Student Defense: Inter-American University School of Law

The Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Law is a private co-educational law school established in 1961 and located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The School of Law has American Bar Association accreditation and offers the Juris Doctor degree. Despite its small size, the law school strives to provide each student with an enriching experience by hiring quality faculty members and offering robust programs. Moreover, the school's Legal Aid Clinical Program helps students learn skills they'll need later in life, such as counseling, fact-gathering, and preparing for trials.

Although the law school does not have an exhaustive policy on academic misconduct violations, ethical behavior is a must for students to remain enrolled. Violations of the code of conduct and student handbook can lead to multiple negative issues, such as temporary or permanent dismissal. Since there aren't many law schools on the island, it can be challenging for students to find placement in another institution if they commit academic dishonesty. Without the help of a professional who understands what's at stake, students may face obstacles such as graduation delays – or not graduating entirely due to a mistake or lapse in judgment.

Code of Conduct

The Law School at Inter American does not have a code of conduct. However, all students in each division must abide by the university's general code of conduct. It mentions that all students at the university who will work in professions that require licenses, including law, must abide not only by the code but by the professional ethics of their career.

The code of conduct contains information regarding what constitutes a violation. Still, there are few specific examples of actions that compromise academic integrity. However, these actions remain constant in most educational spaces regardless of whether they're alluded to or explicit. They include:

  • Cheating: Any action that gives one student an advantage over their peers in law school is a form of cheating. Examples include using electronic devices during a test, taking and distributing notes from an exam, or collaborating with others to commit unauthorized actions.
  • Plagiarism: When a law student plagiarizes from a source, they include the information, ideas, theories, or work of others in their academic exercises but try to pass it off as their work. In other cases, students may paraphrase an idea and not give credit to the original author.
  • Deception: Students may not engage in any activity with the deliberate intent to deceive others, such as fellow peers and administrators. Examples include lying about a former place of work or overstating a person's qualifications to perform a particular activity.
  • Unauthorized Possession: Students may not use prohibited materials in class or during an examination. Possessing objects such as a cheat sheet, notebook, laptop, or smartphone during a test or quiz will get students in trouble.
  • Falsification: Some students falsify documents, transcripts, grade reports, and other official documents to gain unauthorized entry into a university. The discovery of such materials may lead to expulsion, especially if a student tampers with records.
  • Facilitation: Law students must avoid performing actions that go against the law school's principles and refrain from encouraging others to do the same. Students must not facilitate academic dishonesty with peers. Otherwise, all parties involved will face sanctions.

Given that the School of Law doesn't list these infarctions explicitly, it is up to faculty members and students to determine what actions constitute violations. Generally speaking, the above activities are most likely to cause issues for students. They may face harsh penalties, even if the act was a genuine mistake.

Reporting a Compliance Issue

The Intra-American University established a Compliance Program to handle all cases of violations. The program uses a combination of guidance, training sessions, and monitoring to ensure students behave ethically. Any member of the university who witnesses a possible code violation must report the matter to the Chief Compliance Officer. Additionally, students who are not comfortable saying an issue directly to the CCO may call the school's compliance hotline at (787) 728–6753 to remain anonymous.

The code is vague regarding what happens when the compliance officer receives a complaint. However, it mentions that the case requires a thorough investigation before taking action. Neither the student catalog nor the code list hearing processes for academic misconduct violations. The compliance officer may deal with each breach depending on its severity and the number of times the incident happened.

Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

Due to the limited information in the code for the penalties for a violation, the sanctions for academic misconduct listed below include those imposed by other law schools. They include:

  • A written or verbal warning
  • Lowering of a grade
  • Receiving a failing grade
  • Revoking privileges enjoyed by the student
  • Revoking a scholarship
  • Temporary dismissal
  • Permanent dismissal

Every case is different, and there are limitations to what information is available for students once a misconduct violation happens. Due to this uncertainty, students need the help of a professional to understand how to navigate an accusation.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

When you are unsure of the following steps, and your degree is on the line, simply letting your law school take matters into its own hands is risky. In cases like these, you need a professional who knows the stakes and the processes of panels and committees investigating academic misconduct complaints.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento has years of experience working with students across the United States who face allegations of academic misconduct. Attorney-Advisor Lento specializes in student discipline defense, helping students through one of the most stressful times in their lives.

You worked hard to get your law degree and spent countless hours striving towards your degree. Don't let a vague process, misunderstanding, or accusation ruin your chances of graduating. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for a thorough and discreet review of your case.