Student Defense – Santa Clara University School of Law

To become a licensed attorney, law students must demonstrate that their conduct is worthy of the legal profession, which requires honesty and integrity. At the Santa Clara University School of Law, students training to become lawyers must also follow these standards. Santa Clara Law expects all students to act with honesty and candor, and to fulfill obligations of good faith and fair dealing in relations with their peers, university faculty and staff, and the professional legal community.

Law students who do not uphold a commitment to honesty and integrity in academic or professional settings may face penalties for their behavior. These penalties can be severe and have lasting repercussions on a law graduate aiming to be a practicing attorney. Not only does a determination of academic or professional misconduct leave a stain on your record as a law student, but it may also follow you into professional life and prevent the state bar association from admitting you.

If you're a Santa Clara Law student with an allegation of academic or professional misconduct, you have a lot at stake. Consider contacting a student defense attorney specialized in law student misconduct.

Academic and Professional Misconduct at Santa Clara Law

At Santa Clara Law, the Student Bulletin includes the academic standards of behavior all students must follow. The Bulletin contains the Academic Integrity policy, which prohibits certain forms of academic misconduct and outlines the procedure for handling cases of academic misconduct that come up. It also lists the examination rules for the Law School.

Prohibited Behavior at Santa Clara Law

Violations of the Academic Integrity Policy include:

  • Cheating on tests or assignments: Examples of cheating may be referencing materials during an exam that are prohibited, bringing an unauthorized electronic device to an exam, or continuing to write an exam after time has expired.
  • Plagiarism: Using the words or ideas of another without appropriate attribution is plagiarism, and it's a violation of the Academic Integrity code.
  • Unauthorized collaboration: Unauthorized collaboration is working with others on the production of an academic assignment or exam without the prior authorization of the professor.
  • Multiple submission of same work product: Submitting substantially the same work product in more than one course without prior authorization from the professor is multiple submission, or “double-dipping.”
  • Any dishonest behavior concerning academic work: Other dishonest behavior may include but is not limited to providing false or misleading information to a professor or law school official, appropriating or interfering with the work of others, and providing false or misleading information to the University or Law School in an admissions or scholarship application.

During each student's orientation to Santa Clara Law, they must acknowledge a Memorandum of Understanding stating that they have read and agree to the Academic Integrity policy. Therefore, it is not possible to claim ignorance as a defense when you are accused of academic dishonesty.

How Does Santa Clara Law Handle Academic Misconduct?

Professors at Santa Clara Law may handle instances of suspected academic misconduct directly with students. Faculty do not have to take the issue to the senior assistant dean for student services unless they feel it is an intentional or substantial violation of the Academic Integrity Policy.

When the senior assistant dean receives a report of suspected academic misconduct at Santa Clara Law, they may resolve the matter or refer it to the Panel on Student Conduct for a hearing. The senior assistant dean can also refer the case to an outside hearing officer. If the senior assistant dean chooses to resolve the matter, an accused student can respond in writing, either by accepting the imposed sanctions or requesting a panel hearing if they disagree.

The Hearing

At the formal hearing, students go before a committee of three people—one student and two faculty members—who are part of the Panel on Student Conduct. At the hearing, the accused student can present evidence and cross-examine witnesses, as can the opposing party. The senior assistant dean represents the law school at academic integrity hearings. The burden of proof falls on Santa Clara Law, to provide clear and convincing evidence. Accused students may have outside counsel present with them at the hearing.

The three-person committee will make a decision at the end of the hearing and impose an authorized sanction.


If the accused student disagrees with the committee's hearing decision, they can appeal to the dean within 30 days of the date of the decision. The dean will review the decision and may reverse the decision or reduce sanctions. The dean cannot impose a harsher sanction, however. The dean's decision, whether to overrule or affirm the committee's findings, is final.

Potential Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

Students who are found to have violated the Santa Clara Law Academic Integrity policy may face one of the possible sanctions:

  • Informal warning
  • Exclusion from activities
  • Censure
  • Grade reduction at professor's discretion
  • Formal suspension
  • Dismissal
  • Any other appropriate sanction

Faculty members also reserve the right to make their own determinations of final course grades in an academic integrity matter.

Contact a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor

If you are a Santa Clara Law student accused of academic integrity, you will have to go through the law school's formal disciplinary procedures. If you are unfamiliar with such processes, you may easily feel overwhelmed. An experienced attorney-advisor who's assisted students in your situation can help you prepare your defense, craft a response statement, gather evidence, and can represent you at the formal hearing. To secure a favorable outcome following an academic misconduct accusation at Santa Clara Law, you shouldn't try to handle it on your own.

Joseph D. Lento has helped law students all over the country in academic, professional, and personal misconduct matters against their colleges and universities. To protect your future career as a lawyer, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

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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