Academic appeal attorney Joseph Lento has successfully represented thousands of college and university students nationwide, challenging and defeating charges of academic misconduct at initial hearings. Why, though, would college and university students need the expert appeal services of national academic appellate attorney Joseph D. Lento? One can certainly see the need for a skilled academic attorney to defend and defeat false, exaggerated, and unfair college academic misconduct charges. College academic misconduct can be hard to define and thus hard to defend. A premier academic attorney levels the playing field for the confused and frightened student.
A primary reason why academic appeal services are necessary is that many college and university students make the mistake of not hiring an experienced academic attorney to contest academic misconduct charges at the outset. Without a skilled advocate coming to the accused student's proper defense, the college or university then holds the student responsible for misconduct they did not commit or imposes wholly disproportionate sanctions, which at times may include suspension or expulsion. Only then does the student seek the help of an academic appellate attorney.
Students, one would think, should know better to hire a preeminent academic attorney in the first go-round, rather than losing first and then trying for an appeal. But the pattern persists, likely for the following reasons. These reasons help explain the value and urgency of an appeal. They also explain the critical value of retaining premier national academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento who devotes his nationwide law practice to college academic misconduct defense.
No student goes to college planning on getting charged with academic misconduct. Students instead learn in high school and earlier that cheating is wrong and that punishment follows. The punishments in grade school up through high school are intentionally not so severe. It's not that grade school teachers and administrators don't care about the ethical formation of their students. They do care. They just recognize that grade school is still a time of ethical formation. High school students may cheat but suffer only corrective, rather than condemning, punishment. What good does it do to kick a student out of high school for academic misconduct? The common course is instead to correct and coach those students into proper behavior.
Colleges and universities, though, don't treat academic misconduct so lightly. When college academic misconduct in its more serious forms occurs, colleges and universities often don't treat it as another opportunity for the student to learn hard lessons. Instead, colleges and universities often treat academic misconduct, especially in its more serious forms, as disqualifying the wrongdoer student from their degree programs and other educational opportunities. Sometimes, a college or university will focus on teaching the errant student a lesson while permitting the student to persist in the program. Often, though, the college or university, or the internship or employer evaluating your college academic record, treats academic misconduct as one strike, and you're out. Students are supposed to learn in high school not to cheat. Colleges and universities have other things to teach beyond basic honesty. At college or the university, cheating can get the student suspended or kicked out. Even if the college or university lets the student persist, a record of cheating can disqualify the student from graduate school, professional school, licenses and certifications, or desired employment.
Unfortunately, some students mistakenly assume that colleges and universities don't treat academic misconduct so seriously and harshly, and instead treat it more like grade schools treat it, as another safe opportunity to learn. That's not to say that students come to college expecting to cheat and get away with it. To the contrary, college students are generally decent in their character and earnest in their intentions. Yet college students can easily misunderstand higher-education norms and customs around technical things like plagiarism and multiple submissions, and by doing so fall into a careless practice that can look like deliberate cheating. And professors and proctors can make mistakes identifying cheating or the cheating student, or in the worst case act vengefully, bringing about false charges against an innocent student. No matter the student's acts, intentions, character, guilt, or innocence, college and university students must treat an academic misconduct charge seriously, not like high school.
Ignoring Academic Misconduct Charges
Unfortunately, when students bring to college or university their lax high school expectations of how the institution will treat academic misconduct, they tend to ignore the seriousness of academic misconduct charges. They may get the institution's timely and formal notice of academic misconduct charges, but they may not do anything about those charges, or they may do the least that they can without entirely ignoring them. College and university students can also be busy, challenged, covering a lot of bases, and unprepared to manage all responsibilities on their own at once.
Suffering the Consequences
Yet ignorance isn't bliss. Ignoring college academic misconduct charges vastly increases the likelihood of an adverse decision. It also vastly increases the likelihood of a sanction that could impede your academic progress and educational and vocational future. When a student fails or refuses to respond to the institution's notice of academic misconduct charges, the institution doesn't dismiss or delay the proceeding. The institution goes ahead with the proceeding. The institution may treat the student's absence as a default on the allegations. In other words, the institution may assume that the absent student agrees with the charges. The University of Nebraska's Student Code of Conduct is an example in which the school deems a student's failure to respond to a proposed administrative resolution as an agreement with the resolution. Some decision-makers will do even worse, taking the student's absence as another indication, along with the charged misconduct itself, of the student's poor character. A college or university student ignores academic misconduct charges very much at the student's significant peril.
