Student Defense – the University of California, Hastings College of the Law

Students at the University of California Hastings, College of the Law, should hold themselves to high standards of professional and ethical behavior. To confer a law degree, UC Hastings expects graduates not only to have demonstrated intellectual mastery of the law but also moral character and integrity befitting the legal profession.

At UC Hastings, students cannot reach their full potential if there is distrust, dishonesty, and disrespect in academic matters. To promote an environment that supports confidence, trust, and respect, the College of the Law has a Code of Student Conduct and Discipline.

Law students who do not adhere to the conduct standards outlined in the Code of Conduct will face disciplinary action. Due to the trust the public places in legal professionals and the moral character and fitness requirements of most state bar associations, UC Hastings will take law student academic misconduct seriously.

Academic Misconduct at UC Hastings Law

The UC Hastings Code of Conduct and Student Discipline is part of the Student Handbook and covers all forms of misconduct at the College of the Law, including academic, professional, and personal. The code also provides the disciplinary procedures for students accused of academic misconduct.

The Code of Conduct and Student Discipline applies to current students and graduates who are alleged to have violated the code during their studies.

What constitutes academic misconduct at UC Hastings Law?

UC Hastings prohibits several forms of academic dishonesty and misrepresentation:

  • Copying another student's exam or assignment
  • Submitting work previously done to fulfill the requirements of another course
  • Using or consulting unauthorized sources during an exam or other assignment
  • Unauthorized collaboration on an exam or an assignment
  • Intentionally stealing, altering, sequestering, or destroying materials needed by another student for an academic endeavor
  • Disobeying exam instructions
  • Altering or interfering with grading
  • Obtaining or giving unauthorized aid on an exam or assignment
  • Obtaining unauthorized knowledge of an exam prior to the exam's start, or failing to report inadvertently obtaining unauthorized exam material
  • Intentionally discussing an exam with or near a student who hasn't take the exam yet
  • Any behavior that gives a student an unfair advantage
  • Plagiarism
  • Forging, altering, or misusing an official document or transcript of the College of the Law

The Procedures for Academic Misconduct at UC Hastings Law

Complaint and Investigation

Any member of the UC Hastings College of the Law community can bring a conduct complaint against a student to the Academic Dean. The Dean will investigate the claim and, if it has merit, bring it to the accused student's attention and give them a chance to respond. After the investigation, the Dean has several options. The most likely options for an academic misconduct allegation are informal resolution and a formal hearing. The Dean also has the authority to give interim sanctions while the disciplinary process is ongoing.

Informal Resolution

The Dean can resolve a Conduct Code infraction by issuing a sanction or other appropriate disposition. The accused student can request a formal hearing if they disagree with the Dean's decision in the informal resolution process. If the student doesn't request a formal hearing, the informal disposition is final.

At any time during this process, a student can waive a hearing and plead to a violation. The Dean can then impose an appropriate sanction, but the student can appeal this sanction. The student can't appeal responsibility for the violation after having pled it.

Formal Hearing

At the formal hearing, students will have a chance to respond to charges and evidence in front of the Hearing Panel. The Hearing Panel is two faculty members and one student. At the hearing, accused students will have the chance to question witnesses and present evidence. The Code of Conduct allows accused students to bring an external advisor with them to the hearings, although this advisor can't speak on the student's behalf.

Decision and Notice

After the hearing is over, the Hearing Panel will have time to deliberate and come to a decision. The Panel can only make a decision by a majority vote. Fifteen days after the hearing, the Panel will issue a report with their decision and sanctions.

Potential Consequences for Academic Misconduct

A student found guilty of violating the UC Hastings Code of Conduct may face one or more of the following sanctions:

  • Censure
  • Restitution
  • Grade reduction
  • Exclusion from activities
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal
  • Revocation
  • Interim exclusion from activities or suspension

The Academic Dean can decide to note a sanction on a law student's transcript. If the sanction is on a transcript, UC Hastings will report it to a state bar that a law graduate is seeking admission to.


During the disciplinary process, accused students can appeal after interim sanctions or after the hearing of the decision panel. Students have 15 days to submit an appeal to the Dean in writing. Students can only appeal if there was a procedural error in the hearing, the evidence was not sufficient, the imposed sanction was excessive, one or more of the Panel members was biased, or there's new information available.

After reviewing the appeal, the Dean may affirm or overrule the Hearing Panel's decision. The Dean also has the authority to reduce the imposed sanction, request additional information, or refer the case back to the Hearing Panel. The Dean's appeal decision is final.

How Can an Academic Misconduct Advisor Help?

If you're a UC Hastings College of the Law student going through a misconduct disciplinary procedure, you may feel overwhelmed. You can be certain that your institution will treat this matter seriously. To stand a chance against an academic misconduct accusation, you should consult with a student defense attorney-advisor. An advisor can confer with you during your hearing, help you execute your defense strategy, and assist you in gathering evidence. Additionally, law school disciplinary proceedings are a unique animal, characterized by intense and rigorous proceedings unlike most other academic institutions. Everything is at stake when accused of academic misconduct in law school, and attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience in ensuring a fair process and a favorable outcome for those accused.

Joseph D. Lento specializes in defending law students, in addition to graduate and undergraduate students from misconduct charges at their colleges and universities across the United States. If you're a law student concerned about your future, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 today to discuss your options.