Student Defense - American University Washington School of Law

Founded over 120 years ago, American University Washington College of Law is a law school with a unique heritage and worldwide reputation. A place at the school of law is a precious thing you would not want to lose. If you face disciplinary proceedings at American University Washington School of Law, you will want to fight to protect your education.

Honor Code

Students of the American University Washington College of Law must adhere to the highest ethical standards of integrity, professional conduct, personal conduct, and academic honesty. All students must commit to the Washington School of Law honor code. Professionalism and ethics are an essential part of legal education and practice. Standards set out in the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct are incorporated in the Honor Code. This encourages the development of the professional and ethical values that law students and lawyers, as professionals, must possess.

The honor code's specific rules relating to academic integrity apply to:

  • Plagiarism
  • Improper conduct during examinations
  • Misrepresentation and misrepresentation of academic qualifications

The School of Law takes its honor code seriously. The dean of the law school or their designee appoints an Honor Code Prosecution Team each year. That team is charged with prosecuting violations of the Honor Code. If a student is suspected of a violation, Honor Code Prosecution Team will investigate and prosecute. If you fail to cooperate fully or promptly with this process, that could be a violation in itself, and you could face severe sanctions.

Sanctions for violating the School of Law can include the following:

  1. Admonition
  2. Warning
  3. Reprimand
  4. Restitution
  5. Probation
  6. Suspension
  7. Reduction or elimination of grade or credits
  8. Expulsion

One of the more damaging effects of a sanction can simply be the lasting record of it on your academic record. This can have long-term ramifications on any academic and legal aspirations, in some instances even making it impossible to practice law. However, the Honor Code Prosecution Team may, as part of a voluntary resolution, authorize the removal of a written notation after a set period of time.

Students are, of course, also bound to uphold as well as the school-wide American University Student Conduct Code and Academic Integrity Code and other school policies. These codes cover issues of academic dishonesty and outlines the school's procedural processes for disciplinary investigations, hearings, and appeals.

Disciplinary proceedings can, if handled wrongly, be catastrophic for your legal career. If you are found in violation of the Honor Code, you could face penalties from having grades reduced down, imperiling your grade point average whilst risking academic dismissal, or being thrown out of law school. Depending on the incident, the law school may report the incident to the Washington State Bar, who may later deny you admission to the Bar. As such, you must be proactive in defending yourself from reputational damage and any formal sanctions and notes in your permanent record.

Misconduct Disciplinary Procedures

If someone has reasonable grounds to believe you violated the honor code, or indeed any other academic offense, they must advise the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. From there, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs will refer on to the appropriate team, likely the Honor Code prosecution team.

The Prosecution Team will determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an Honor Code violation has occurred. If they don't find sufficient evidence that it has, the school won't keep a record of the accusation, so you do not need not report the investigation or referral to any bar examining authority.

If they do believe you have committed a violation, one of two things can happen. Either you can voluntarily agree on a sanction with the prosecution team ‘settling' the issue. Once approved by the dean, this settlement will be final and not subject to appeal.

If you do not settle, the Prosecution will present you with your Statement of Charges, and it will go to a hearing. An Honor Code Committee will be gathered, consisting of at least three full-time tenured faculty members and at least two student members. Formal hearing rules will apply.

The hearing committee will then rule on whether misconduct took place and impose sanctions. Students have the right to appeal this decision within strict time limits.

To have grounds for appeal, you need to argue there was a procedural irregularity, new evidence, a conflict of interest or bias, or excessive sanctions.

With stakes so high, it is of the utmost importance that you cooperate fully and promptly with the disciplinary process. An experienced attorney-advisor can help you navigate this process and put your best case forward.

Academic Dismissal

Meeting the demands of your workload at American University is challenging. Even for the most diligent students, life can get in the way. However, if you underperform for even a small part of your course, you risk academic dismissal.

Students who do not meet the minimum academic requirement of a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or better or are not on track to meet the required 120 credit hours may be academically dismissed or put on academic probation.

Probation, dismissal, and expulsion are all very different prospects. If on probation, you can still remain at the school for the time being. Expulsion gives you no prospect of return. Whereas if you are dismissed, you can appeal and later reapply for admission, if and only if you can make a strong case for yourself that external factors, such as health or a family situation, had previously prevented you from meeting the course's demands.

Your academic dean will make decisions about academic discipline. They have some discretion, alongside sanctions, to offer alternative solutions like the opportunity to repeat part of your course. This means it is crucial that you properly communicate any and all extenuating circumstances which the school should take into account. If you are going to safeguard your chance to practice law, you should take all legitimate routes to avoid dismissal.

Whether your defense is based on a grievance with the school or extenuating circumstances, you will want to navigate your school's disciplinary process with the best possible appeal.

Do You Need An Attorney-Advisor?

If you are facing disciplinary proceedings at law school or other processes which can affect your standing as a law student or your ability to practice law, securing an experienced attorney-advisor will offer you your best chance of success. Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience in law student discipline matters and has successfully helped countless law students address and resolve the unique challenges that can present themselves in law school. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today.

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.