Legal Services

//Legal Services
Legal Services 2018-03-16T12:05:46+00:00

Student Legal Services

Student Legal Services is a student government sponsored program that provides FREE legal services for all eligible Michigan State University students through a private law firm consisting of attorneys, legal interns, and support staff. Our office provides students with advice and representation regarding a wide range of legal issues including criminal misdemeanors, civil infractions, landlord-tenant matters, traffic offenses, and much more. Student Legal Services in sponsored by the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) and the Council of Graduate Students (COGS).

Who We Are

The attorneys at Jeffries and Associates, PLLC, have 40+ years experience at Student Legal Services.  Brian Jeffries, Adam Cozort, and Mary Beth Wimberley have demonstrated the skills and understanding necessary to represent the unique needs of students at Michigan State University.


Brian Jeffries has served Student Legal Services as its lead attorney for the past 33 years. Brian received his Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University, and obtained his Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. While in law school, Brian worked as an Administrative Assistant to a Michigan State Senator and later worked with the Michigan Department of Attorney General in the Office of the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council.

After law school, Jeffries opened his own law office, as well as signed on with ASMSU and COGS to begin his career at Student Legal Services.  Brian currently maintains his practice with Student Legal Services through the law firm of Jeffries and Associates, PLLC. Brian has very much enjoyed devoting his practice to helping students, as well as the organizations of ASMSU and COGS, with the unique challenges and issues they present.

Jeffries is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Ingham County Bar Association, and has served as an Assemblyperson of the Representative Assembly of the State Bar of Michigan as well as a member of the State Bar of Michigan District E Character and Fitness Committee. Brian is licensed to practice law in all state courts, the U. S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, and the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In addition to practicing law, Brian has also held elective office for 27 years. Jeffries was an Ingham County Commissioner, a Lansing Community College Board of Trustees Member, and a Lansing City Council Member. Brian has also served the Lansing community and region by volunteering on numerous local boards and commissions. He was a member and Vice-President of the Lansing Housing Commission, a member of the Capital Area Community Service Board of Directors, President of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton Counties Board of Directors, and served as Co-Chairperson of Lansing Mayor Schor’s Transition Team. Other affiliations include the ACLU, NAACP (Silver Life Membership), Trout Unlimited, and St. Casimir Catholic parish.

In his spare time, Jeffries likes to wade the Pere Marquette and Manistee rivers to fish for trout, salmon, and steelhead.  He likes to cook and bake pies, as well as work on his home, but, most of all, Brian enjoys living life with his wife, Ellen.

Adam Cozort grew up in Oceana, West Virginia and graduated from Mountain State University with a degree in accounting. Adam then obtained his Juris Docotr from Thomas M. Cooley Law School with much of his classwork and internships focused on client advocacy and communication.

During law school, Adam spent a year working as a student attorney, and later a senior student attorney, for the Sixty Plus Estate Planning Clinic.  This internship provided an opportunity to perform client intakes, prepare estate planning documents, and to supervise fellow students.  Adam also spent a year interning for Student Legal Services.  This internship focused heavily on client interaction and involved assisting the attorneys of Student Legal Services in the representation of students.  He performed intakes, prepare research briefs, and assist with pretrials.

Upon graduation, Adam would join a law firm practicing estate planning. When an opportunity to rejoin Student Legal Services was presented, the time spent interning with the group made it an easy decision to return.  He has served in this position for the past three years and enjoys the opportunity to work with students on the wide variety of issues that approach the office.

Adam Cozort is admitted to the State Bar of Michigan and is a member of the Ingham County Bar Association. In his free time, Adam is an avid fan of Michigan State University sports, golfs, and spends time with his wife Emily and their corgi Annabelle.

Originally from Glendora, California Mary Beth Wimberley graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Communications. Mary Beth then obtained her Juris Doctor, with honors, from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2017, with a concentration in litigation.

