National academic attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students nationwide defend and defeat allegations of academic, behavioral, or professional misconduct, to avoid college or university dismissal or other discipline. Learn more here about why retaining nationwide academic attorney Lento makes far more sense than hiring a local attorney who lacks attorney Lento's vast academic knowledge, skill, and experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where Is Attorney Lento's Office Located?
Attorney Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm have seven law offices strategically located across the country in California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. These strategic locations, plus Of Counsel relationships with law firms located in many other states, enable attorney Lento to serve clients nationwide, in all fifty states. Attorney Lento has represented countless students and others in academia at schools across all corners of the United States - from Maine to Hawaii and from Alaska to Texas and everywhere in between - and he has also represented many clients who are studying or teaching abroad - for example, in Asia, Europe, the Mideast, and the Caribbean. Don't let office location keep you from retaining the best available national academic attorney for student discipline defense.
In What Field of Law Does Attorney Lento Practice?
Student discipline defense. Through many years of helping students nationwide defend and defeat academic, behavioral, and professional misconduct charges, attorney Lento has built what lawyers call a boutique practice in student discipline defense. A boutique practice means that attorney Lento has nationally recognized knowledge, skill, and experience in a narrow field of law in which very few lawyers specialize because it requires uncommon knowledge and extraordinary skill. Lawyers don't dabble in student discipline defense. They're either all in, or they risk incompetence. Attorney Lento is all in on student discipline defense.
3. What Other Legal Experience Does Attorney Lento Have?
Attorney Lento first honed his extraordinary skill in and commitment to student discipline defense by serving for many years in several roles in Philadelphia's criminal justice system. Attorney Lento worked with a legendary Philadelphia criminal defense attorney. He was also a select private attorney for the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, providing him with incomparable trial experience refining his extraordinary trial expertise. Attorney Lento has defended thousands of clients charged with the most serious crimes in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and other locations. Criminal defense practice taught attorney Lento the trial skills, constitutional law, and procedural strategies, and confirmed his passion for fair treatment of the oppressed, which together serve clients so extraordinarily well in student discipline defense.
4. What Professional Associations Does Attorney Lento Have?
Attorney Lento holds law licenses from the state bars in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Few lawyers hold multiple law licenses, especially from such rigorous bars with such high standards. Attorney Lento is also a member of many other bar associations, including the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, the New York State Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section, the Philadelphia Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section, the Philadelphia Criminal Law American Inn of Court as a founding member, the National Police Accountability Project, and the Federal Circuit Bar Association.
5. Does Attorney Lento Have School Law Experience?
Yes, abundant experience. Attorney Lento's most relevant experience by far is his many years of representing hundreds of students nationwide in disputes with high schools, colleges, and universities. Few if any lawyers have equivalent national school law experience. Attorney Lento has also worked with the School District of Philadelphia and with at-risk youth for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. His other government experience includes service as Government Counsel and City Solicitor for Penns Grove, New Jersey.
6. Why Does My Attorney Need Nationwide Experience?
You aren't at all likely to find a local lawyer with substantial, if any, academic administrative experience and expertise in student discipline defense. Many local lawyers have general law practices in which they handle a little estate planning, a little divorce work, some criminal defense, some property closings, and just about anything else that walks in the door. They may be outstanding practitioners in one or more of those general-practice fields. Even if not outstanding, their basic competence is fine for those practice areas when the work is not especially complex and is instead routine. Student discipline defense is unlike any common law practice area. Student discipline defense is instead highly specialized, involving arcane administrative regulations, dense constitutional law and principles, vague school policies and procedures, and unwritten academic customs and preferences. Students also have their futures at stake in student discipline cases, with far more on the line than many general-practice lawyers are accustomed to handling. Students need national academic attorney Joseph Lento on their side, not a wills-and-trusts lawyer who has no precedent for successfully resolving student discipline cases.
7. Why Does My Attorney Need Academic Experience?
The academy is its own world. Provosts, deans, department chairs, professors, advisors, counselors, directors, proctors, and other school officials often involved in student discipline have their own language, customs, norms, roles, titles, functions, worries, concerns, and interests. Attorneys without academic experience don't know those particulars. You wouldn't hire a fishing guide for a hunting trip. To mount an effective defense, students facing discipline need an academic attorney who can understand the motivations, interests, thoughts, words, and actions of school officials and administrators. A student discipline defense attorney must also be able to convincingly influence discipline officials and school administrators, speaking their language and appealing to their interests. You wouldn't hire a Spanish interpreter for a trip through France. From many years of experience in colleges and universities across the nation, attorney Lento knows how school discipline officials and administrators operate. Attorney Lento also knows how to turn that insight to your strategic advantage. Read his recommendations. That success isn't luck. It's hard-won knowledge, skill, judgment, and insight.
