Becoming a law student in the U.S. is no easy matter. You worked hard in college, and you're working even harder in law school. That's why, if someone raises an allegation of wrongdoing against you, you deserve to have your rights protected. You need to take fast and aggressive action to protect your professional and academic reputation.
Experienced Law School Student Discipline Attorney
As a law student, you've got just enough experience to understand how serious an allegation of academic or professional misconduct can be. But you also know that only a fool has himself as a client. You need an experienced student discipline attorney, someone with years of experience defending students and working with colleges and universities across the country.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented students at hundreds of universities across the country, acting as an attorney or advisor in thousands of academic and student discipline matters over the years. As a seasoned litigator and a skilled negotiator, he brings the talent necessary to diplomatically resolve your issues when possible and litigate them in court when necessary.
Issues Faced by Law Students
The most common disciplinary issues faced by law students fall under academic misconduct, professional misconduct, and personal misconduct.
Academic misconduct issues can involve allegations of plagiarism, cheating, collaborating without permission, sabotaging another student, burglary, and more. While we tend to assume that accusations of misconduct aren't serious, your professional reputation is also at stake. Even accusations you may laugh off in law school can end up reported to the state bar when you apply for admission, so it's important to handle any accusation, no matter how ridiculous, quickly.
While in law school, most schools expect their students to comply with the professional code of conduct for lawyers in the state when working in a law school clinic, internship, law clerk, or another similar program. Situations requiring professional conduct include working for a law school professor, legal services or clinics, a judge, or a law firm. Violations of an attorney's professional responsibility might include unethical or illegal conduct such as violating attorney-client privilege, unprofessional conduct while interviewing clients or witnesses, making misrepresentations to a court, or displaying bias.
Law students can also face allegations of personal misconduct for illegal actions or actions that violate the school's general code of conduct. Personal misconduct might include assaulting another student, illegally possessing drugs on campus, violating the school's computer or technology policies, sexual assault, hazing, or harassment.
While most law schools separate misconduct allegations into academic, professional, and personal, it's possible for an allegation against you to encompass more than one. You need an attorney-advisor who understands the full range of academic, personal, and professional consequences you can face because of one allegation against you in law school.
Disciplinary Review Process
How your law school will handle a disciplinary issue will depend in large part on the possible consequences. But each reported issue will have an investigation, a hearing, and then a possible appeal.
Investigation. Typically, anyone may institute a complaint against a student by notifying the law school or university. Each law school usually has a designated investigator who will follow up, begin the review process, and determine whether the allegations may have merit.
The process that follows after the investigation will depend on whether the school determines that the student may be expelled or removed from the school. Possible sanctions for law school disciplinary actions can include:
- Declaration of misconduct
- Monetary fines
- Repeating a class
- Denial of academic honors
- Disciplinary probation
- A grade of FX for the class, which is a completed course with no grade, no drop, and no withdrawal
- Suspension for a specified period
- Revocation of degree according to university rules
If dismissal or expulsion is a possible consequence, then the school will follow a formal hearing and review, allowing the student more due process. If the school determines that the consequences for an infraction could not rise to the level of dismissal, the school may use an informal hearing process. However, at most schools, an accused student may ask for a formal hearing and review process even if the school determines that it is possible to use an informal hearing.
Informal Hearing. For less serious infractions, many law schools will use an informal hearing to address allegations of misconduct.
Formal Hearing. For more serious infractions, law schools will use much more formal proceedings to allow accused students as much due process as possible. Formal hearings will typically have published procedures and legal standards, including:
- The right to an impartial disciplinary committee,
- The right to an impartial investigator,
- Written accusations,
- An opportunity to respond in writing,
- Some discovery of evidence,
- The right for the accused to be represented by an attorney or advisor,
- The right to cross-examine witnesses, including the accuser,
- The right of the accused to call witnesses and present evidence, and
- The right to a written report, including the conclusions and rationale of the committee and recommended sanctions.
Appeals. The law school disciplinary process usually includes the right to appeal the decision to the law school dean. Schools typically publish appeal rights with the rest of the disciplinary procedures or provide them to the accused after the disciplinary proceedings.
Representing Law School Students Throughout the United States
If you're facing an allegation of misconduct in law school, this is something you must take seriously. Even a law school allegation that you believe is minor can affect your ability to become a licensed attorney. Any finding of responsibility for an allegation will be included on your law school record and will be reported to the state bar when you apply for admission to the bar. Either your school will report it as part of their required law school certification or through your admission on the state bar's character and fitness exam. To protect your academic and professional reputation, you need to defend yourself aggressively.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced student discipline defense attorney-advisor who has helped countless students through disciplinary proceedings at law schools nationwide. He can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.
Law Schools where Joseph D. Lento can serve as your attorney-advisor during law school investigations, hearings, and appeals, include but aren't limited to the following: