University Park

Student Legal Services awarded for efforts in advising students and alumni

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In collaboration with the Centre County Bar Association and Mid-Penn Legal Services, the Office of Student Legal Services at Penn State developed and held an expungement clinic this past October. The project received the County Bar Recognition award from the Pennsylvania Bar Association on Feb. 22, for the office's efforts in providing legal support to students and alumni.

The award was presented at the Conference of County Bar Leaders, held Feb. 21-23 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

The PA Bar association recognized the collaborative efforts of the Centre County Bar Association, Mid-Penn Legal Services, and the Office of Student Legal Services at Penn State to developed and held an expungement clinic this past October. From left to right, Sharon Barney of Leech Tishman, Sarah Stoltz and Kelly Mroz of Penn State Student Legal Services, and Robin Foor and Kathy Cella of Mid-Penn Legal Services.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons


Student Legal Services, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, took a lead role in this collaboration, as they saw it as an opportunity to give students free legal help to expunge a criminal charge that they received while at Penn State that is not eligible for expungement until after they graduate.

Kelly Mroz, director of Student Legal Services, said that the office is proud of the award given by the Pennsylvania Bar Association to the Centre County Bar Association, as it recognizes the effectiveness of this collaboration.

Mroz added that this collaboration, “harnessed the power of the local organized bar association to provide an important benefit to the community and to Penn State.”

According to Mroz, the office of Student Legal Services prepares around 200 expungement petitions per year for students. Mroz added that many of those who apply are not eligible for expungement until after they graduate.

After seeing the need for this service, Mroz reached out to Sharon Barney, an attorney at Leech Tishman and co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Legal Services to the Public Committee; Robin Foor, managing attorney of MidPenn Legal Services; and Hollyce Winters, executive director of the Centre County Bar Association. Sarah Stolz, staff attorney at Student Legal Services, also took a leadership role in coordinating the local clinic.

Mroz says that while each of the organizations had their own specific reasons for creating an expungement clinic in Centre County, they all saw the potential benefits of collaboration. Each organization was able to utilize their strengths to create a successful event.

Mroz says that this is an important resource for students because criminal records can be a barrier to employment.

“It is important for students to know when, if or how they can seal or erase that criminal record to maximize the value of their degree,” Mroz said.

Students who are enrolled at University Park can contact Student Legal Services for help with no cost in expungements. However, Mroz added that some types of expungements are not available until five years or longer after the citation or charge is resolved.

Clinic attorneys can help individuals understand if and when they might be eligible to apply to have their record expunged or sealed. The rules are complicated, but some general categories where individuals may be eligible for expungement or sealing of their record may include:

  • Cases where they were not convicted of the citation or charge, including diversionary programs where the citation or charge was dismissed;
  • Underage citations after they turn 21;
  • Summary offenses once they’ve had a clean record for 5 years; and
  • Some, but not all, misdemeanor offenses after they’ve had a clean record for 10 years.

For felony offenses and other offenses that are never eligible for expungement or sealing, the attorneys at the clinic can discuss the process of applying for a pardon.

Student Legal Services plans on holding clinics annually, which allows alumni the opportunity to utilize a free, local expungement clinic when they need it. 

Last Updated March 21, 2019