Student Defense - The Georgetown University Law Center

Georgetown Law opened in the fall of 1870 at the recommendation of the Georgetown University directors, with the intention of training lawyers separate from other students. Initially, there were fewer than 30 students enrolled, and the program was for two years of evening classes. However, by 1878, they had established Masters in Law program. By 1903, the school had its first international student (from the Philippines). To this day, the school retains a large international student body. Georgetown Law is one of the most prestigious law programs in the United States and consistently is listed in the US News & World Report ranking. Its graduates range from federal and state judges to billionaires to even a President.

As a field, law is incredibly competitive and requires a foundation both of excellence and integrity. The pressure to accomplish everything can be demanding. An academic record that reflects this excellence will pave the way for many doors to open for your future. If you're a student at Georgetown Law, you have most likely spent countless hours working relentlessly throughout undergraduate and studying for the LSATS. Allegations of academic or professional misconduct can drastically affect your future career as a lawyer, and so it's critical that you take them seriously so that your hard work and hundreds of thousands of dollars don't go to waste.

Professional Responsibility as a Law Student

The practice of law, like the practice of medicine, has high standards of excellence. As a representative working on behalf of justice, lawyers must be ethical and have integrity. The American Bar Association has written extensively about professional conduct and Georgetown Law, like many other law programs, approaches preparation to be a lawyer holistically. While you are a student, you are expected to continue to cultivate the professionalism and the moral character you'll need as a lawyer. For this reason, breaches of academic integrity or instances of misconduct may be even more serious than they are at the undergraduate level. It's important that you ensure that you're familiar with the Georgetown Law Student Handbook of Academic Policies and understand the standards therein.

Honor Code and Student Handbook

The section on student conduct in the Student Handbook begins by saying, “Without regard to motive, intentional student conduct that is dishonest, evidences lack of integrity or trustworthiness, or may unfairly impinge upon the rights or privileges of members of the Law Center Community is prohibited.”

Not only does integrity apply to the academic process, but the Student Handbook also clearly outlines where integrity and professional responsibility are applicable to job and internship searches. Section 109 states: “Students are cautioned to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in the preparation of their job resumes, letters, and application forms. The inclusion of material that is misleading, inaccurate, or false may be a violation of the Student Disciplinary Code.”

Additionally, it specifies that an acceptance is considered a binding commitment, and all other pending applications must be immediately withdrawn. Georgetown takes it so seriously that they recommend, “If unusual or extenuating circumstances arise following an acceptance of an offer, students should consult with a career advisor at the Law Center before taking actions that may violate this policy.” In part, this seriousness stems from the ethics that undergird how a lawyer is expected to behave during their career.

What is the Appeals Process?

If you want to file an appeal, for most hearings, you have 14-15 days to do so. There are certain qualifications that you must demonstrate, such as a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome, a conflict of interest on the part of the decision-maker, or significant evidence that was not available at the time that is now available, which could impact the outcome.

Although the process is generally the same for each of the proceedings, it's important that you take time to review the Student Handbook for your particular circumstances. Part Three (p. 114) describes the process for regular disciplinary action.

Long-Term and Collateral Consequences

Not only are there immediate potential consequences such as suspension or expulsion, but there are also significant ramifications that may result from the suspension or expulsion. These can extend beyond your academic career and into your professional career.

In the Student Handbook, section 502 speaks about Central Reporting and states: “Notwithstanding the requirement of confidentiality, convictions involving suspension or expulsion may, to the extent permitted by law, be reported to a central collection service such as the Law School Data Assembly Service for use by other schools.” Subsequently, beyond a possible note on your permanent academic record, it's possible that you might find it difficult to gain admittance to another school and acquire your law degree, especially if the school accesses a central collection service. With all of the money and time you've poured into reaching this point, you don't want to throw it all away.

Another long-term consequence is that it could impact your ability to practice law: most jurisdictions that grant licenses require you to disclose any violations of academic integrity.

Extraordinary Attorney-Advisor for Georgetown University Law

If you or a loved one is facing allegations or any issues of dispute at Georgetown Law, it's imperative that you reach out immediately and find a qualified attorney-advisor who can help you with the proceedings. Georgetown Law's high standards of excellence and professional reputation may end up causing undue pressure to resolve your matter in a way that leaves the school in a favorable light. An experienced attorney-advisor who's knowledgeable in how graduate law program proceedings work will be able to help you navigate the process in a way that results in the best possible outcome for you or your loved one. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have assisted hundreds of law students across the nation over the course of many years. They believe firmly in the right of each student to due process and bring their dedication and heart to every case they work with. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or reach out online to learn more about how they can help.

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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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