Student Defense - Northern Illinois University College of Law

At Northern Illinois University (NIU) College of Law, students are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards. There are rules of conduct that govern student behavior, and the College of Law expects all law students to know and follow these rules, as well as help uphold them.

Students who fail to act ethically or with honesty and integrity during their time at NIU College of Law will face the consequences. The repercussions can range from having to redo an assignment to degree revocation. Law students that have a misconduct notation on their transcript may also find it difficult to pass the character and fitness exam for the bar.

If you are a student at NIU College of Law and have been accused of breaking the school's codes of conduct, you should consider contacting education attorney Joseph D. Lento for help.

Student Conduct at NIU College of Law

At NIU College of Law, students can find information about academic and professional misconduct in the Student Handbook, Section II. The Handbook explicitly states that students are held to the ethical standards listed in the following policies and documents:

  • NIU College of Law Rule of Professional Conduct and Interpretive Comment (which is also contained within the Student Handbook)
  • Requirements from the American Bar Association and applicable state bar associations
  • Disclosure obligations to the NIU College of Law
  • Northern Illinois University Code of Student Conduct

Examples of Academic and Professional Misconduct

The NIU College of Law Rule of Professional Conduct and Interpretive Comment provides details about which behaviors by students are considered misconduct and may be put through the disciplinary process:

  • Plagiarism
  • Unauthorized collaboration
  • Using unauthorized material in connection with any paper or exam
  • Misusing library resources or computerized research facilities
  • Providing copies of one's work to another student
  • Discussing an assignment with another student (if the instructor has not allowed it)
  • Copying portions of another student's work and presenting it as one's own
  • Copying cases and other citations from online sources
  • Using an unauthorized source for ideas and structure of an appellate brief
  • Using exam answers found online without authorization
  • Lying to a dean during an investigation of alleged misconduct
  • Recording a class without the professor's permission

Law students at NIU also have a continuing obligation to disclose information to the College of Law. This information is related to previous misconduct in an academic setting or employment, previous criminal activity, and discharge from the armed forces.

NIU College of Law Procedures for Allegations of Student Misconduct

The NIU College of Law's procedures for academic or professional misconduct goes through three phases:

  1. Reporting and review by the Associate Dean
  2. Decision by the Dean
  3. Hearing

Reporting and Review by the Associate Dean

Any member of the College of Law can report a suspected misconduct violation to the faculty member teaching the course or supervising the activity related to the misconduct or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Faculty members who receive these complaints can either dismiss the matter or further them to the Associate Dean if they believe there are reasonable grounds that the student committed academic or professional misconduct.

The person who reported the suspected violation must then submit a formal, written request for review by the Associate Dean. The Associate Dean investigates the matter and makes a decision as to whether the misconduct has occurred and, if so, which sanctions should be applied.

Decision by the Dean

If the student and faculty member involved agree with the Associate Dean's decision and sanction, the matter closes. If one of them disagrees, however, they make further the matter to the Dean by making a written request within 14 days of the Associate Dean's decision. The Dean then interviews the faculty member and student involved, as well as any witnesses, and comes to a decision on the matter.

If the matter cannot be resolved at this point, either the student or faculty member may request a hearing.


Requests for hearings must be submitted to the Chair of the Disciplinary Committee within ten calendar days of the Dean's decision. The Disciplinary Committee is the body that hears arguments at the hearing and consists of three faculty members and two students.

At the hearing, both parties may question witnesses, present evidence, and make arguments in their own favor. The burden of proof lies with the person who requested the hearing. Students may not have anyone with them during these closed hearings.

Within ten days of the hearing, the Disciplinary Committee must make a decision regarding whether misconduct occurred and, if so, what the sanctions are. This decision is final and may not be appealed.

Sanctions for Academic and Professional Misconduct at NIU College of Law

The Rule of Professional Conduct and Interpretive Comment expressly does not address sanctions. Sanctions are left up to the discretion of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, the Dean, and the Disciplinary Committee.

Typical sanctions for misconduct at other law schools can provide examples of what you might expect if you are found responsible for misconduct at NIU, however:

  • Lowered assignment or course grade
  • Failing assignment or course grade
  • Formal reprimand
  • Probation
  • Restitution (monetary or otherwise)
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Degree revocation

Consulting a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor

If you have been accused of academic or professional misconduct at NIU College of Law, you should know that the disciplinary procedures leave room for ambiguity. If you're not familiar with student defense processes at colleges and universities, you may not know how to navigate the procedures in your favor. A student defense attorney-advisor can provide you with the guidance you need, even if they aren't allowed to represent you at the hearing. They can help you gather evidence, prepare your arguments, and, most importantly, coach you on standing up for your rights.

Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of students all over the country with academic and professional misconduct allegations and has the knowledge to guide you. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to help protect the future of your legal career.

Contact Us Today!

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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