8. Can Attorney Lento Share Student Recommendations?
Yes. See these dozens of attorney Lento's many more glowing student and parent recommendations. They include just about every superlative you can imagine. Their overall impression, though, is one of great relief and great appreciation for attorney Lento's incredibly swift response to each student's case, his unerring judgment, his courage, passion, and commitment to each student's defense, and his extraordinary acumen for the investigation, presentation, negotiation, advocacy, and diplomacy that student discipline defense takes. Read the many recommendations.
9. Is Attorney Lento Currently Accepting Cases?
Yes. You can tell the Lento Law Firm about your case right now online by website email or chat, or by calling (888) 535-3686 or (888) J.D. LENTO. Do not delay. Student discipline matters typically have very short deadlines and condensed time schedules, from start to finish. Act now before you lose important opportunities and rights.
10. What Type of Discipline Cases Is Attorney Lento Accepting?
Attorney Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm represent students in all kinds of matters in which the student's educational program is at risk. Attorney Lento defends charges of academic misconduct such as cheating, plagiarism, and unauthorized collaboration. Attorney Lento defends charges of behavioral misconduct such as alcohol or drug use or possession, vandalism, trespassing, or sexual misconduct. He also represents students in professional misconduct matters such as criminal convictions outside of school involving violence or dishonesty, abuse or neglect of patients, and academic or other fraud or financial misconduct. Attorney Lento also helps students negotiate effective remediation programs when the student's academic standing falls near or below minimum standards. Do not hesitate to contact the Lento Law Firm for any school performance or conduct matter at which the student's ability to continue the education is at risk.
11. How Do I Retain Attorney Lento?
When you contact the Lento Law Firm online or by calling (888) 535-3686, you will leave enough information about your matter for the Lento Law Firm to confirm that it has no conflicts of interest to prevent it from representing you. You will also receive clear and understandable information to review about the financial and other terms of attorney Lento's representation. Once the Lento Law Firm offers you a representation agreement, and you sign and return it as it requires with the law firm's acknowledgment, you will have retained attorney Lento for your student discipline defense. Attorney Lento will promptly go to work for you to help you defend and defeat discipline.
12. What Will Attorney Lento Be Able to Do for Me?
Attorney Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm will first research, investigate, and confirm your school's applicable policies and procedures, and information about the charges you face. Attorney Lento then helps you understand the charges, their potential impact, the procedural options you have to address the charges, and the strategic approach that should work best. Once you choose and authorize the best option, attorney Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm can help you identify and analyze the value of witnesses, exhibits, and other evidence, while organizing that evidence for effective presentation. Attorney Lento can also handle school communications about the charges for you, draft or help you draft responses to the school, and initiate and handle negotiations, whether at in-person meetings, by videoconference or teleconference, or by text and email. Attorney Lento can also attend meetings and participate in the discipline hearing as federal regulations authorize and school procedures permit. Attorney Lento also helps you evaluate school offers, evidence, and decisions, and file and pursue appeals or other relief within the school. You may also retain attorney Lento for related litigation if necessary and appropriate.
13. May the School Limit What My Attorney Does for Me?
Schools may limit an attorney's direct participation in certain discipline hearings, and many do so. But schools cannot prohibit you from retaining attorney Lento, nor may they interfere with his guiding, counseling, and advising you throughout the process. In Title IX sexual misconduct cases, your school must permit your attorney to attend the discipline hearing and to cross-examine witnesses at the discipline hearing. Rules for other misconduct cases vary from school to school as to how much direct participation your attorney may have at meetings and hearings. But many schools encourage students to retain their own attorney for discipline matters and welcome your attorney's communication and negotiation on your behalf. Your attorney's assistance remains highly valuable to you, even if the school limits the attorney's direct participation in certain meetings and hearings.
14. Will the School Hire an Attorney for Me Instead?
Very probably not. Student discipline is a civil, not a criminal, matter. You have no constitutional right to an attorney, even if you cannot afford one. Some colleges and universities require that the accused student have an advisor. Those schools will generally assign an advisor if the student does not retain one. The advisors, though, are typically university employees having that conflict of interest. They are not independent and may not have your best interests at heart. The assigned advisor may also not be an attorney and may thus lack an attorney's knowledge and skills. In short, if you get help from the school, it may not be the kind of help that you need. Instead, retain national academic attorney Joseph Lento.