Prior to law school, Mary Beth worked as a research assistant for Blue Searchlight, an organization focused on campaign opposition research. In this position Mary Beth researched legislative data, court documents, voting records, and so on for campaign races in Alabama, New Mexico, Connecticut, and Missouri. During law school, Mary Beth worked full time for Midwest Collaborative for Library Services, non-profit organization. While at MCLS Mary Beth worked with the member services department where she assisted library members in Michigan and Indiana on a daily basis with their membership, ejournal renewals, and 3M purchasing.

After leaving MCLS, Mary Beth was a legal assistant for attorney Ronald A. Zawacki in East Lansing. In this role, Mary Beth became familiar with both civil and district court for criminal and civil matters. In her final year of law school, she also worked as a student attorney for the Sixty Plus Estate Planning Clinic. In the clinic, Mary Beth assisted clients over the age of sixty in preparing their wills along with their durable and medical power of attorney. In her role as a senior attorney, Mary Beth also helped mentor junior attorneys in how the clinic was run and how to interview clients.

May Beth is admitted to the State Bar of Michigan and The U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan. She is also a member of the Young Lawyers Association and Ingham County Bar Association. In her free time, Mary Beth enjoys being able to visit her family who are spread out on both the West and East coasts. She also enjoys painting, reading, and is an avid fan of U.C. Berkeley’s (her brother’s alma mater) football team, the Cal Bears. After living in Lansing for several years, Mary Beth is proud to be a part of the Spartan family.


Effective January 1, 2018, the MIP law was amended to provide that the first offense of a minor purchasing or attempting to purchase, consuming or attempting to consume, possessing or attempting to possess or having any bodily alcohol content is a civil infraction and no longer a misdemeanor. This means a judgment for a first offense MIP no longer results in a criminal conviction.

Sanctions for a conviction to a first offense MIP are up to a $100 fine (plus court costs), substance abuse treatment and community service. There is no action taken against the driver’s license, however a notice of the infraction is sent to the Secretary of State and posted on the driver’s record.

Sanctions for a conviction to a second offense MIP is a misdemeanor (criminal conviction) and is punishable by up to a $200 fine (plus court costs), substance abuse treatment, community service, however a deferral is possible. A notice of the conviction is sent to the Secretary of State, and posted on the driver’s record.  The driver’s license is suspended for 90 days, and a restricted license is possible after 30 days. If there is a probation violation, the Defendant could be ordered to serve up to 30 days in jail.

The sanctions for a conviction to a third offense MIP is a misdemeanor (criminal conviction) and is punishable by up to a $500 fine (plus court costs), substance abuse treatment, community service, however a deferral is possible. The driver’s license is suspended for 1 year, and a restricted license possible after 60 days. If there is a probation violation, the Defendant could be ordered to serve up to 60 days in jail.

Although the violation for a first offense MIP is now a civil infraction, there remains serious consequences regarding your driver’s license due to the notification to the Secretary of State. It may be possible, in some instances, to avoid the notification requirement by negotiating with the prosecuting entities to amend the MIP civil infraction into a different civil infraction which does not involve reporting anything to the Secretary of State. We strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services as soon as you receive an MIP ticket to review all your options before making any final decisions.

Operating while intoxicated is a very serious offense that carries many serious and expensive ramifications with it.  An OWI is issued when a person is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or above.  A person charged with OWI should contact Student Legal Services to schedule an appointment for consultation and representation.  The statutory fines and punishments are listed below, but it should be noted that the fine here does not represent the total cost of an OWI. Court costs will also need to be factored in.

  • $500 maximum fine
  • 6 points on your drivers license
  • $1000 Driver Responsibility Fee for 2 years ($2000 total)
  • Up to 180 day license suspension with the possibility of a restricted license after 30 days
  • Maximum jail time of 93 days
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Possible vehicle immobilization
  • Possible vehicle ignition interlock

Operating while visibly impaired is another alcohol related offense that ties closely to OWI.  An OWI will be issued when a person is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC less than .08 if the officer determines the person is driving with less ability than a normal driver. The possible statutory fines and punishments are listed below, but it should be noted that the fine here does not represent the total cost of an OWVI. Court costs will also need to be factored in.

