Florida Coastal School of Law (Coastal Law or CL) has a turbulent recent history that exposed the law school to great scrutiny. While most law schools have high professional and academic standards, Coastal Law may be abnormally sensitive to perceived transgressions by its students.
Law school is costly and all-consuming. Being expelled, suspended, or sanctioned in any way by Coastal Law could strap you with massive debt while endangering your graduation and your ability to become an attorney. Whether you have committed a violation of the Coastal Law Honor Code or face unfounded allegations, defend your rights by hiring skilled attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento.
The Lento Law Firm specializes in law student issues nationwide. Do not fight for your future without their help.
The Coastal Law Honor Code
Section A of the Coastal Law Academic Honor Code plainly describes students' academic and professional expectations:
“The principles of honesty and personal responsibility are essential for the proper practice of law. The law school believes that those who intend to enter this profession cannot wait for graduation but must now begin to live by these principles. The Academic Honor Code (Honor Code or Code) shall be interpreted in accordance with these underlying fundamental purposes.”
Beyond this general guidance, the Coastal Law Honor Code lists specific violations that can jeopardize your future in law.
Prohibited Academic and Professional Conduct
Coastal Law considers the following acts to be violations of its Honor Code:
Coastal Law defines cheating as “Any act of fraud or deception by which the offender improperly gains or attempts to gain an unfair benefit or advantage from the school, its faculty, staff, fellow students, or other persons in connection with the school.”
CL considers “Appropriation of any other person's work, words, thoughts or ideas without acknowledgment in any work submitted in any academic pursuit or law school competition” to be plagiarism.
Repeated submission of the same work
You may not turn in work previously submitted in another course as an original submission in a Coastal Law course.
A common threat to integrity in today's academic landscape, electronic dishonesty, is the use of electronics “in a way that affects a class or other students' academic work.”
You may also face sanctions for offenses that are professional, rather than academic, in nature. Professional transgressions at the Florida Coastal School of Law include:
- Obstruction of justice
- Deception and misrepresentation
- False witness
- Misappropriation or damage to academic materials
- Failure to report
A mere allegation of wrongdoing can thrust you into the adjudication process.
Formal and Informal Consequences of Honor Code Violations
Should you face formal sanctions from Coastal Law, you may:
- Be expelled from Coastal Law
- Be suspended from Coastal Law
- Suffer revocation of a degree
- Be subject to academic probation
- Receive a reduced grade in a course
- Receive a formal reprimand
- Suffer additional sanctions
These and other academic sanctions may only be the start of your troubles. Any form of university-issued reprimand could:
- Jeopardize your graduation (from CL or any other law school)
- Diminish the value of your law degree
- Make it far more difficult to interview for jobs
- Compromise your future earning power and professional opportunities
- Ultimately prevent you from becoming a lawyer
Academic sanctions can have a true domino effect. Do not underestimate the importance of a strong defense.
Initial Disciplinary Procedures at Coastal Law
Section B of the Coastal Law Student Handbook explains that “A student is on notice of this [Honor] Code and its provisions by virtue of enrollment at the law school or in any of its programs.” In other words, ignorance of CL's academic and professional standards is not a defense for alleged wrongdoing.
Expect the following sequence if accused of misconduct at Coastal Law:
1) The Dean of Student Affairs will review the allegation against you
They will determine the veracity of the allegation, and either:
- Encourage the reporting party to file a formal referral, or:
- Inform the reporting party not to take further action (if the Dean believes there has been no violation of the Honor Code)
Assuming that you are the subject of a formal referral, then:
2) The Dean of Student Affairs may issue interim (i.e., temporary) sanctions, including suspension, restriction from attending classes, and restriction from school activities
To justify interim action, the Dean must prove that “serious academic misconduct occurred and that the continued presence of the student on the campus poses a threat to the academic integrity of the institution.” You may contest interim action within seven days of receiving notice and may be wise to hire an attorney to help.
Whether or not CL imposes interim sanctions against you, you will likely face a formal investigation and decision.
Investigations and Decisions Regarding Student Misconduct
If the Investigator of your case finds grounds to proceed, then they will:
- Investigate the allegation(s) against you by gathering evidence and conducting interviews
- Determine the veracity of the allegation(s) against you
If the Investigator believes that you violated the CL Honor Code, then the referral against you will become a formal accusation. Whereas some law schools rely on committees to adjudicate cases of alleged wrongdoing, Coastal Law gives the Investigator broad oversight.
Upon issuing a formal accusation, the Investigator will notify you of the alleged misconduct, request any additional information that they require, and deliver the date and time of your meeting with the Investigator.
During your meeting with the CL case Investigator, you may:
- Hear, in detail, the allegations against you
- Have a “reasonable opportunity to respond” to the allegations
- Put forth witnesses to testify on your behalf (but may not question the witnesses)
The Investigator must find “clear and convincing evidence” that you violated the Coastal Law Honor Code before issuing a ruling against you. Following your meeting, you will receive a written decision, including any sanctions issued against you, from the Investigator.
Your Right to Appeal the Investigator's Decision
You may appeal the Investigator's ruling against you based on new evidence, prejudicial proceedings, and disproportionately punitive sanctions. The appropriate Dean may assign a three-person Review Committee (including the Dean themselves) to consider your appeal.
The decision of the Review Committee is final. You must take full advantage of these proceedings because you only have two opportunities to defend yourself (the Investigator's meeting and an appeal).
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento Can Help You
The CL Academic Honor Code explains that “The student may be assisted by an advisor of their own choice” during disciplinary proceedings. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento has defended hundreds of law students across the United States, gaining invaluable experience that he will apply to your case.
The Lento Law Firm will prepare you for upcoming meetings and exercise your right to due process. Allow a skilled attorney to have your back. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your unique circumstances. You may also contact the Lento Law Firm online.