An Appeal as a Second Bite at the Apple
Fortunately, students who suffer unjust academic misconduct findings or sanctions, whether because they ignored the charges, failed to retain expert representation, or for other reasons, usually have an appeal available to them. College and university academic misconduct procedures vary from school to school. Most schools, though, provide for some form of review of the initial decision that a student committed academic misconduct and deserves a certain sanction. The University of Nebraska's Student Code of Conduct cited above is an example offering an appeal procedure. A hearing officer or hearing panel likely made the initial misconduct finding imposing the initial sanction. An appeal triggers another official or panel's appellate review of that finding and sanction. The University of Nebraska's Student Code of Conduct, for instance, gives the appealing student a choice of having an Appeals Officer or Appeals Board hear the student's appeal. An appeal isn't entirely a second bite at the apple. Colleges and universities tend to limit appeal grounds while giving some deference to the initial decision. The University of Nebraska's Student Code of Conduct, for instance, limits appeals to clearly excessive sanctions, failing to follow hearing procedures leading to a wrong outcome, or insufficient evidence to allow a reasonable person to conclude misconduct. But even within the limited grounds for an appeal, an appeal is definitely another chance for relief, including for reversal of the finding and sanction.
An Academic Appellate Attorney to the Rescue
Appellate review, though, does not typically happen automatically. The student must instead appeal. The student must take specific, timely action to invoke appellate review. That's where an academic appellate attorney comes in. Colleges and universities tend to sharply limit the time within which to appeal, to periods as short as a few days. They also tend to require that the appeal go to a certain official in a certain form, with a compelling presentation meeting specific appeal criteria and with supporting references to the hearing transcript or record. These actions are not for laypersons, even bright college or university students. These skills are instead those of an academic appellate attorney. That's why when you hire premier academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento to initiate and handle your appeal, it can feel very much like attorney Lento has come to your rescue. Your burden to proceed shifts to attorney Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm as soon as you retain his representation and supply the necessary information or documentation to begin the representation.
Attorney Lento's Special Appellate Expertise
Few lawyers handle academic misconduct appeals, and even fewer are qualified to do so at the highest levels. Academic misconduct appeals are a highly specialized form of appeal, not for any lawyer, even an appellate lawyer who is accomplished outside of academic administrative matters. You need an appellate lawyer who knows the peculiar norms and customs of acedemia that inform misconduct determinations. National academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento is that lawyer. His many years successfully representing hundreds of college and university students nationwide has given him intimate knowledge of the wiles and whims of college professors and administrators, and how they define and treat academic misconduct. Attorney Lento combines that experience with the bold and confident character, and fine strategic skills, of a trial lawyer, indeed a criminal-defense lawyer. Yet attorney Lento has also assembled an experienced team at the Lento Law Firm to review the academic record to craft the written arguments necessary to make a compelling appeal. A successful academic appeal requires inside knowledge, strategic approach, and fine writing skills, all premier attributes of academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm.
An Academic Appeal Is Not a Court Appeal
An academic appellate attorney faces a different challenge, and a greater challenge, than the lawyer who handles court appeals. Courts have elaborate procedural rules for appeals, interpreted by more elaborate case law. Appellate lawyers know the rules and norms for court appeals. Academic appeals, though, are administrative appeals, not court appeals. Colleges and universities tend not to publish elaborate rules for their administrative appeals, instead only a short paragraph or so of guidance. Academic appellate attorneys must know the unpublished customs. They must also know academic terminology, hierarchy, and sensitivities. Every field has its peculiar practices that can take a long time to learn. Colleges and universities are no different. Attorney Lento's many years of nationwide experience have taught him those practices. That knowledge and experience is what makes him an effective academic appellate attorney.
What Schools Suggest that Your Appeal Do
College and university academic misconduct appeal procedures tend to mislead the reader as to the necessary form of a compelling appeal. Those procedures tell you only the minimum to invoke an appeal. They don't tell you what an effective appeal by a premier academic appellate attorney actually requires. The University of Nebraska's Student Code of Conduct, for instance, states simply: “In order to appeal, a Respondent must send an email to the person identified in the letter of decision and attach a letter that explains in detail the reasons why the decision should be overturned within ten (10) University days of the date of the letter of decision.” In by far most appeals, a brief email with a letter won't at all do. That's a sure way to lose an appeal. The student who sends an email and letter arguing that the decision was wrong, without doing substantially more, is very likely to lose that appeal.