  • $300 maximum fine
  • 4 points on your license
  • $500 Driver Responsibility Fee for 2 years ($1000 total)
  • 90 day license restriction
  • Possible vehicle immobilization
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service

DWLS occurs when a person is operating a motor vehicle with a license that has been suspended for any reason.  This is a misdemeanor.  Commonly the suspension has resulted from failure to pay fines from other traffic offenses, acquiring too many points on your license, or as a result of another traffic offense that requires a suspension.  If you receive a DWLS, we always recommend that you try to take care of the cause of the suspension if possible.  The possible fines and punishments for DWLS are listed below.

Driving While License Suspended (1st offense, 257.904)

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 Fine
  • Additional period of license suspension

Driving While License Suspended (2nd offense, 257.904)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1000
  • Additional period of license suspension

Disorderly conduct is an offense that encompasses many prohibited acts.  Common violations are listed below.  The penalties and fines will vary based on if the charge is an East Lansing ordinance (26-52), a Michigan State University ordinance (15.00), or State of Michigan law (750.167).  A complete listing of prohibited acts can be found in the code sections listed.

Common disorderly conduct offenses include:

  • Being intoxicated in a public place and endangering directly the safety of another person or property.
  • Urinate, defecate or spit on any street, sidewalk, alley, park, parkway, parking lot or structure, public carrier or upon any public property.
  • Assault, obstruct, resist, hinder, or oppose any member of the police force, any peace officer, or firefighter in the discharge of his/her duties as such.
  • Provide a police officer or liquor establishment with any false, forged, or misleading verbal or written identification.

Assault is a charge stemming from the unlawful contact with another person.  This charge is most commonly seen in connection with a fight or altercation.  There are varying degrees of assault, and while all the ones listed here are misdemeanors, there are felony charges that can arise from an assault.  The statutory fines and punishments can be found below.
Assault (750.81, East Lansing Ordinance 26-63)

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 Fine

Aggravated Assault or Assault with a Weapon (750.81a)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1000 Fine

Domestic Violence (1st offense, 750.81)

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 Fine

Domestic Violence (2nd Offense, 750.81)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1000 Fine

It should be noted that a third offense for domestic violence is a felony punishable by up to $5000 fine and not more than 5 years in prison.

Immigration Law is a specialized area of Federal Law. Any international students charged with a crime could trigger investigation consequences and should contact Student Legal Services to schedule an appointment.

Civil infractions are civil wrongs that do not rise to the level of a misdemeanor. Students must respond to the tickets promptly and should schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services immediately upon receiving the citation.

Upon receiving a Civil Infraction you must respond within the time indicated on the ticket, usually 10 days. You have 3 options:

Admit Responsibility – By pleading responsible, you are agreeing to accept a fine and corresponding points. If it is your first ticket, check with the Secretary of State to see if you are eligible for the Basic Driver Improvement Program. This program allows you to keep the points of your record.

Admit Responsibility with an Explanation – Under this option you can submit a written explanation which the judge may take into consideration to reduce fines. You still get the points. 54-B offers a process called Online Case Review by which you can submit your argument online and get a judge’s opinion without going to court. Take note that the time to respond is less than 10 days.

Deny Responsibility – Use this option if you wish to fight the ticket.  By denying responsibility, you have the option of an informal or formal hearing. With the informal hearing, the officer goes first because they have the burden of proof. The burden, however, is just the preponderance of the evidence, more likely than not. Then you respond. Attorneys are not allowed to appear. If you lose, you may appeal to a formal hearing.  With a formal hearing, both sides may be represented by an attorney and the rules of evidence apply. If you lose you may be responsible for higher costs.


We strongly encourage perspective tenants to have Student Legal Services go over the lease before tenants sign. We can help the tenants avoid signing a lease with illegal provisions, situations, or hidden consumer traps. We can also recommend areas of negotiation.

We assist numerous students every year on how to manage the process of wrongfully withheld security deposits. See the attached publication, “Security Deposits.”

