Greg Bal, Student Legal Services

Gregory Bal

Photo by Tim Schoon.

Greg Bal has the legal background to work in a courtroom. In his University of Iowa job, he educates the student population in efforts to keep them out of a courtroom.

As the supervising attorney for Student Legal Services (SLS) for more than four years, Bal has dedicated countless hours advising students by offering legal advice and representing students on a wide range of issues including landlord-tenant contracts, drug and alcohol charges, and family law.

In addition to his day job at the University, Bal is an award-winning photographer—his work has been featured in Vogue and the New York Times. Photography has been a longtime interest, a skill set he has taught himself over the past four years.

While this is impressive, it’s not necessarily his greatest claim to fame. Bal has a crepe named after him at Crepes Deluxe on College Street. Crepe DuBal, a recipe that he regularly ordered at the shop, is a crepe full of bananas, Nutella, toasted coconut, walnuts, and rum-soaked raisins.

Originally from India, Bal received an undergraduate degree in pre-med and psychology at Iowa State University in 1982 before earning a law degree from Drake University. Bal describes himself as an explorer always ready to try new activities, new foods, and new places.

Bal sat down with fyi to talk about his work for SLS, photography, and new adventures that he’s looking forward to this year.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I have the opportunity to work with both law students who help me with my caseload and all the students that come to the office looking for assistance. I try to educate my students about the law and what students can do to prepare themselves. We’re here for the students and I love interacting with them on a daily basis.

I’m constantly involved in outreach because I think this is such a valuable service. Students need to realize that mistakes happen but if you repeat them or don’t take care of the consequences, it could cost you a future opportunity. You can’t repeat mistakes in today’s economy.

How’s the future shaping for SLS?

We are busier than ever. There has been a steady increase since I’ve stepped into my role. SLS advises more than 300 students per quarter. We’re investigating the option of getting another part time attorney. But no matter how busy we get, students are always encouraged to come into our office. My message to everyone on campus is if a student ever comes to you looking for legal advice, send him or her to our office immediately.

A few of my favorite things…

Food with garlic and spices

Dry, full-bodied red wine

Saturday by Ian McEwan

Breaking Bad

Chicago Bulls

 

Check out Bal’s award-winning photos at gbalimages.com.

For more information about SLS, go to imu.uiowa.edu/legal-2.

You’re an award-winning photographer but you’ve just started this hobby a few years ago. What sparked your interest?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a photographer. I’ve gone through many hobbies since then but currently photography is my favorite.

I’ve had my photos featured in some exciting venues and mediums. The New York Times chose my photo of President Barack Obama for their slide show called “Documenting the Decade.” The photo now hangs in the permanent collection of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s political science department. I also had a photo win Best in Show last year and another photo won third place in the black-and-white category at the State Fair this year.

What’s your next adventure?

This year for the first time I will be taking about a dozen students to Bangalore, India, for a three-week Winterim program. The students and I will be going to the top law school in the country to study the interaction between law and social justice in India, specifically the issues of gender and sexuality, social and economic injustice, and the rights of the untouchables and women.

It’s a combination of lecture and field visits. I’m interested in how India is handling these issues. We will be going with a sense of humility. We can’t change everything but with all the people in India, this is a great opportunity to learn new ways to look at the world. I want the students to know that we are “global citizens.” They will come back and have innovative ideas that are outside the box.