15. What Character Should My Academic Attorney Have?
Passionate, uber-committed, strong, and aggressive, but also discerning, fair, strategic, and capable of being diplomatic. Students facing discipline need a fighter in their corner because discipline cases are very like the student against the world. Depending on the alleged misconduct, everyone including professors, student peers, school staff, school administrators, and in the hardest cases even friends and family members may abandon the student. The school has vastly more personnel, experience, resources, and control. The school's many advantages and the student's disadvantages are why the student needs the aggressive and courageous representation of attorney Lento. But the student doesn't want a bull in the china shop. At times, discretion is the better part of valor. Diplomatic skills can be especially helpful in negotiations that show school officials better options than the student's dismissal. Attorney Lento is so successful representing students nationwide because he combines the aggressive and courageous with the discerning and diplomatic. You can do no better than to hire attorney Lento.
16. How Does Experience Help in Student Discipline Defense?
Experience plays an outsized role in student discipline defense. Court decisions get collected, analyzed, summarized, and reported in law volumes and electronic databases that form the foundation for legal research. Lawyers practicing in court simply research the published case law to get up to speed on the criminal or civil law subject and topic. By contrast, no one much collects, analyzes, and reports college and university discipline decisions. The only way or primary way in which lawyers can gain substantive and procedural insights in student discipline defense is to have been there and done that. Attorney Lento's vast experience in nationwide student discipline defense has given him a treasure trove from which to draw to understand, advocate, and negotiate college or university relief. From that vast experience, attorney Lento typically knows far more about student discipline than any of the school adversaries with whom he negotiates and litigates. In some fields, experience is the only or primary teacher. Student discipline defense is one of those fields.
17. Does My Attorney Need Litigation Skills?
Yes. Colleges and universities don't look like courtrooms. They are instead educational institutions, all about collegiality and collaboration. But when they charge a student with misconduct, especially serious misconduct that may warrant dismissal from the school, the discipline procedures take on the character of serious adversarial litigation. Misconduct charges pit the school and complainant against the accused student, with the accused student's educational future on the line. Those stakes are high, every bit as high as many criminal and civil matters that the courts litigate. The procedures that schools follow are also basically litigation procedures. The procedural rules can be nearly as elaborate as court rules. School discipline proceedings can include stages very like litigation's discovery, pretrial, trial, post-trial, and appeal stages. Discipline hearings can involve presenting witnesses for direct and cross-examination, and introducing exhibits, just like court trial procedures. Attorney Lento has the civil and criminal litigation skills that student discipline defense requires. You need a lawyer with those skills.
18. Should My Attorney Have Administrative Experience?
Yes. Administrative forums and procedures, like those that colleges and universities provide and follow in student discipline proceedings, throw off guard lawyers who practice only in court. Administrative procedures are less developed, more informal, and more abbreviated than court procedures. Administrative proceedings can follow unwritten customs more so than written rules, and determine important outcomes more on soft norms than on objective standards. Administrative lawyers must know how to accomplish more with less--less time, fewer filings, fewer rules, and fewer opportunities to investigate, discover, present, advocate, influence, negotiate, and impress. Administrative lawyers have to know the unwritten customs, rules, and norms, which means to be effective, they need experience. Attorney Lento has many years of academic administrative experience, making him an administrative lawyer of the first order.
19. What Drives Attorney Lento?
You are right that a lawyer doesn't develop a premier nationwide practice in student discipline defense without something driving the lawyer to be the very best. Attorney Lento has a passion for student success. He knows that education is an enormous leg up on the hard things of the world, like providing for oneself and one's family. Attorney Lento also knows how casually and carelessly colleges and universities can, in their worst moments, treat a student's educational future. Attorney Lento knows what students have on the line, and his experience fighting for students has taught him how to save their education, career, and future. Winning for students is also an enormous reward for attorney Lento. Watch this video to learn more about what drives attorney Lento to be the best at student discipline defense. Read here how attorney Lento got started in student discipline defense.
