Student Defense – Michigan State University College of Law

As a community of scholars, Michigan State University values the basic principles of advancement, dissemination, and application of knowledge. The College of Law at Michigan State also incorporates these principles in its policies and guidelines and subjects law students to standards of conduct they must uphold as members of the legal profession.

Students who do not hold themselves to high standards of honesty and integrity will face disciplinary action at Michigan State College of Law. The College of Law can impose sanctions and report matters of misconduct to a character and fitness committee for a state bar. Law students with a misconduct notation on their academic record may also struggle to gain clerkships or employment.

If you are dealing with an academic misconduct issue at Michigan State College of Law, consider contacting a specialized student defense attorney-advisor.

Student Misconduct at Michigan State

Michigan State College of Law has three key documents that govern law student academic and professional behavior. These documents are:

These policies prohibit certain behaviors and prescribe procedures for dealing with allegations of student misconduct. Most cases proceed under the Code of Student Discipline; however, an Academic Hearing Board may have jurisdiction instead in some matters. Students can request an Academic Hearing Board in certain situations as well.

The College of Law at Michigan State also has a Plagiarism Policy. Instances of plagiarism fall under the procedures and penalties set forth in the Code of Student Discipline.

Examples of Misconduct

The Code of Student Discipline lists potential violations that could be subject to discipline:

  • Any conversation with another student during an exam
  • Possessing prohibited material during an exam
  • Perusing another student's exam answer
  • Disseminating any exam materials with another person who has not yet taken the exam
  • Use of another person's writings without proper attribution
  • Acts that significantly disrupt the functioning of the College of Law or any class
  • Acts of deceit, dishonesty, or misrepresentation that call into question the character and fitness to practice law

How Does Michigan State College of Law Handle Misconduct?

Any student, staff, or faculty member of the College of Law can assert a violation of the Code of Student Discipline to the Dean of the Law College. If a student faces an allegation of impropriety under the Code of Student Misconduct, the Dean will investigate for probable cause. The Dean may either dismiss the matter for lack of probable cause or meet with the accused student to determine a sanction if there is probable cause. If the student does not accept the sanction, the matter moves to a hearing.

If a student faces an allegation of academic misconduct (academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, or falsifying admission and academic records), they may ask for an Academic Hearing rather than a hearing under the Code of Student Discipline.


In a hearing under the Code of Student Discipline, both the College of Law and the accused student may have representation to present their case. Both can provide a list of witnesses to call and evidence to introduce and cross-examine witnesses. At the end of the hearing, the hearing panel, made up of three faculty members, deliberates privately to reach a decision. If the panel finds a violation proven, it will also impose a sanction.

Under the Michigan State College of Law Academic Hearing Procedures, a hearing board consists of three students and three faculty members. There are two types of academic hearings possible:

  1. Grievance hearings: Initiated by students who are dissatisfied with their attempts to informally resolve allegations of a violation of student academic rights or academic misconduct
  2. Disciplinary hearings: Initiated by instructors who wish to impose another penalty for academic misconduct other than a grade penalty

Students can also request a grievance hearing prior to a disciplinary hearing if accused of academic misconduct. At grievance proceedings, accused students have the burden of proof. At disciplinary hearings, the Hearing Board only determines if sanctions other than a grade penalty are warranted, not if the violation occurred. In both types of hearings, both parties have the right to call witnesses, offer rebuttals, and provide closing statements. Both parties may also have advisors present with them at hearings. If the results of a disciplinary hearing find a student has committed an academic misconduct violation warranting a sanction other than a grade penalty, the Hearing Board will decide on a sanction.


Decisions of a Hearing Panel under the Code of Student Discipline are final; there is no opportunity for appeal.

Both parties involved may appeal the decision of an academic hearing if the case involved academic grievances alleging violations of student rights and regulations involving academic misconduct. The appealing party must send their appeal, in writing, to the Chair of the University Graduate Judiciary within five class days following the College of Law decision. Either party can also request the Hearing Board to reconsider a case if new evidence arises within 30 days of receipt of the hearing outcome.

Consulting a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor

What can a student defense legal advisor do for you if you're facing an allegation of misconduct at Michigan State College of Law? An experienced specialist who's dealt with universities and institutions of higher learning can tell you what to expect during the investigation and at your hearing, in addition to helping you prepare the best possible defense. An attorney-advisor can assist with gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, and even represent you in a Code of Student Discipline hearing.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of law students across the country with misconduct matters and other school-related issues. He can help you protect your future as a lawyer. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to get started.

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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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