Student Defense - Thomas M. Cooley Law School

If you face disciplinary proceedings at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, associated with Western Michigan University, you will want to fight to protect your education.

Law is a celebrated field of study with a high barrier to entry. If you face academic dismissal or are entering into the school's disciplinary proceedings, you deserve to have your rights defended. To have your future in law thrown into doubt after putting in all that work, time, and investment would be devastating. Arming yourself with knowledge about your school's disciplinary proceedings and securing an experienced attorney-advisor who can fight your corner is the best way to safeguard your future.

Honor Code

Thomas M. Cooley Law School is committed to the highest standards of academic and professional integrity. Law students are held to a higher than usual expectation of conduct. Professionalism and ethics are an essential part of your legal education, built into your course itself.

Before beginning coursework at WMU Cooley Law School, a judge administers an oath, and new students are introduced to WMU-Cooley's Honor Code. Students must pledge: "We Shall Not Lie, Cheat, Steal, or Plagiarize, or Tolerate Among Us Those Who Do."

The honor code emphasizes that "ethics are as important as academic performance and the mastery of practical legal skills." It encourages the development of the ethical values that law students and lawyers, as professionals, must possess.

School-related Honor Code violations include the following:

  • Lying
  • Cheating
  • Stealing
  • Plagiarism
  • Toleration

Students are, of course, also bound to uphold Western Michigan University school-wide policies.

The School of Law takes its honor code very seriously. If a student is suspected of a violation, the Dean and Honor Council will launch an investigation. If you fail to fully cooperate promptly with requests made by the Dean, the Honor Council, or the Office of Law School Advocate in connection with any Honor Code proceedings, your conduct will count as a violation in itself.

Sanctions for violating the Honor Code could range in severity from grade penalties to permanent expulsion. However, it is important to note that any sanction at all could be catastrophic for your legal career. Even when accompanied by a lesser sanction, the school will typically make a note on the student's permanent record, which in itself could make it impossible to pursue a legal career. Depending on the incident, the law school may report the incident to the Michigan State Bar, who may themselves then deny admission to the Bar.

As such, you must be proactive in defending yourself from reputational damage and any formal sanctions and notes in your permanent record.

Misconduct Disciplinary Procedures

The academic Dean oversees all academic matters, including ethical and professionalism issues. The Dean of the Law School appoints an Investigating Dean for each campus to enforce the Honor Code. The Honor Council reviews and decides sanctions and dismissals proposed by the Investigating Dean and hears and adjudicates cases and appeals. The Discipline Board handles School-wide misconduct issues.

A report of alleged misconduct must be in writing. The person making the allegation must describe the alleged misconduct, including the approximate time and place, sign their report and file it with the Dean. Once this process has begun, it is of the utmost importance that the accused student cooperates with the process within the strict time limits.

The Dean will either dismiss the report or serve a Request for Investigation on the Student. If a Request for Investigation, they have 48 hours to make their response. Once the investigation is complete, the Dean will dismiss the report, agree to sanctions with the student, or refer on to the Honor Council or Discipline Board.

If the report is not dismissed and sanctions are not agreed upon at this stage, the case goes to a hearing, where the appropriate board will rule on whether misconduct took place. The board will make their decision and impose sanctions. Students have the right to appeal this decision but are bound by strict time limits. If you don't move swiftly, you will lose your chance to appeal.

Disciplinary sanctions vary from case to case but can include:

  • Administrative probation (with or without conditions)
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal from the School
  • Banning Students from School property

Academic Dismissal

Meeting the demands of a heavy law school workload is a challenging proposition. Sadly even for the most diligent students, life and health can get in the way. If you underperform academically, even for a small part of your course, there is a risk you might be dismissed from the course.

Students who do not maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher may be academically dismissed or put on academic probation. The decision comes at the discretion of the Dean and depends on individual circumstances. This means it is vital that you communicate extenuating circumstances which the school should take into account. If you make a strong case for yourself, you might persuade the school to offer you an alternative solution, such as time away to recover and the chance to repeat part of your studies. Though this comes with time and financial cost, it could provide a lifeline that might save your legal career.

If dismissed, you can appeal and later reapply for admission, but you will have to prove that external factors had previously prevented you from meeting the course's demands. Given the devastating consequences of dismissal or expulsion, law students should take all legitimate routes to avoid dismissal. Whether your defense is based on a grievance with the school or extenuating circumstances, you will want to navigate your school's disciplinary process with the best possible appeal.

Do You Need An Attorney-Advisor?

Disciplinary proceedings will strike a particular fear in law students' hearts because, simply put, the stakes are higher. Not only can misconduct allegations see you kicked off your course, but academic or disciplinary sanctions can precede you from ever practicing in law. If you are facing disciplinary proceedings for academic or professional reasons at law school, you must put forward your best defense.

You have the best chance of success if you secure an experienced attorney-advisor. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience in student discipline matters and has successfully helped countless law students address and resolve the unique challenges that can present themselves in law school. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today.

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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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