Undergraduate students no longer have to stress about paying for an attorney.

Purdue now offers legal service counseling for students who may need advisement about how to approach certain legal issues, from disputes with landlords to drinking tickets.

The University hired Leslie Charters, a graduate of Valparaiso University Law School and former deputy prosecutor in Tippecanoe County, to serve as Purdue’s first director of student legal services. Charters said she was surprised to discover Purdue was the last in the Big Ten to offer legal services.

“I think Purdue is huge,” Charters said. “There is a student service for everything, except student legal services. I cannot believe this is the last Big Ten school to get it. If you think about all the other services provided, it was interesting to me that this was not one provided.”

Charters has the ability to help students with a variety of legal problems, all of which are free. The position is funded through the student activity fee charged by Purdue Student Government so that all undergraduates at Purdue can have the service.

“It’s free,” Charters said. “My job is funded through PSG through the student fee, so it’s free only to undergrads, not faculty, staff, graduate students or alumni.”

The most common issues students tend to deal with are disputes with their landlords and drinking tickets, although Charters can help with almost any issue an undergraduate may face. Charters said depending on the situation, students can either try to settle disputes first before seeing her, or come to her first before taking legal action.

“If it’s a criminal law issue, absolutely come here,” Charters said. “Don’t try to go out and hire an attorney right away. I have a referral list of attorneys here in town. But I can also prepare (students) before going to court and sometimes they don’t even need an attorney.”

Charters recommends students see her first before going elsewhere because legal issues can become expensive very quickly.

“Maybe for a first time minor consumption case, I can tell them where to go, what to do, what the agreement will be like, without them going out and hiring a $500-an-hour attorney,” Charters said. “(On) landlord-tenant issues, I’d encourage them to work things out first before coming to me. You need to make an effort first to fix things.”

Jeff Stefancic, associate dean of the office of student rights and responsibilities, said PSG was the primary force in creating the position after listening to the needs of the student body. He described Charters as being just what students needed.

“Leslie is an ideal fit for this position,” Stefancic said. “Her legal credentials are solid and has experience working with the legal system in Tippecanoe County. In addition, she has good energy and passion, which is needed in working with young people and helping them become more educated.”

To schedule an appointment with Charters or get more information, students can visit www.purdue.edu/studentlegalservices, stop by the office in Schleman Hall, Room B50 or call 765-494-1250.