenzo, & Johnson Attorneys at Law
258 Hoosick Street, Suite 201 Troy, NY 12180
The firm is located in Troy, but you can meet with them at the Union on Mondays and Wednesdays. Please do not visit their office without an appointment.
Walk in Visiting Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30pm - 4:30pm in the Student Union, Room 3511.
Visiting Hours (by Appointment): Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30pm - 5:30pm in Student Union, Room 3511. Call 272-6565 to schedule an appointment.
If you would like to have a meeting outside of Mondays and Wednesdays, please call 518-272-6565.
For lease agreement or contract reviews, please contact the law office at 272-6565 to send a copy to the law firm for review prior to your appointment. This will make your appointment much more efficient.
1. What's the purpose of the program?
The purpose of the Student Legal Service is to assist students in identifying and resolving their legal problems so they can make the most of their educational opportunities. If a legal problem threatens to interfere with any participant's effectiveness as a student, the service is designed to help resolve or minimize such problems. If the type or complexity of any particular problem exceeds the scope or capabilities of the program, additional services may be arranged at the student's expense through attorneys in the community. The aim is to provide the most comprehensive services possible at the most economical cost.
2. So, what's in it for me?
The Student Legal Service is designed to help students with legal problems that they most frequently encounter. You need only bring your valid RPI student I.D. card with you to your consultation.
Legal checkups are available to any interested student seeking to identify potential legal problems before they become acute. In this context, "legal problems" are of two kinds: problems of a negative sort, in which the student is confronted with a potential loss or unanticipated risk; and the positive "problem" in which the student stands to gain some rights or benefit of which he or she is unaware.
3. What are my obligations if I participate?
Court Cost: The program will be unable to pay court costs and fees incident to litigation. These costs and fees, which must be borne by the student, may include payment for subpoenas, summonses, filing fees, printing of transcripts and witness fees. When court costs are foreseen, expenses will be handled by requiring the student to deposit the appropriate amount with the program attorney before further work will be done. Any unused portion of the deposit amount will be returned to the student. If court costs exceed that amount, an additional deposit will be required. The program attorney will discuss the probable costs of the case early in its development.
Court representation for second and repetitive motor vehicle violations:
- Court appearance - $50
Court representation for non-vehicle violations:
- Court appearance - $75
Court representation for first time and repetitive misdemeanors or felonies:
- Misdemeanor - $150
- Misdemeanor DWI - $200
- Felonies - $300
This fee will be paid directly to The Martin Law Firm. Students may borrow money from the McNeil Loan Fund administered in the Rensselaer Union Administration Office, Room 3702 to pay this fee.
Please note that general legal advice is free.
4. Who is eligible to use this service?
Only "regular" matriculated Rensselaer students who have paid the full activity fee to the Rensselaer Union and their spouses will be eligible for program coverage. Parents & dependents of students, continuing students and part-time students, student organizations, former students, non-students and friends of students are not eligible.
The Rensselaer Union reserves the right to withhold services in situations where the registration status of a student may be in question. Students involved in unresolved legal matters initiated during a semester in which the student activity fee has been paid will have their cases followed through to completion subject only to the limitations noted in this brochure.
Rensselaer does not discriminate against any person on the grounds of sex, sexual preference, marital status, age, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or handicap.
5. Now that I know I'm eligible to participate, what types of issues can I get help with?
The program attorney will be available to advise and consults on any legal problem that's not ethically prohibited.
Legal representation up to and including all stages of trial will, at the discretion of the program attorney, be provided in certain types of cases, of which the following are representative:
- Landlord disputes
- Consumer matters
- Simple wills
- Power of attorney
Any cases not specifically mentioned above may be accepted by the program attorney at his/her discretion, subject to the program limitations stated later on.
- Felonies are limited to Rensselaer County
- Class C - Narcotic related only
- Class D
- Class E
- RPI internal judicial conflicts
- Student vs. Student conflicts
- Matters involving the Institute
- Business or real estate ventures
- Estate planning or drafting of complex wills or trusts
- Patent and copyright problems
- Probate matters
- Major Felonies: Class A, Class B, and non-drug Class C
- Services customarily done by non-lawyers, such as preparation and filing of tax returns
- Pre-existing legal problems which include any offenses committed or difficulties encountered prior to the student's enrollment at Rensselaer or during a summer if the student was not eligible in the Spring Semester.
- Class actions
- Anti-trust actions
- Family Court matters
- Collection of money
- Defense of Civil actions
- Divorces and Separations
- Albany County - all courts except Towns of Berne, Coeymans, Knox, Rensselaerville and Westerlo; and Village of Ravena.
- Rensselaer County - all courts
- Saratoga County - City of Mechanicville; Towns of Halfmoon, Clifton Park, Malta, Stillwater and Waterford.
- Schenectady County - City of Schenectady; Towns of Niskayuna and Rotterdam; Village of Scotia.
6. Are there any issues that the program attorney cannot represent for me?
(Legal issues specifically excluded from representation. Please note, however, that program attorneys will be available to provide general legal advice and referrals on these matters.)
The program attorney shall not accept any cases that violate codes of professional responsibility as dictated by any local, state or federal law, or the Canons of Ethics.
The program attorney shall not accept any cases for any RPI student on a private basis with the explicit exception of contingency fee arrangements. In cases not within the scope of the program, the program attorney shall make every effort to refer the student to either the Legal Aid Society, the Public Defender's Office or another attorney.
7. What if I get into trouble off campus?
Misdemeanors, moving traffic violations and the civil matters specified in section 5 will be represented in the following jurisdictions:
8. How confidential is the service?
The obligation of a lawyer to preserve the confidences and secrets of a client is controlled by strict professional and legal policies. Information may be released to third parties only when written consent is provided by the student.
9. What if I'm not satisfied with the way my case is handled?
Any student who is dissatisfied with the assistance provided by the program attorney should forward a written complaint to the Director of the Union, Rick Hartt. Any complaints shall be reviewed by the Executive Board with the consultation of the Institute attorney and appropriate action taken.
10. What if my situation is an emergency?
Any eligible student who encounters legal difficulties at night or on weekends which require immediate attention can be put in touch with the program attorney through the Office of Public Safety (276-6611, 24 hrs./day), the Union Project Coordinator, or any member of the Dean of Students staff.
The program attorney may be reached after regular office hours in the event of an emergency. REMEMBER, THE PROGRAM ATTORNEYS NEED THEIR SLEEP, AND SHOULD ONLY BE CALLED IF IT IS A LEGITIMATE EMERGENCY. As a guideline, the fact that a student may have been arrested or issued a traffic ticket and must appear in court the next morning is not an emergency. Any judge will allow you an opportunity to consult with an attorney before proceedings with your court case. If your court appearance is scheduled for 9am, a call to the program attorney after 8am will be suficient. However, if you are about to be questioned by a law enforcement official regarding your possible participation in criminal activity, you should contact the program attorney immediately. If after reading this paragraph you feel you must contact the program attorney outside of regular office hours, he may be reached at a 24-hour answering service (518) 272-6565.