The City of East Lansing is very aggressive about enforcing ordinances that prohibit living in an attic or basement and over occupancy. Also, there may be repair issues that need to be addressed.

Evictions are governed by statute, and are strictly interpreted. Timing can be crucial, so students need to schedule an appointment with Student Legal Services as soon as they receive the legal documents.

Sometimes subleases are unavoidable. We can help you do it right.

Council of Graduated Students – Skype Services

The Council of Graduate Students and Student Legal Services are happy to announce that Student Legal Services will now be offering free legal advice via Skype interviews for MSU graduate and professional students who attend classes away from the main campus in East Lansing.  This is a result of feedback received by Student Legal Services during visits to different MSUCOM sites located around the state.  In order to make sure that Student Legal Services can provide the highest level of service, we ask that you to do the following in order to make a Skype appointment:

  1. Contact Student Legal Services at 517-353-3716 between the hours of 8-12 and 1-5 Monday through Friday to set up an appointment.
  2. Please leave a Skype ID so that you can be contacted on the day of your appointment.
  3. All necessary documents (leases, letters, contracts, traffic citations, etc.) should be scanned and emailed (miller@asmsu.msu.edu) or faxed (517-432-1999) to our office at least one day in advance of your appointment.
  4. Please ensure that you are in a quiet area for your interview so that you can hear and be heard easily. Remember, if you chose to use a public location for this interview, your conversation may be heard by others.
  5. Appointments will begin promptly at the scheduled time, so make sure you are logged on and available on Skype when the interview begins.

We look forward to this new way of extending free legal services to the graduate and professional students of Michigan State University.

Speaking Engagements and Presentations

Student Legal Services also conducts presentations to groups with special interests.  We recommend that you call well in advance of the event with an idea of topic to be addressed, number of expected attendees, date and location. Common themes include:

  • Know Your Rights – How to respond and what rights do you have when a police officer stops you on the street, or when you are pulled over in your car, or when they are at your front door are common themes that are discussed during these events.
  • Landlord/Tenant – areas covered are things to look for in choosing an apartment, roommates and lease. Also addressed are security deposit issues and local ordinances.

Conflicts of Interest

Student Legal Services is prohibited from representing students in any situation that appears to present a conflict of interest. For example, in a tenant versus tenant dispute we cannot speak to both sides. In that example, we would speak to the first party to come in in an effort to serve the most students possible. When possible, we would try to refer the second party to alternative representation.


Each attorney is sworn to preserve the confidence of a client. Attorney-Client Privilege provides our clients with the assurance of absolute confidentiality. Any information provided to Student Legal Services will not be disclosed to parents, the University, police agencies, or any other individual or party without the client’s express written consent, or as required by law. It is essential that every client disclose the facts of his/her case to the attorney in order to receive the best possible advice and representation. Confidentiality waivers are available upon request.

Contact Us

You must schedule an appointment in order to use Student Legal Services. Appointments will be scheduled during regular hours by either calling 517-353-3716 or visiting our office. You will be required to provide a valid student ID to verify eligibility.

Student Legal Services is located on the campus of Michigan State University at 556 E. Circle Drive, Rom 329, of the Student Services Building. Our office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Student Legal Services is closed Saturdays, Sundays, and all Michigan State University holidays.

Our office does not accept walk-ins or same day appointments and no advice will be given over the phone or via e-mail.

You are required to bring to your appointment any documentation that relates to your case. This includes all court notices and documents, police reports, tickets, lease, pictures, videos, e-mails, agreements and any other information that you think may help us assist you with your case.

Do not wait until the last minute to contact Student Legal Services.

Student Rights Advocates

If you need assistance in a University related case, please contact the Student Rights Advocates’ office at (517) 884-1253 or dsrals@asmsu.msu.edu. For information regarding the SRA services, please visit their webpage here www.asmsu.msu.edu/services/student-rights-advocates/.


This website is not meant to give legal advice or create an attorney client relationship. It is intended to provide students with general information only and should not be considered as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney.  If you need legal advice or representation, contact student legal services immediately to schedule an appointment.