Legal

Whether you discover your car has a boot on it or you find yourself in a situation where you are interacting with the police, you may need additional resources to help you make informed decisions while you are enrolled as a student at the University. This page is designed to provide you with information to explore options, learn about your legal rights, and connect you with additional University resources.

The resources below have been compiled to assist you in finding legal information and assistance and making informed decisions on issues that may affect you during your daily life.

This page offers information and is not intended to provide legal services, nor does the information constitute legal advice or should it be relied upon to replace the advice or representation of an attorney. The information is intended to be used primarily for educational purposes only.

If you are arrested, keep calm and do not panic. The Illinois State Bar Association has published a guide that explains your rights if you are arrested, what is involved in the bail process, how you are released from custody, and more.

People typically enter into written contracts for a variety of reasons, including leasing a place to live, buying a car, and obtaining insurance. Within this context, a contract is an agreement between two or more people that is legally enforceable. The written agreement serves to validate the terms of the agreement. Illinois Legal Aid Online provides further information on contracts.

An estate plan has several elements. They may include: a will, assignment of power of attorney, and a living will or health-care proxy otherwise known as a medical power of attorney.

A will tells the world exactly how you want your assets distributed when you die. It's also the best place to name guardians for your children.

The Illinois State Bar Association has published a guide on what estate planning is and the importance of having a will.

While you should not hesitate to contact a lawyer if you feel you need legal advice, many common problems may be resolved without requiring a lawyer's services. The Illinois State Bar Association published a guide to hiring a lawyer, which can help you determine if consulting a lawyer is the best way to proceed.

If you decide a contact a lawyer, there are legal referral databases that can assist you in finding legal representation:

  • The Illinois State Bar Association's legal referral service is available to anyone who can afford the services of a lawyer. If you prefer a telephone referral, call the Illinois State Bar Association at 217-525-5297 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • The Chicago Bar Association's (CBA) Lawyer Referral Service makes referrals to both civil and criminal lawyers experienced in almost every area of the law.
  • Avvo is the world's largest free legal directory of lawyers. The Avvo website also contains answers and advice for students who are trying to understand legal situations.

If you cannot afford an attorney, Illinois Legal Aid provides information about referrals for free and low-cost legal services.

University of Chicago Office of Legal Counsel

The University's Office of Legal Counsel provides legal services and advice to the University of Chicago. The Office of Legal Counsel does not provide legal advice to individual officers, employees, or students on non-University matters or on University matters where the individual's interests conflict with institutional interests. In situations where there is not an actual or potential of a conflict of interest for the University, the Office of Legal Counsel may be able to refer you to outside attorneys.

UChicago Law Mandel Legal Aid Clinic

The Mandel Legal Aid Clinic does not represent students or employees of the University because: 

  1. Representing members of the University community in matters against the University presents a conflict of interest for the clinicians who are employees of the University; 
  2. The clinic serves the people of the city of Chicago who otherwise cannot afford to retain legal services; 
  3. University students do not meet the eligibility guidelines for representation by the clinic; and 
  4. Students' legal representation sometimes requires specialized knowledge in areas that the clinicians do not have.

The relationship between a landlord and tenant arises from an agreement called a lease, by which one party occupies the real estate of another with the owner’s consent.

The Illinois State Bar Association has published a guide to landlord-tenant law that provides an overview of the types of leases, major lease provisions, security deposits, and more.

Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance

The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (“Chicago RLTO”) is an ordinance that provides a number of important rights and obligations for tenants and landlords.

Renter's Insurance

Renter’s insurance assures you that you are protected against the damage or loss of personal property when you rent an apartment or a house. When determining if you need renter’s insurance, ask yourself how much it would cost to replace your belongings if they were damaged or stolen, and if you could afford that cost. The following links describe the importance of having renter's insurance.

University Housing

If you are an undergraduate student having a housing problem, first contact your Resident Head. If your Resident Head is unable to assist you, contact Housing & Residence Life.

If you are a graduate student living in graduate student housing, contact Graduate Student Housing in Residential Services.

There are several different types of traffic and driving violations. For example, a parking violation is a minor type of infraction that is not counted against your driving record even though you can be arrested for unpaid violations. Some examples of more serious driving violations are moving violations such as speeding, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and drunk driving, also called Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

For more information about traffic and driving violations, see the Illinois State Bar Association’s Guide to Illinois Traffic Courts. For information about how traffic laws apply to bicyclists, visit Cyber Drive Illinois.

Car Accidents

Automobile accidents are one of the most common types of accidents. Each car accident involves a unique set of circumstances and the potential for legal issues. Many car accidents occur due to driver's negligence, such as speeding, failing to stop at a red light, driving under the influence, or simply not paying attention.

This Guide to Auto Accidents provides information about what you should do if you are involved in an accident.

Car Insurance

Car insurance is mandatory for car owners in Illinois. For more information on this requirement, visit Cyber Drive Illinois or the Department of Motor Vehicles website.

City of Chicago Sticker

The City of Chicago requires the purchase of a city sticker for any vehicle principally garaged in the city for more than 30 days. If you live on a street zoned for residential parking permits, you may also purchase a residential parking permit with your city sticker. Learn more about obtaining a Chicago city sticker and residential permits.