Academic Misconduct at the University of Southern California School of Law

It takes a lot of drive to succeed in law school. Expectations for aspiring law students are high, meaning that students must often strive beyond their means if they want to make an impression.

High expectations, however, can bring about serious consequences for students falsely accused of academic misconduct. The University of Southern California School of Law notes in its student code of conduct that it considers academic misconduct to include:

  • Plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Cheating
  • Fabrication
  • Multiple submissions
  • Aiding academic dishonesty
  • Coercion
  • Unapproved collaboration
  • Forgery
  • Theft
  • Misuse or unauthorized use of university property

Students accused of engaging in these behaviors can face serious consequences, even if those accusations are unfounded.

Penalties for Academic Misconduct

The penalties leveled against law students at the University of Southern California School of Law do not differ from the ones leveled against undergraduates and graduates in other programs. Should a law student face accusations of academic misconduct, that student risks penalties including:

  • A written or verbal warning
  • Temporary or permanent bans from parts of campus or from campus events
  • Community service
  • A letter of apology
  • Restitution
  • Participation in on-campus or off-campus educational programs designed to discourage academic misconduct
  • Participation in a Restorative Justice conference
  • Removal from on-campus housing
  • Revocation of a degree or the refusal to provide a student with a degree

Students may also face a deferred suspension or dismissal until they've gone through the University of Southern California School of Law's hearing process. Should a committee decide that the accusations leveled against a student hold water, then the student may face academic termination for an academic term, or that student may be barred from returning to campus entirely.

Students who are dismissed from the University of Southern California's School of Law will have their termination and the reason for it noted on their transcript. This means that students who are falsely accused and convicted of academic misconduct will have a much harder time getting back into the world of academia or even pursuing careers after their termination.

Academic Misconduct Hearings at the University of Southern California School of Law

The process through which a student at the University of Southern California's School of Law may be tried for academic misconduct involves the following steps:

  1. A professor, instructor, or other supervisory body must report the suspected academic misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct. These accusations must be submitted within one year of the proposed incident, or else they will not be considered by the university.
  2. The dean and other bodies deemed appropriate, ranging from the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to designees from other offices, will assess the report and determine to what degree the school's code of conduct has been violated or if it has been at all.
  3. Should the case merit further assessment, the accused student will receive a notice detailing what behaviors they're being charged with, how those charges violated the university's code of conduct, and what the student's next steps must be. Students have five days upon receiving notification of this kind to reach out to the Office of Student Conduct to schedule a meeting with the appropriate representatives.
  4. Students who fail to connect with the Office of Student Conduct will have a hold placed on their academic records. That student will not be able to attend classes, request their transcript, or otherwise graduate until the hold is removed.
  5. The student may meet with the dean and other appropriate bodies to discuss the accusation at hand and the university's next steps.
  6. At this point, the dean can choose to issue sanctions against the student or to drop the case.
  7. If the dean believes that the case needs further investigation, then the case may move into the jurisdiction of the Student Conduct Committee.
  8. Should the Student Conduct Committee take over a case, the accused student will receive an invitation to a hearing at which their behavior and evidence for and against the accusation may be discussed at length. The Student Conduct Committee, in turn, may choose to issue sanctions against the student so long as the attending dean believes that the sanctions are appropriate.

Students who disagree with the outcome of their meeting with the dean or an academic hearing may issue a written appeal to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs or another appropriate party within twenty days of their hearing. Should the appropriate parties decide to consider this appeal, then the student will be notified and invited to meet with said parties to discuss the case.

Student Disciplinary Records and the Bar Exam

The University of Southern California School of Law notes that any law students facing accusations of academic misconduct may have a more difficult time taking the Bar exam. Should these accusations fall through, students may proceed as normal. However, students brought up on academic misconduct will have that behavior noted on their disciplinary records. In turn, the University of Southern California law school will turn that record over to the Bar exam should the accused student wish to proceed with their law degree.

The Bar exam has the right to deny students accused of academic misconduct the opportunity to take the exam and enter the field of law. The exam board judges these cases on an individual basis, but even the potential inability to take the Bar may send an already-stressed law student into a professional tailspin.

Addressing Academic Misconduct Accusations With a Legal Advisor

Accusations of academic misconduct can do more than derail a law student's academic career. Law students who face these kinds of accusations can have their future in the legal field cut off entirely. Students and families enduring accusations of academic misconduct do not, however, have to navigate the University of Southern California School of Law's academic misconduct hearing process without help - nor should they, as law school disciplinary proceedings are characterized by an intense and rigorous process unlike most other academic institutions.

Students in need can reach out to Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm. During a case consultation, students and their families can discuss the accusations leveled against them with highly-experienced professionals and develop a plan for their defense.

Ready to build your case? Get in touch with the team at Lento Law Firm by calling 888-535-3686 or by using the firm's online form.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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