Student Defense – Notre Dame Law School

The University of Notre Dame expects all members of its community to respect and honor the intellectual and creative contributions of each individual. As part of a collaborative educational endeavor, everyone should work toward creating an environment that fosters the development of students in disciplined habits of mind, body, and spirit. A culture of integrity permeates the University of Notre Dame, and students must adhere to an honor pledge stating as much.

Honor and academic integrity are integral to Notre Dame Law School as well. Because law students are planning to enter an honored profession, their character and conduct should reflect favorably upon their future legal career, the school, and themselves. To this end, Notre Dame Law School's students and faculty have instituted an Honor Code that everyone must follow.

Notre Dame Law believes that your conduct during law school speaks to what kind of lawyer you will be. The Law School, therefore, takes your behavior as a student very seriously. Indeed, most state bar associations will require you to complete a moral character and fitness evaluation before admitting you. Any misconduct infractions during your time as a law student may prevent you from passing this evaluation.

When you're accused of academic misconduct or an honor code violation, it's vital that you defend yourself to protect your future.

Law Student Academic Misconduct at Notre Dame

Academic and professional conduct at Notre Dame Law is governed by the Honor Code, contained in the Law School's Hoynes Code of academic regulations. The Notre Dame Law School Honor Code presumes that law students will not lie, cheat, or steal. The Code also lists examples of academic misconduct and sets out rules for how to administer the Code.

Examples of Academic Misconduct at Notre Dame Law

  • Unauthorized use of materials or consultation with another person in an exam
  • Unauthorized use of materials or consultation with another person in research, class preparation, or another assignment in a manner expressly forbidden by the instructor
  • Submitting the work of another as one's own work
  • Submitting written work for a course requirement or journal publication if that work was used previously, in whole or substantial part, for an assignment in a different course
  • Misrepresentation related to Law School classes, activities, and programs, such as a clinical course, externship, journals, moot courts, job searchers, scholarship applications, and student competitions
  • Intentional misappropriation of notes, papers, books, computers, or other academic materials of another law student, faculty member, the Law School, or the University

Not every instance of academic misconduct falls under the above list. Any potential violations that may fall outside the Code are under the sole jurisdiction of the Dean, except grading. Grading is separate from the Honor Code process.

How Notre Dame Law Handles Academic Misconduct

At Notre Dame Law, students and student-elected bodies handle a substantial portion of the Honor Code violation process. When a student, faculty member, or administrative personnel believes there has been an Honor Code violation, they must report it to the Dean (or Dean's Delegate) or the Student Bar Association (SBA) President. From there, the Honor Council and SBA handle the procedures.

Investigation by the Student Prosecutor

When the Dean or SBA President receives a formal allegation of academic misconduct, they refer it to the Honor Council. The Honor Council is a group of three law students, one from each year, elected by other members of their class to serve a one-year term. The Honor Council must pass the allegation to the Student Prosecutor for investigation. The Student Prosecutor is a Notre Dame Law student appointed by the SBA President to investigate and prosecute Honor Code violations. Once the Student Prosecutor starts a formal allegation, they must inform the accused student.

If the Student Prosecutor determines that there was no violation of the Honor Code, the matter closes. If the allegation has merit, the case moves forward.


After the investigation, there is a hearing for the accused student in front of a Hearing Panel. Accused students may choose a Student Defender for a hearing, as well as testify, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence. Accused students may not have an external advisor, such as an attorney, present with them during the hearing. But the Honor Code does not prohibit accused students from consulting with an attorney-advisor outside of the hearing.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Panel will determine if the accused student is guilty or not guilty by unanimous vote.

Sanctions for Misconduct at Notre Dame Law School

If an accused student at Notre Dame Law is guilty of an Honor Code violation, the Hearing Panel will deliberate privately on appropriate sanctions. The Hearing Panel will present its determination and recommended sanctions to the Dean, who must approve or modify the decision within 14 days. The Hearing Panel is free to choose from one of the following non-exclusive sanction options:

  • Oral admonition
  • Written warning
  • Academic reprimand
  • Probation
  • Restitution
  • Monetary fine
  • Work sanctions
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

It's important to note that sanctions for Honor Code violations cannot reduce a grade.


The Notre Dame Law School Honor Code does not provide a mechanism for appealing a guilty determination of academic misconduct. Once the Hearing Panel has issued a decision and the Dean of the Law School certifies it, it is final.

Consulting an Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor

If you cannot have counsel present during your Honor Code violation hearing at Notre Dame Law School, how could an attorney-advisor possibly help? You can still consult with an advisor outside of the hearing for advice on how to conduct yourself during the investigation and hearing proceedings. Your advisor can help you navigate what is an intense process and can, for example, coach you on questions to ask witnesses during a hearing and help you gather evidence during an investigation leading up to a disciplinary hearing.

Joseph D. Lento specializes in defending graduate and undergraduate students from charges of academic misconduct. The Lento Law Firm has helped thousands of university students across the country and they can help you. Call 888-535-3686 or contact us online for the help you need during a difficult time.