Northeastern University is committed to fostering a community based on intellectual honesty and integrity. The promotion of independent and original scholarship is fundamental to the university's educational experience. The Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL) also adheres to these principles and expects all law students to conduct themselves accordingly. The legal profession requires transparency and moral fortitude, and lawyers in training must demonstrate that they possess these qualities before they can practice law. For this reason, NUSL requires all students to follow academic integrity and student conduct policies.
Law students at NUSL who do not display integrity and professionalism or who disrespect other members of the law school community may face harsh penalties. In addition to University-imposed sanctions, law students may have trouble obtaining employment with a notation of academic or professional misconduct on their record. In addition to passing the bar exam, law graduates must undergo a character and fitness evaluation with the bar association. Academic or professional misconduct during law school can prevent law graduates from passing this evaluation. It may also be impossible for NUSL to vouch for a graduate's character to the bar association if there is an academic misconduct determination on their record.
If you are a NUSL law student who has been accused of an academic integrity or conduct code violation, consider speaking with a student defense attorney-advisor as soon as possible to protect your future legal career.
Student Misconduct at NUSL
NUSL does not have its own conduct policies, so law students must follow the relevant Northeastern University rules. All students must adhere to the University Academic Integrity Policy and University Code of Student Conduct. The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) oversees these policies and handles all suspected violations. The Code of Student Conduct applies to all students, both on- and off-campus.
Examples of an academic integrity violation at NUSL
The University Academic Integrity Policy at Northeastern lists several examples of what constitutes an academic integrity violation:
- Inventing data, facts, or sources for an academic assignment
- Citing a source that was not used
- Copying from another student's academic work
- Unauthorized communication during an examination
- Intentionally viewing a test before it is administered
- Storing notes in a portable electronic device for use during an examination
- Unauthorized collaboration
- Purchasing a pre-written paper
- Misrepresenting oneself or one's circumstances to an instructor
- Forging information or signatures on official University documents
- Doing academic work for another student
Anyone can submit a report of suspected academic dishonesty, not just instructors. Students who witness potential violations of the University Academic Integrity Policy have a responsibility to report it to the OSCCR.
Disciplinary Procedures for Academic Misconduct at NUSL
When the OSCCR receives a report of a conduct violation, the office reviews it to determine how to move forward. If it's possible the alleged violation occurred, it will either go to an Administrative Hearing or a Student Conduct Board.
Cases go to an Administrative Hearing when the possible sanctions are a written warning, disciplinary probation, or deferred suspension. The Hearing is a one-on-one meeting between the accused student and the Hearing Administrator. Students may not have third parties present with them at Administrative Hearings, except for a university-appointed Hearing Advisor. During the Hearing, students present their account of the event and may provide written documentation and witness statements as well. The Hearing Administrator will determine if there was a violation and, if so, impose sanctions.
Student Conduct Board
Cases go to a Student Conduct Board when the possible sanctions are suspension or expulsion. Before the Student Conduct Board hearing takes place, students must attend a pre-hearing administrative meeting, where they can either accept responsibility for the violation or contest it. At the Student Conduct Board hearing, attorneys are not allowed unless students have express permission from the OSCCR. Students can present evidence and call witnesses at the Student Conduct Board hearing. The Board will make a determination on the case, choose sanctions, and notify the student via a decision letter.
If students would like to appeal the Student Conduct Board's decision, they must submit an electronic Appeal Request Form within five days of receiving the decision letter. The Appeals Board can either concur with the original decision, send the case to a new hearing body for a re-trial, refer the case back to the original hearing body if new information has come to light, or mitigate the sanction. The Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will approve the decision of the Appeals Board as a final determination in the case.
At Northeastern University and NUSL, the administration can impose inactive and active sanctions.
Inactive sanctions (don't require action from students)
- Deferred suspension
- Disciplinary probation
- Letter of warning
- Separation of the student from University residence facilities
Active sanctions (require action from students)
- Loss of membership in extracurricular activities
- Loss of ability to hold elected positions in student organizations
- Loss of access to University facilities
- Mandated service
- Loss of guest privileges on campus
- Submittal of letter of apology to the affected party
- Counseling evaluation
- Educational sanction such as attending a program or writing a paper
A Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Although NUSL students cannot have outside advisors present with them during university disciplinary procedures, an attorney-advisor specialized in student defense can still improve the chances of a fair process and favorable outcome in an academic misconduct case. Your legal advisor can help you gather evidence, identify witnesses, and prepare your statements for your hearing. If you have little or no experience dealing with formal disciplinary processes at universities, you could easily feel overwhelmed. Regardless, too much is at stake to not address a law school disciplinary process as best as possible.
That's how we can help - Joseph D. Lento is an attorney-advisor who has assisted hundreds of law students with their academic misconduct cases across the nation. If you are concerned about your future as a lawyer over your misconduct accusation, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.