Student Defense – Appalachian School of Law

Students at Appalachian School of Law (ASL) must follow high standards of ethical conduct as they prepare to become lawyers. The legal profession demands honesty and integrity, and students who do not exhibit these values during law school may not be trusted to do so as lawyers. For this reason, ASL holds all students accountable for their behavior and works to instill the values of honesty and integrity in all its law students.

Students who do not behave according to ASL's standards may face disciplinary action. If a student has a notation of academic misconduct on their law school record, it could be difficult to gain employment or go after clerkships. Students may also struggle to pass the character and fitness evaluation with the state bar association.

If you have been accused of academic misconduct by ASL, your future as a lawyer could be at risk. Consider contacting a specialized student defense attorney-advisor for assistance.

Student Misconduct at ASL

At ASL, students must follow a Code of Academic Integrity, which is found in the Student Handbook. Students are also responsible for following the Code of Student Conduct and Community Standards at Appalachian School of Law as well. The Code of Academic Integrity lists what constitutes a violation of the code and provides processes and procedures for dealing with suspected violations.

Examples of Prohibited Behavior at ASL

The Code of Academic Integrity provides examples of behavior considered violations, although the list is not exhaustive:

  • Use of unauthorized resources or assistance on academic work
  • Failing to properly quote or cite sources
  • Collaboration on an assignment when not permitted by the instructor
  • Capturing, recording, duplicating, or recreating questions from old or sample exams provided to students for study purposes
  • Using unauthorized resources during an exam
  • Sharing or acquiring information about the contents of any exam
  • Stealing, destroying, or defacing any library materials
  • Any activity or conduct intended to create an unfair competitive advantage over other students
  • Unprofessional methods of disagreement such as yelling and name-calling
  • Submitting one paper for two or more courses or seminars
  • Not keeping a Student Grading Number, which instructors use to anonymously score exams, confidential
  • Unauthorized sharing of online or other digital content or access information
  • Not reporting a suspected violation of the Code of Academic Integrity
  • Retaliating against students who participate in upholding the Code of Academic Integrity

Disciplinary Procedures for Academic Misconduct at ASL

The process for dealing with suspected misconduct violations has five parts: Reporting, informal resolution, review by the Associate Dean, review by a faculty committee, and appeals.

Reporting

The process starts when the Associate Dean of Students hears a complaint about misconduct regarding an ASL student. The Associate Dean may then meet with the person alleging a violation to get all the relevant information.

Informal Resolution

The Associate Dean then meets with the accused student and gives them a chance to admit to the allegation or discuss the matter before giving a written statement. If the student and Associate Dean come to an agreement, the Associate Dean can then impose appropriate sanctions. If there's no agreement, the Associate Dean asks the accusing party for a formal, written allegation. The Associate Dean then decides if the matter moves to review and investigation by the Associate Dean or review and investigation by a faculty committee.

Review and Investigation by the Associate Dean

In this method, the Associate Dean conducts an investigation into the allegation. During this stage, there is no hearing or opportunity for the accused student to cross-examine evidence or witnesses. At the end of the investigation, the Associate Dean makes a decision and issues a written statement. Five days after receiving the Associate Dean's decision, the charged student may either accept the finding and request an alternative sanction or appeal the finding and the sanction.

Review and Investigation by a Faculty Committee

If a student appeals the Associate Dean's findings, sanctions, or both, the case moves to a review and investigation by a faculty committee. The committee consists of three full-time or part-time faculty members of ASL. The committee has broad discretion in investigating the allegations, but the accused student will have an opportunity to present an oral or written statement to the committee.

Once the committee's investigation is over, it will make a decision by majority vote (although unanimity is preferred). The committee sends a report containing their findings and recommended sanctions to the Associate Dean. The Associate Dean reviews the report, discusses the matter with the involved faculty member, and issues a written decision.

Appeals

Students can appeal the Associate Dean's decision following a faculty committee report within five days. The Dean of Students reviews the request for an appeal if they decide to grant it, sets a date for an appeal hearing. At the hearing, the accused student may bring an outside representative. The Dean of Student's decision after the hearing is final.

Potential Sanctions

Students found guilty of violating the Code of Academic Integrity may face one of the following sanctions:

  • Suspension from ASL for one academic year
  • Letter of censure
  • Loss of “good standing”
  • Requirements for additional coursework or credits
  • Instructor-recommended sanctions
  • Probationary period
  • Other appropriate sanctions

The standard sanction for a violation of the Code of Academic Integrity is expulsion from ASL, however. The President and Dean of ASL must agree to an expulsion before it can take place.

How Can a Student Attorney-Advisor Help?

If you are accused of a Code of Academic Integrity violation at ASL, there's a lot at stake. You may feel overwhelmed by the formality of the disciplinary process, but an experienced student defense legal advisor can help. They can assist you with preparing statements for the Associate Dean or faculty committee and even represent you at an appeal hearing. Ultimately, an experienced attorney-advisor will help you work towards a fair process and the best possible outcome.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of law students nationwide with academic misconduct issues. If you want to protect your future as a lawyer, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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