For many people, going to college represents the fulfillment of a dream. Yet that dream can become a nightmare for the disturbingly high number of students who face legal issues each year.
Many of these challenges are predictably related to alcohol. Beyond DUIs and car accidents, a recent report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states there are nearly 700,000 campus assaults each year related to drinking (and almost 100,000 sexual abuse/rape cases).
A Survivor’s Story
Unfortunately for Wendy Florian Terrado, these statistics are nothing new. Today, Ms. Terrado is a champion for the empowerment of vulnerable people. As a LegalShield independent associate, she is on a mission to provide others with legal representation.
Her passion grew out of her own deep sense of powerlessness when she was victimized in college. After she was raped at knifepoint by someone whom she knew, Ms. Terrado was encouraged to keep it quiet. Several influential people in her life told her that she needed to focus on her own spirituality and need to forgive instead of reporting the crime.
“I was a decent person who had never had any contact with the law. I thought I was attending a safe university where ‘those things’ would never happen to me. I did not know what to do and just obeyed anything I was told.”
Years after the incident, Ms. Terrado was introduced to LegalShield. She had just hired an attorney to handle some other legal matters related to identity theft, and she joined LegalShield to minimize the costs of future legal matters for her small business. It was then that she realized how empowering it was to have access to an attorney, something that she wishes she’d had during college.
“Had I been a LegalShield member during my college years, I may have discovered that I had rights and was worthy of better treatment. Most of all, I wouldn’t have a nagging thought that maybe the perpetrator went on to commit other crimes. Emotionally, I would have found a safe place and not have felt so very isolated. I was completely alone. Shamed. Humiliated. Horrified at all the people who knew what happened to me. Terrified of what they thought of me. Worried about what would happen next. I didn’t need court time. I needed truth, guidance, and someone who was looking out for me.”
For attorney Bob LoPresti, a partner at LegalShield provider firm Parker Stanbury LLP, the legal issues affecting his firm’s college-aged clients have included far more than drinking and sexual assault issues. His firm has also represented clients facing:
- Issues related to difficulties with college administrators, professors, and other students
- Tuition and withdrawal disputes;
- Inaccurate representation by for-profit colleges;
- Traffic tickets and car accidents;
- Landlord/tenant issues;
- Reviewing leases/contracts prior to signing.
Mr. LoPresti states: “A lot of our issues are very simple, such as a student having a problem with a cell phone provider. Over 90% of the legal matters we handle do not go past giving consultation and sending a letter. We write hundreds of letters per day on behalf of members. The power of having a letter on an attorney’s letterhead is extremely effective at solving a problem. Once you are dealing with a lawyer as an opponent, it changes the game.”
“College students’ youth and lack of real-world experience can make it challenging for them to know where to begin when facing a legal matter, says LoPresti, yet many end up representing themselves in order to save money or to avoid the possibility that their parents find out about their issue.” He believes that many parents of college-age children should consider providing their children with access to a law firm through a solution such as LegalShield, which he argues “makes it more likely that college students will use a lawyer and not try to do it on their own. It gives them the freedom to go ahead and call someone.”