How the Lento Law Firm Came to Be an Authority on Student Discipline Defense
Early in my legal career, I represented a young person charged with an unspeakable crime that was alleged to have taken place where he attended school. My client, a student at a prestigious, nationally-recognized university, was on the fast track to a successful academic and professional career until his hopes and aspirations came to a (brief) halt after serious allegations were made against him by a fellow student. I knew my client would be vindicated when he had his day in court, which ultimately was the case, but during the course of my representation for his criminal matter, my client came to be charged by his school for violating the school's code of conduct. The student disciplinary process commenced, and I was tasked with representing my client for this separate, but very much related matter.
At that point in my career, I had already tried countless criminal cases so I was thoroughly familiar with the rights afforded to a criminal defendant. As importantly, I knew how to leverage these rights to obtain a favorable outcome for clients facing criminal charges. I quickly learned that the rights afforded an accused student in school disciplinary matters are very different. In a criminal prosecution, as unenviable as it is to be the target of the government with all of its resources, countless procedural safeguards exist to protect the rights of the accused. This is in stark contrast to what takes place in the world of higher education during the student disciplinary process.
Limited Rights and Insufficient Safeguards
Oftentimes, accused students find themselves at the mercy of their schools with limited rights, insufficient safeguards, and little in the way of adequate counsel that is very much needed to properly defend against alleged school violations, not to mention alleged criminal violations that schools sometimes take it upon themselves to prosecute. I saw what my client was up against at his school due to the allegations he faced, and I recognized that as serious as the criminal case against him was, he also greatly needed my representation through the student disciplinary process in order to ensure a just result.
It is obvious that as well-intentioned as schools may be, the student disciplinary process is predisposed for injustice to occur. Early on, I recognized an important need existed, and I dedicated myself to ensuring that my clients' interests are protected and that they are not victims of the flawed student disciplinary process. Over the years, I have come to successfully handle student disciplinary matters at many colleges and universities through all stages of the process, I have developed relationships at many schools, and I know what is needed to get my clients results in matters involving code of conduct disciplinary violations, Title IX sexual misconduct offenses, and academic misconduct charges
Successfully Handling Student Disciplinary Matters
My experience is vast. I have successfully handled thousands of cases, some making national news, and I learned the practice of law in the trenches of the rough and tumble Philadelphia court system, one of the nation's highest stakes forums. Although a criminal prosecution is different in many respects than the student disciplinary process, there are many similarities. More importantly, the preparation that goes into a criminal case, the experience of knowing what evidence must be brought to attention and what must be emphasized, being there for a client and his or her family, and ultimately, getting them through what often is one of the most difficult times in their lives, all directly translates to successfully handling a student disciplinary matter.
As critical as it is to have experienced counsel as early as possible during the student disciplinary process, students and their families often find themselves seeking my representation after receiving an unexpected and disproportionate sanction from the school. Regretfully, and often only after sanctions are imposed, students and parents then realize that colleges and universities take alleged disciplinary violations, even ones that may seem to be of less consequence, very seriously. When that occurs, all is not lost – I have handled countless appeals at countless schools, and as difficult as an appeal at times can be to win, it oftentimes is the last resort to keep an accused student's academic goals and aspirations, and ultimately, career goals and aspirations, on track.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento Does Not Stop Until He Gets Results!
Whether I represent an accused student at the beginning of the student disciplinary process, whether at my client's side or in my client's corner at the disciplinary hearing, or whether students and families seek my experience and expertise regarding an appeal, I do not stop until I get my clients results!