Student Defense: LSU Law Center

Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, also known as LSU Law, is a public law school established in 1906. LSU Law is a part of Louisiana State University and one of the only two law schools in the Western Hemisphere that offer the J.D. and DCL degrees. The reason is that Louisiana is a civil law state, different from the 49 common law states in the country.

LSU Law has an impressive list of notable alumni who hold multiple solid legal positions in the state. With its clinical programs, Bar Exam success rate, and comprehensive curriculum, students have many career opportunities upon graduation. However, they must commit themselves to strong ethical principles and maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. Those accused of academic misconduct may face sanctions that delay their graduation – and in some cases, cause them to forgo their dreams of becoming attorneys.

Principles of Civility and Code of Professional Responsibility

Maintaining a level playing field that guarantees fairness for students is high on the list of priorities at LSU Law. As a result, the administration expects students to abide by its official Principles of Civility and its Code of Student Professional Responsibility.

The principles emphasize core values of professionalism, including integrity, trust, civility, courtesy, and accountability. As for the latter, it provides the standards by which students must conduct themselves. The first part of the code centers on misconduct violations. These include:

  • Lying: Any action that involves falsification or misrepresentation falls under “lying.” Examples include deliberately inputting false data in forms or misrepresenting information about oneself to faculty and administrative members.
  • Cheating: Many actions fall under this umbrella, including collaboration with peers. This violation includes any activities that allow students to gain an unfair advantage over their peers. Examples include having knowledge of test answers before an exam or using unauthorized materials to solve an academic exercise.
  • Plagiarism: Law students must not falsely claim that another person's work is their own. A student may also plagiarize by failing to cite an author or paraphrasing someone else's idea. However, other actions unique to LSU Law also fall under this category, such as violating copyright.
  • Theft: In this case, theft may include taking unauthorized material from the library or using material off-campus explicitly meant for campus use.
  • General Misconduct: The code provides a comprehensive list of actions that constitute misconduct, as this segment has broad definitions. Examples include compromising academic integrity by using another student's work for extra credit. Others involve violating rules established by professors, assisting others, or receiving assistance on a solo academic exercise.

Anyone with firsthand knowledge that a law student is violating these principles must report the issue to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the Law Center (ADAA). The report cannot be anonymous. The ADAA reviews the report's details and may ask the student to meet to discuss the matter. If the ADAA believes no probable cause exists, they dismiss the case. If the Associate Dean determines that the issue requires further review, they may recommend a disciplinary hearing.

Disciplinary Hearing and Appeals

The Hearing Committee at LSU Law includes three law student members and two faculty members, appointed by the Chair of the Student Ethics Committee. After hearing the statement of the charges, examining evidence, and hearing witnesses, the committee allows the student to make a closing statement. The accused may have other persons present but must clear the matter with the council before the hearing starts.

Based on the evidence and a majority vote, the committee deliberates and delivers their findings and sanctions recommendations to the Law Dean. Additionally, the council may grant a continuance if there is a good cause.

Unlike other law schools, LSU Law allows students to respond in writing to the council's findings before the imposition of sanctions by the Law Dean. Since the process differs and students have the right to respond before the sanctions apply, there is no formal appeals process once found guilty.

Possible Sanctions for Code Violations

The committee may recommend one or more sanctions for violating the code of conduct, depending on the nature of the violation. Although the list is not as extensive as other law schools, the sanctions are severe and may cause issues for the student down the line. These sanctions include:

  • Denial of course credit or receiving a low grade on a course if the matter relates to the student's conduct
  • A public reprimand by the Law Dean, who sends the Louisiana State Bar Association a copy of the reprimand.
  • Temporary dismissal from the Law Center
  • Expulsion from the law school with an opportunity for readmission after a fixed date established by the Dean
  • Indefinite expulsion from the Law School with no date for readmission

Although a grade reduction or denial of course credit may not be detrimental to a student's graduation prospects, the other sanctions are more damaging. With a suspension or expulsion, students must delay launching their careers. In worst-case scenarios, they may have trouble applying to other law schools as admission officers would rather accept students with unblemished records.

Students who study law spend years, time, and money pursuing their dream. An expulsion or suspension from LSU law due to academic misconduct or violating principles of academic integrity undermines those efforts. It may cause students to start from square one.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

Every student makes mistakes. While some are lapses in judgment, others have severe consequences that can become a nightmare for law students. If you need help, it's best to work with a professional who specializes in student defense.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento has years of experience working with students accused of academic misconduct nationwide. With his passion for justice and talent negotiating with committees and administrators alike, attorney-advisor Lento works hard for the best possible outcome in your case.

Regardless of the allegations, you have the right to fight for your reputation. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a discreet and thorough consultation 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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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