Student Defense: CUNY School of Law

The City University of New York School of Law (CUNY School of Law) is a high-caliber public law school established in 1983. It is one of the nation's highest-ranked public interest law schools, with a renowned clinical education program. As a part of its diverse and vibrant community, students have a wealth of career opportunities in the legal field upon graduation – but only if they maintain the highest standards of academic integrity.

CUNY maintains high standards for all of its colleges to establish a fair playing field for its community. If students commit egregious infractions or multiple violations, they face academic and disciplinary sanctions that include suspension and expulsion. However, students may also make mistakes, not knowing that their actions go against the CUNY policy. Without the help of an attorney-advisor, students may receive disproportionately harsh sanctions that affect their educational future and careers.

Academic Integrity Policy

The CUNY School of Law implements the procedures outlined in the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity. Within the policy is an overview of what constitutes academic dishonesty, reporting procedures, and processes for the imposition of sanctions and appeals. The actions that constitute academic misconduct include:

  • Cheating: According to the policy, this action occurs when a student uses unauthorized means or prohibited materials to gain an academic advantage. Examples of cheating include copying from others and vice versa, submitting previously completed work for a new academic exercise, and taking an exam for another student.
  • Plagiarism: When students plagiarize, they use another person's work, theories, ideas, information, or data without giving them credit. Plagiarism also involves paraphrasing another person's work without providing citations.
  • Obtaining an Unfair Advantage: Students gaining an unfair advantage over their peers is a form of academic misconduct. Examples include intentionally obstructing another student's work, circulating information from exam materials, and depriving others of access to CUNY resources.
  • Falsification: Falsifying data or records is a severe offense at the CUNY School of Law. It may lead to suspension or expulsion. Examples of this action include forging signatures, authorizations, information on a transcript or record, and falsifying official documents.

CUNY faculty try to minimize violations by providing students with packets that include the academic integrity policy and subscribing to electronic plagiarism detection software. If a faculty member or student suspects a violation, they must report it to the Academic Integrity Officer. After reviewing the report, the Academic Integrity Officer decides whether to implement academic or disciplinary sanctions.

Procedures for Academic and Disciplinary Sanctions

CUNY School of Law implements academic sanctions for students who commit minor or first-time violations. Before making the determination, the Academic Integrity Officer may consult with student affairs or academic affairs administrators to discuss the student's academic integrity files. Any previous infarctions, including those from other CUNY colleges, jeopardize a current law student's chances of receiving less-harsh sanctions.

Disciplinary sanctions are more severe than academic ones, and the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee oversees them. They only occur if the student commits an egregious act, withdraws from the course before implementing academic sanctions, or commits multiple violations. If students deny committing a breach, they must stand before the Academic Integrity Committee. During the hearing, students may present evidence, witness statements, and defend themselves before the committee.

Appeals Process

Students may appeal the hearing decision made by the disciplinary committee under three conditions. The student must prove the occurrence of a procedural error, provide new evidence that may change the outcome of the case, or argue that the punishment is disproportionate to the action. Students may appeal in writing within 15 days of receiving the committee's initial decision. The President of the School of Law reviews the appeal and makes a final decision regarding the case.

Sanctions for Academic Integrity Violations

If the student receives academic sanctions, they may receive a lower grade, retake a test, or redo an academic exercise. Students may also fail their exam, receive an overall grade deduction, or fail the course for the semester. As for disciplinary sanctions, they include:

  • Suspension from the CUNY campus temporarily
  • Permanent dismissal from the university with no possibility for re-enrollment
  • Have an expulsion or suspension charge mentioned on their transcript

The extensive process outlined by CUNY may hamper or hinder a student's chances of receiving a favorable case outcome. With so much at stake and the potential to lose one's chances of becoming an attorney, law students must do more than attend a hearing and wish for the best. These processes are stressful and get the best of even the most composed student. Without a plan and concrete help, students risk losing all of their time, money, and effort due to a mistake or judgment error. However, there are always methods to fight back, which may even include negotiation with administrators. Having the help of an experienced attorney-advisor goes a long way, especially when the case is complex.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento has years of experience working with law students facing sanctions for academic misconduct.

Attorney-Advisor Lento specializes in this field, giving students and their worried families a chance to focus, regroup, and make a plan for the best possible outcome. Attorney Lento recognizes when negative factors come into play and get in the way of justice. Some examples include administrator bias, baseless allegations, witnesses with a motive, and procedural errors. Regardless of the case details and the gravity of the infarction, law students have a right to fight back against a decision that can change their lives and impact it adversely.

Suspension and expulsion charges don't just end at the law school level – they stay on a student's transcript. They may become barriers to finding a good job, even if the student refuses to disclose the information. Additionally, academic misconduct can affect a law student's ability to pass the character and fitness portion of the bar exam, and the board of bar examiners will learn of a law student's missteps because they are reported by law school to the bar.

Too much is at stake to not have professional help from as early as possible in the law school disciplinary process. If you or someone that you care about faces allegations of academic misconduct at CUNY School of Law, don't wait until the appeals process to take necessary action. Contact the Lento Law Firm now for a discreet and transparent consultation at 888-535-3686.