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UC international student learns about U.S. law at Legal Help Center

At many universities in this country, opportunities for international students can be hard to come by. Fortunately, Cincinnati Law’s LLM program encourages and enables its students from around the world to gain practical experience in the American legal system. One such student, Elif Dalboy, has become the first LLM student to volunteer at the Hamilton County Municipal Court Help Center.

Dalboy was raised in Izmir, Turkey. She is a graduate of Dokuz Eylul University, where she earned her Bachelor’s of Law. She is now pursuing her Masters at Ankara University, focusing on private international law, particularly where it pertains to conflict-of-law issues, refugee law and citizenship law.

She is now here at the University of Cincinnati to learn more about the American legal system.

The Help Center was established in fall 2017 in order to provide more access to the legal system for low-income Cincinnatians who cannot afford expensive legal advice. It has already provided cost-free assistance to thousands.

Dalboy speaks directly to these citizens in need, ensuring that they are given the proper paperwork. She learns from the center’s director, attorney Rob Wall (a Cincinnati Law graduate). Most of the cases Dalboy deals with involve landlord-tenant disputes and small claims.

Dalboy calls her experiences in the Help Center “eye opening.”

“As a foreign LLM student, I chose to volunteer at the Help Center to learn the judicial system firsthand," she says. "I can now confidently say that I know how to file a small claims complaint, I know the main steps of an eviction and I’ve learned other procedural issues and some details that you cannot learn at law school.

At the Help Center, Dalboy has the opportunity to speak directly to citizens in need of assistance, ensuring that they are given the proper materials or paperwork to address their questions. She works closely with Rob Wall, learning the intricacies of the law. Most of the cases Dalboy handles involve landlord-tenant disputes and small claims.

"I encounter a wide range of legal issues and have a chance to see real-life legal disputes," she says. "I prepare written informational resources that deal with a wide range of legal issues. I provide forms and help self-represented people understand and easily navigate the complex court system. Overall, I highly recommend volunteering at the Help Center for future LLMs.”

She was once asked to sit with a magistrate and observe a proceeding. She notes that in Turkey, "we don't have that much leniency. You cannot just go and sit next to the judge."

Once she has completed the LLM program, Dalboy has her eyes set on making major inroads in the legal field. She plans to stay in the United States, preferably in New York City. She would like to practice American law and is also interested in providing legal advice to startups and businesses involved with venture capital.

Her expertise in international law, studies here at Cincinnati Law, and experience in the Help Center have readied her and will certainly give her an advantage.