TULSA — A legal battle can be nearly impossible to fight without an attorney.
Especially when it comes to domestic violence victims, veterans, and low-income renters.
But the University of Tulsa is hoping to fill that void, and help people who need help with their legal problems here in Tulsa.
When you think of law school - you may think of the movie "Legally Blonde."
But helping clients while in law school isn't something just in the movies--and it's something students at the University of Tulsa are doing right now.
"It makes me feel good," third-year law student LaShandra Peoples-Johnson said. "That's why I came to law school and stopped working in corporate America because I wanted to help people and to see that I can actually help people and to see that I love it."
Lashandra and Clint Summers are about to graduate.
Their favorite thing about getting their law degree so far is helping people.
"It's extremely important that they have a lawyer and that we provide that assistance for free," Summers said.
TU already has clinics that address a number of things, like helping people get protective orders and walking them through the immigration court process, but now TU law is introducing the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic, which is funded by a Sarkey's Foundation grant.
This new clinic will focus on civil cases.
"Most likely it's going to be landlord-tenant work and consumer protection work," said Dean of TU Law Lyn Entzroth. "There are many unmet needs in this community so I think there's a wide array of things that we could be providing services for."
Those unmet needs are a problem TU actually researches within the community to try to help bridge gaps where there is a lack of help.
About 40 students help out with the clinics each year and they do it under the supervision of licensed attorneys.
Basically, each client gets a team of students and attorneys looking at options on how to handle their case.
For many, that means a fighting chance against an abuser or the difference between being evicted and having a home.
"One of the problems that are facing not just Tulsa but everywhere across the country is people having adequate access to justice," Entzroth said. "They have legal needs but they can't afford counsel to help them get those needs met. So this is one way that we are responding to that problem within the community."
The Terry West Clinic will begin later this year.
TU gets its clients through community organizations and referrals.
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