The Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) is a private, non-profit law school located in San Diego, California. TJSL is not accredited by the American Bar Association. Still, it does have approval from the California State Bar's Committee of Bar Examiners. This means that law school graduates may not be able to work in other states besides California. Despite this, the school offers the Juris Doctor and Master of Laws programs, emphasizing criminal law, intellectual property law, financial services, and sports and entertainment. The school also offers a combined J.D./M.B.A. offering with San Diego State University.
TJSL‘s study body has many immigrants and students who are the first in their families to study law. Thus, the responsibility on their shoulders is higher than the average student to succeed. TJSL students must demonstrate a high degree of academic integrity and professional behavior essential to an attorney's personality. TJSL has high expectations for its students regarding their conduct and performance. Those who commit violations may experience multiple setbacks, including suspension or expulsion. Without the assistance of a skilled attorney-advisor who specializes in student defense, law students may face graduation delays or permanent dismissal with no chance of readmission to the law school.
Academic Misconduct at TJSL
The most recent student handbook at TJSL describes the responsibilities and rules that students must follow. In the Appendix G segment of the code, the school emphasizes the importance of academic integrity. Violations of these principles go against the law school's rules and are subject to disciplinary action and sanctions.
Examples of academic misconduct include:
- Cheating on an exam or academic exercise
- Leaving the examination room with test materials, notes, or forms
- Unauthorized collaboration with other students
- Plagiarizing a paper, whether unintentional or deliberately
- Compromising anonymous work and grading by revealing identifying information to professors
- Submitting the same assignment to multiple professors without permission
- Knowingly furnishing the administration with false information
- Willingly disrupting the educational process by harassing, destroying materials, or disrupting the classroom environment
TJSL also has a strict plagiarism policy separate from the student handbook. The handbook details the specifics of each violation and the adjudication process to maintain its reputation and keep the playing field level for all students. As is clear, the law school is strict in its efforts to prevent these actions from occurring with students.
Hearing and Investigation Process
TJSL works with each case depending on the nature of the violation. The Ethics Committee handles the ethical breaches of the code of conduct. In contrast, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs handles educational process violations. Regardless of the party taking the case, the process is similar.
The Director of Academic Administration refers the matter to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for both violations. If the latter believes that a possible violation occurred, they notify the Ethics Committee Chairperson. The chairperson appoints an investigator who gathers information related to the case. The investigator determines whether the claim is legitimate or if no violations occurred. In the event of finding a possible violation, the investigator tries to resolve the issue with a student before scheduling a hearing.
Any person involved in the case can ask for a hearing. During the process, the hearing panel considers the evidence presented by both sides. After it ends, the committee determines whether a violation happened and issues a final written decision regarding the matter. Students may appeal the hearing panel's decision to the Dean. However, to qualify for a review, the student must prove that the panel's decision is biased or that a procedural error occurred. If the Dean believes the appeal warrants review, they may schedule another hearing.
Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
Law school is still college, which means that students will make mistakes as they familiarize themselves with all aspects of their education and their role in society. However, when a mistake threatens a student's legal career, they should do everything to address these allegations competently. Some of the possible sanctions for academic misconduct issues at TJSL include:
- Issuing a written reprimand or warning that permanently remains on the student's file
- Canceling a student's participation in an exam
- Denying the student course credit
- Placement on formal administrative probation
- Suspension from classes for at least one semester
- Administrative dismissal
Even a temporary suspension or denial of course credit delays a student's progress. The most damaging sanction among those listed, however, is administrative dismissal. Expelled students have difficulty re-enrolling in another program and have to start over if they find one.
The reputational damage alone creates challenges later when the student wants to find a job and must present their transcript. With years, time, effort, and money on the line, students need the help of an expert when they face sanctions for code violations.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
With everything that can go wrong during this critical and stressful time in a law student's life, each action makes a difference. Whether it's a genuine mistake or a lapse in judgment, no student should have to face dismissal or suspension without going through the proper process. However, even panels make errors. If a student doesn't know what to look for, it becomes infinitely more challenging to negotiate with a board appropriately.
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento understands what you're going through as a law student facing a hearing. Mr. Lento specializes in student defense and takes on cases of all types, ranging from mild allegations to severe violations that can ruin a student's future. With years of experience working with students throughout the US who face similar allegations, attorney Lento decreases the likelihood of an unfavorable case outcome.
Don't wait until it's too late to make a difference in your case outcome. Every action you take now determines your outcome. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a discreet and no-nonsense consultation at 888-535-3686.