20. Can I Handle My Discipline Defense Without a Lawyer?
Yes, but you will much more likely lose than if you had retained attorney Lento. In most cases other than Title IX sexual misconduct, colleges and universities design their discipline procedures assuming that many students will go it alone. They do so in part because student discipline can involve minor matters like unpaid parking tickets or library fines that do not place the student at serious risk of suspension or dismissal. Discipline is often routine and minor. But whenever the risks rise to the possibility of reprimand, probation, suspension, and dismissal, students need representation. Those forms of discipline can leave permanent marks on the student's record, effectively disqualifying the student from better opportunities. Dismissal does far worse, often leaving the student without any reasonable path forward other than to abandon the education at great costs and loss. In short, students have way too much at stake when falling suspension or dismissal to do anything other than retain the best available academic attorney Joseph Lento.
21. What If My Discipline Involves Criminal Allegations?
Attorney Lento is a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer, and so he knows the risks that a student discipline proceeding involving allegations of crime can present to a student. That risk is that the college or university proceeding will get the attention of local police and prosecutors, resulting in criminal charges. Attorney Lento often plans strategically with student clients, and communicates and negotiates with school officials, to reduce the risk of criminal charges. Above all, attorney Lento ensures that the student client avoids incriminating statements and admissions that police and prosecutors might use against the student in a criminal proceeding. Students have a privilege against self-incrimination in criminal proceedings, of which attorney Lento is well aware and ready to preserve for students involved in disciplinary proceedings. Attorney Lento also coordinates the student discipline defense with local criminal defense counsel in the criminal proceeding, if the student is already involved in a related criminal proceeding. If your case involves criminal allegations, then you can do no better than to hire attorney Lento.
22. Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Discipline Defense?
No, you would do far better with an academic attorney with criminal defense skills and experience, attorney Joseph Lento. Schools frequently charge students in disciplinary proceedings with misconduct that, if true as alleged, would also constitute a crime. The crime may be a sex crime, underage alcohol crime, drug possession crime, or crime of violence. You might assume that police and prosecutors would want to charge those same crimes in the criminal courts. But the prosecution has a much higher proof burden, beyond a reasonable doubt, than the schools have in discipline proceedings, often a preponderance of the evidence. Prosecutors do not generally pursue coin-flip charges, where the evidence balances about equally between accuser and accused. Schools, though, may well pursue those close-call cases, given that they need only show the disciplinary charge to be more probable than not. Attorney Lento has the academic administrative experience to defend and defeat a school disciplinary charge, even on the preponderance standard. Local criminal defense lawyers generally do not have those skills. You would likely do far better to retain attorney Lento than a local criminal defense lawyer. If the prosecutor does pursue criminal charges, then hire the local criminal defense lawyer, so that attorney Lento can coordinate the discipline defense with that criminal charge.
23. Does Attorney Lento Have Strong Staff Support?
Yes. The Lento Law Firm also employs highly experienced civil litigation attorney Keith Altman whose representation of individuals and consumers in complex cases against large and highly sophisticated corporations has given him the character, skills, and experience to support attorney Lento's student discipline defense. The Lento Law Firm also employs skilled and experienced legal staff and staff investigators, and partners with other forensics experts and investigators throughout the nation, to have the strongest available team. Attorney Lento is the leader and principal figure of a well-equipped team, expertly assembled and tuned for student discipline defense.
24. Can Attorney Lento Help with Media Coverage?
Yes. Attorney Lento has substantial experience representing students and other clients in matters that have attracted local, national, and even international media coverage. He knows the interest that clients can have in correcting misinformation that school officials, complainants, and commentators spread in the media. Attorney Lento can act as a skilled spokesperson in the press when necessary and appropriate to the student's defense. Ordinarily, no news is good news when the subject is a student's disciplinary proceeding. But some disciplinary proceedings spill over into the press. And when they do so, the student needs a representative capable of speaking the truth succinctly and convincingly in the press. Attorney Lento is that representative. See an example of attorney Lento speaking to television media near the bottom of this media coverage page.
25. Can Attorney Lento Help with an Appeal of Discipline?
Yes. Attorney Lento has successfully helped many students appeal discipline including discipline that the school imposed before the student retained attorney Lento. You can, in other words, retain attorney Lento only for an appeal after the school imposes discipline, although the far better course is to retain attorney Lento to challenge the discipline in the initial proceeding before the necessity of an appeal. Attorney Lento has the special skills of an academic appellate attorney, both knowing the academic administrative rules, norms, customs, and culture, and having the analytic and brief-writing skills of an appellate attorney. Don't retain any appellate attorney. Retain attorney Lento for both the academic experience and the appellate skills.