Law Student Defense: Nova Southeastern University

The Shepard Broad College of Law (Nova Law) is a private law school established in 1974. The vibrant and diverse campus, coupled with the university's picturesque location in Broward County, equips students with tools to expand and enrich their legal knowledge. In addition to the standard J.D. degree, Nova Law also offers international Dual-Degree programs through collaboration with prominent universities in Italy, the Czech Republic, and Spain. Nova Law receives consistent recognition for its legal writing, trial advocacy, and health law programs. However, students must also maintain ethical conduct and demonstrate academic integrity to obtain their degrees and graduate on time.

Nova Law's high expectations prepare students for the responsibilities of their future profession as legal professionals. However, in some cases, the punishment for a violation, even a mistake, is overly harsh and unwarranted. Multiple violations lead to dismissal, placing the student at a disadvantage and potentially ruining their future career prospects. Without the help of an attorney-advisor, students may experience graduation delays or forgo their dream of becoming a lawyer altogether.

Code of Conduct and Academic Responsibility

The Academic Policies and Procedures page on the Nova Law website provides a brief overview of its standards regarding academic performance and student integrity. The statement touches on cheating and plagiarism, maintaining that these actions may lead to suspension or expulsion from the campus. The Code of Conduct and Academic Responsibility expands on academic misconduct violations in-depth, providing a clearer picture of the university's expectations and possible sanctions for infarctions. According to the statement, the following actions are prohibited and may lead to severe sanctions:

  • Cheating: Any act involving the deliberate use of unauthorized means to gain an advantage in an academic exercise or examination. Examples include any devices and study aids that a professor disapproves of for the activity.
  • Fabrication: The fabrication of information is when a student knowingly provides false or invented information and citations in an academic exercise.
  • Conspiring to Commit Academic Dishonesty: If a law student deliberately helps another person cheat or commit an act of academic dishonesty, they risk receiving sanctions.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a severe offense at Nova Law – and it is the only infarction with a separate policy and a list of guidelines to help students avoid it. When a student plagiarizes, they use another individual's work, theories, or ideas and don't give them credit for their work.
  • Misrepresentation: When a student exaggerates or knowingly misrepresents their knowledge, experience, or credentials to faculty members.
  • Bribery to Gain an Academic Advantage: Students may not bribe another student or faculty member to improve their grades.
  • Forgery or Document Alteration: Providing administrators with forged or altered documents or credentials is a severe offense that leads to disciplinary action.

Nova Law maintains its right to penalize students for performing any action considered an ethical concern. The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs handles academic misconduct cases. The Academic Disciplinary Process at Nova Law outlines the actions taken by administrators when an infarction occurs and details the hearing process.

Hearing Process

Upon suspicion of a violation, a faculty member or student files a complaint with the Office of the Dean. After receiving the complaint, the Dean may take two actions: refer the matter to the appropriate disciplinary body or appoint an investigator to review the allegations. The investigator presents their findings to the Hearing Officer, who further pursues the case and considers the investigator's recommendations. The Hearing Officer also has the right to determine the procedure of the informal hearing. After the hearing concludes, the officer makes a sanction recommendation.

The Appeals Process

Students may appeal the Hearing Officer's decision within five business days of receiving their recommendation. The student must send a written appeal letter to the Dean of the College of Law. Upon receiving the objection, the Dean conducts an appellate review of the case. They may reject the recommendation if they find that the determination was autocratic or impulsive. The Dean's decision is final regarding sanctions and not subject to further appeal.

Possible Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

Nova Law provides an extensive list of possible sanctions for academic misconduct in the Student Code. Depending on the infarction and previous incidents, the punishments range from mild to severe. They include:

  • Restriction of campus privileges
  • A verbal warning on the student's record and subject to removal only if the student avoids committing further violations
  • A disciplinary warning included in the student's record
  • Placement under disciplinary probation
  • Final disciplinary probation. If students violate the terms of their probation again, they face suspension.
  • Temporary suspension that may last for a short time
  • A dismissal that lasts longer than a temporary suspension and involves revoking the student's on-campus privileges
  • Expulsion from the university with no chance for future readmission under any condition

Due to the severity of these sanctions, students must prepare well for the hearing. The best way to do so is to work with an experienced attorney-advisor who understands what is at stake and works hard to reduce sanction severity.

Contacting an Attorney-Advisor

Attending law school is a privilege, and most students who want to become lawyers understand the challenges and rigors of their chosen field and tackle them head-on. However, when students make mistakes or receive an unsubstantiated punishment, they must fight back or risk losing their dream of becoming lawyers.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento works with law students nationwide, helping them counter allegations of academic misconduct. Advisor Lento fights passionately for the rights of students facing hearing panels, identifying bias, unfounded allegations, and procedural errors in the investigation process. With his experience and knowledge, Attorney-Advisor Lento helps students receive a fair outcome and may decrease the severity of sanctions.

Don't let a mistake or allegation become the roadblock that prevents you from graduating. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for more information.

Contact Us Today!

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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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