What a Premier Academic Appellate Attorney Actually Does
Far from the simple letter that many college and university appeal procedures invite, a premier academic appellate attorney will instead take several steps, some relatively simple but still important, while others subtle and complex, to perfect and pursue a compelling academic administrative appeal. The question isn't simply having an attorney to take these steps but instead having an academic appellate attorney to take these steps with their full and compelling effect. The critical steps include the following:
- timely file the appeal with the right college or university office or official, in the correct form, in a clear, firm, and articulate manner alerting the school that the appealing student has retained accomplished national counsel;
- promptly obtain from the school the complete hearing transcript and record, without any omissions or delay that could compromise the appeal's thoroughness, timeliness, and accuracy;
- scrupulously review the transcript and record for all procedural irregularities and substantive errors affecting the outcome, with pinpoint citations to those errors;
- summarize that record into a compelling statement of facts, revealing the biases, prejudices, lack of foundation, carelessness, or other inappropriate motivations, attitudes, and circumstances that influenced and led to the errors;
- research, cite, quote, interpret, and summarize in a clear statement of authority the applicable law, rules, regulations, and course policies, procedures, and instructions;
- apply that authority in an analysis that integrates the authority with the statement of facts drawn from the record to demonstrate the compelling error;
- discern and advocate the ethical, moral, economic, social, institutional, and other policy interests that urge the misconduct finding's reversal or a reversal or reduction of the sanction;
- draft a clear, firm, and achievable request for relief within the appeal official's authority and the institution's rules and norms; and
- timely convey the required number of copies of the articulate appeal brief in the required form to the proper appeal office or official.
Oral Argument of Appeals
The quality of your appeal brief is critical because the academic misconduct appeal policies of many colleges and universities require the appeal officer or board to decide the appeal on the brief alone. Some colleges and universities, though, permit the appealing student to make an oral presentation highlighting the written appeal arguments. Once again, the University of Nebraska's Student Code of Conduct is an example of that extra opportunity. Appellate lawyers who practice only in appellate courts are familiar with oral arguments, which have their own customs and lore. One such myth is that briefs win appeals, while oral arguments lose them. While that lore may hold some truth that a stumbling oral argument can undermine a compelling brief, oral argument by a skilled orator who is fully familiar with the appeal forum and the preferences and expectations of the appeal officers can still carry the day. National academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento knows the academic administrative appeal forum and is a highest-order orator. If, on the other hand, your school permits only the student to make the oral presentation, then attorney Lento can prepare, guide, support, and accompany you, or instead encourage you to rely on his team's powerful appeal brief.
After An Appeal
National academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento's services don't end with the appeal decision. In the happy event of a successful appeal, attorney Lento can help you confirm with school officials that they are taking the appropriate and necessary actions to remove any record of the overturned misconduct finding or discipline. Winning is one thing, while documenting the win and ensuring that everything reflects the win is another thing. Attorney Lento can help you ensure that the school does as it should rather than leave records or hints of wrongdoing that you did not commit and that the appeals process rejected. In the unhappy event of an appeal loss, attorney Lento may still be able to help you minimize the impact of negative findings and of discipline, while seeking other avenues for relief. If you had no help for your appeal and lost, or if you had ineffective help from someone other than attorney Lento and lost, then consider retaining attorney Lento to explore those other potential relief avenues.
Alternatives to Appeal
As just indicated, sometimes appeals fail, whether for lack of grounds, an untimely filing, an ineffective presentation, or an unsympathetic appeal officer or appeal panel. Without the premier representation of national academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento, an academic misconduct appeal can very much be an uphill battle. Any appeal presents challenges, when the decision below has already cast the die against you. When a student fails to take a timely appeal or otherwise loses an appeal, national academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento has helped students find other relief avenues. Those relief avenues have included working with a college or university ombudsman to address institutional issues that caused or contributed to the academic misconduct finding. An ombudsman may have limited authority but substantial influence that could turn into relief from a seemingly final finding and sanction. Attorney Lento has also helped students find relief through the college or university general counsel office. A general counsel is the institution's chief lawyer. Lawyers know how to deal with lawyers to address institutional issues unduly contributing to unfair academic misconduct findings and sanctions. Consider retaining attorney Lento for post-appeal relief.
Retain Premier Academic Appellate Representation
For all of the sound reasons explored and illustrated above, your best move when suffering academic misconduct findings and sanctions, and facing the necessity of an appeal, is to retain national academic appellate attorney Joseph Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm. For many years, attorney Lento has dedicated his nationwide practice to successfully defending college and university students against false, exaggerated, and unfair academic misconduct charges. He has done so because he cares about students and their futures.
Attorney Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm want students to have fair chances to achieve their educational and career goals. Fighting for those students and their futures is what gets attorney Lento up in the morning. Watch and listen to attorney Lento tell about his profound commitment to students here. You have not just an impassioned advocate but also a true winner in your corner when you retain attorney Lento. That's the attorney you need for academic appellate representation. Don't leave your future to less. Your future is worth more than the temporary obstacles of your present. You got to college or university because of your grit and tenacity. Rely on the same attributes when facing college academic misconduct charges. Retain the best. Retain attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm today by calling toll-free 888.535.3686 or going online to tell us about your case.