Student Legal Services (SLS) is a law office located on the University of Iowa campus and provides confidential legal services to University of Iowa students. But what does confidentiality really mean?
The ethics rules that apply to all law firms apply to SLS lawyers and non-lawyer staff. Our staff is bound by the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct. We are required to keep all information we receive from students confidential, including information from students under the age of 18.
Students may have questions or pre-conceived notions about what confidentiality means, especially at SLS, so we want to address those concerns.
Does SLS share information with the university?
No. Student Legal Services staff members are employed by the University of Iowa and supervised by other university employees, and the office is funded by student government. However, this does not affect our duty of confidentiality.
SLS does not share student information with other university offices or staff, including its own supervisors, student government, student organizations, the Office of Student Accountability, University Housing, professors, advisors, or Human Resources. SLS staff members are also not mandatory reporters under Iowa law or University policy.
What about my parents and friends?
No. While parents may have access to some educational and disciplinary records from other offices, Student Legal Services records are separate. Students can authorize third parties (ex. parents, friends, roommates) to receive SLS-related information by completing a specific form, but they are not required to do so in order to receive SLS services. Students must complete the form voluntarily.
Is there any fine print?
Yes. The Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct require attorneys to disclose information in only one situation: “to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent imminent death or substantial bodily harm.” The rules authorize disclosure in other very limited circumstances, but do not require lawyers to do so. For more information, review the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct.
SLS takes confidentiality seriously
Student Legal Services is a judgment-free zone. In order to give you the best possible legal services, we need you to tell us everything about your situation, sometimes even very private things. Our duty is to students – not the University, not your parents, not the police. Keeping your information confidential is a fundamental part of maintaining our law office. If you have further questions about confidentiality, please contact SLS.