Student Defense - George Washington University Law School

The George Washington University Law School does more than train its students to practice law. GW Law seeks to instill important values in its students that are fundamental to the legal profession. Among these values are academic integrity, fairness, honesty, and freedom of expression. Both George Washington University and the Law School expect students to uphold academic, professional, and personal conduct standards that are befitting lawyers and representatives of George Washington University.

It is crucial, therefore, for students to know, understand, and follow both the University's and GW Law's student conduct policies. Failure to do so will result in sanctions, which range from a formal reprimand to expulsion from the institution. As a law student, a misconduct determination has much wider implications than your institution's sanctions. You may not be admitted to the state bar, you may have difficulties finding a clerkship or professional opportunities in the legal profession, and you may put your entire career as a lawyer in jeopardy.

When you're facing a misconduct accusation as a law student, you need an experienced attorney-advisor to look out for your interests.

Law Student Misconduct at George Washington University Law School

GW Law has an Academic Integrity Code that is meant to help students, faculty, and staff foster an environment based on academic excellence, integrity, and honesty. The GW Law Academic Integrity Code applies to the following groups of people:

  • Current law students
  • Students taking classes from other divisions of George Washington University for law degree credit
  • Alumni if allegations relate to the period the individual was a student
  • Individuals who have been admitted to the Law School but haven't yet started classes

Examples of Academic Dishonesty at GW Law

  • Cheating: Cheating could include obtaining authorized materials, unauthorized collaboration, copying someone else's examination, presenting someone else's material as your own work, obtaining the contents of an examination before the exam, or failing to comply with rules or instructions set by the Law School or its instructors concerning academic work.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism is intentionally representing the work of someone else as your own.
  • Unauthorized multiple submissions: Using the same work to satisfy requirements for more than one course without the instructor's permission is prohibited, and a form of self-plagiarism.
  • Forgery or falsification: Intentionally making false statements or fabricating information related to academic work or your affiliation with the Law School is a form of academic dishonesty.
  • Intentionally stealing, destroying, or impeding the work of others: Disrupting the academic work or records of other students to give yourself an advantage is academic dishonesty.

The code lists several examples of academic dishonesty, but this list is by no means exhaustive. In addition to this GW Law policy regarding academic integrity, the Law School also adheres to George Washington University’s Code of Student Conduct, overseen by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This policy goes beyond student academic conduct, covering forms of professional and personal misconduct as well.

Examples of Professional and Personal Misconduct at George Washington University and GW Law

  • Alcohol and drug violations
  • Title IX violations and sexual harassment
  • Discrimination (including discriminatory harassment and creating a hostile environment)
  • Non-academic dishonesty
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Community disturbance
  • Hazing
  • Interfering with university events
  • Violation of sanctions, safety measures, or regulations
  • Weapon violations

Although law students are enrolled in the Law School, they are still part of George Washington University and must adhere to the University's policies as well as the Law School's policies.

How GW Law School Handles Academic Misconduct

Violations of the academic integrity code proceed in four steps—reporting, investigation, hearing, and appeal.

  1. Reporting
    Any member of the GW Law community has the responsibility to report known violations of the academic integrity code to either the Office of the Dean of Students or the Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee.
  2. Investigation
    The Office of the Dean or the Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee may start an investigation into the report of academic dishonesty. If the initial, informal investigation doesn't resolve the issue, either the Dean or Committee Chair may start a full investigation. They will report the results to the voting members of the Committee. The Committee can vote on whether the student committed academic dishonesty or not and impose sanctions.
  3. Hearing
    If the accused student does not believe the charge is warranted, they can ask for a hearing. The panel for the hearing is a separate group from the Committee, but some Committee members may be on it. Students may have an advisor present with them during the hearing. After the panel has heard the facts and witnesses, they will come to a determination and, if guilty, impose sanctions.
  4. Appeal
    If the student disagrees with the hearing panel's decision, they can appeal to the University's Provost. The student must send a formal letter of appeal within 10 days of the panel's issuance of a determination.

Potential Sanctions for Academic Misconduct at GW Law

In the academic misconduct process at GW Law, either the Academic Integrity Committee or the hearing panel may impose an appropriate sanction on a law student.

Examples of Sanctions for Academic Misconduct at GW Law

  • Expulsion
  • Suspension
  • Recommendation to the University to revoke a degree
  • A failing grade or no credit
  • A rejection of the work in question until the student completes it again
  • Loss of scholarships, academic prizes, and honors
  • Permanent letter of reprimand to go in the student's academic file
  • Denial of positive character and fitness reference for state bar admission
  • A permanent academic dishonesty notation on transcripts

How a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help

The potential repercussions of an academic dishonesty determination are severe. To avoid putting your future at risk, consider consulting a student defense legal advisor to help you defend yourself during an academic misconduct procedure.

Joseph D. Lento is an experienced student defense attorney-advisor who has helped thousands of graduate and undergraduate students with misconduct cases. Law students facing a misconduct violation and fearing for their future have additional concerns regrettably, but attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Call Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn more.

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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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