Student Defense – University of Chicago Law School

The University of Chicago is an intellectual community where all members should adhere to the principles of academic integrity, mutual respect and civility, and personal responsibility. Students at the University of Chicago Law School must also follow these standards, as well as the policies of the Law School. As a law student, you must show not only knowledge of the law but also respect and good moral character that will make you fit to be a lawyer.

Academic or professional misconduct as a law student can lead to severe repercussions. A misconduct determination goes beyond law school; the state bar association will find out, and it may negatively impact your character and fitness evaluation. An allegation of academic misconduct will not only derail your studies but may also prevent you from practicing law.

The University of Chicago Law School will not hesitate to carry out disciplinary procedures against students who are accused of academic misconduct. If you're a law student facing a misconduct allegation, then you must take the disciplinary process seriously if you want to avoid an academic misconduct determination on your record. An experienced student defense attorney can help.

Law Student Misconduct at the University of Chicago Law School

The Law School has a Student Handbook that pertains specifically to law students at the University of Chicago. Concerning student misconduct, however, the Law School defers to the University of Chicago Student Manual.

The Law School Student Handbook only has two articles explicitly addressing academic misconduct: Article 4.8 Prohibition on Cutting and Pasting and Article 4.10 Electronic Devices & Headphones During Exams. These articles address copying and pasting text into online exams (which is prohibited) and the use of headphones during exams (which is sometimes allowed).

Examples of Academic Misconduct

For all other forms of academic misconduct, the Law School relies on University Policies. The University of Chicago Student Manual prohibits the following forms of academic misconduct:

  • Plagiarism
  • Cheating on exams
  • Falsifications of documents or records
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Violation of computing policies

How the University of Chicago Law School Handles Student Misconduct

When a law student at the University of Chicago is accused of academic misconduct, the Law School follows all disciplinary procedures in the University’s Student Manual. The Law School does not have a separate disciplinary process for students accused of violating the Law School Student Handbook.

Report to Dean of Students of Law School

The University of Chicago has four separate systems for disciplinary procedures; current law students accused of academic misconduct will go through the Area Disciplinary System. Your allegation of academic misconduct will first go to the Dean of Students of the Law School. The Dean will notify you of the accusation against you, including the name of your accuser, and you will have five days to schedule a meeting with the Dean to discuss the supposed misconduct.

Dean's Investigation

Before, during, and after your meeting with the Dean, the Dean will also gather facts about the accusation, including interviews or written statements from witnesses or relevant people. The Dean may decide to resolve the complaint informally, resolve the complaint administratively, or refer the complaint to the Academic Dean and Area Disciplinary Committee.

Informal resolution

The Dean issues an official warning and may suspend some student rights and privileges for a certain period of time.

Administrative resolution

The Dean proposes a sanction of a warning or disciplinary probation, and you may accept or decline in writing. If you accept, the decision is final. If you decline, the accusation goes to a hearing with the Academic Dean and Area Disciplinary Committee.

Area Disciplinary Committee hearing

When a case goes to the Area Disciplinary Committee, you'll have a chance to submit a written statement as well as any exonerating materials before the hearing date.

During the hearing, you may have to make opening and closing statements in addition to answering committee members' questions. You cannot cross-examine the witnesses or your accuser. The Area Disciplinary Committee will vote after the hearing and determine if you have violated the University's academic misconduct policies and what the proper sanction is.

You may have a support person with you throughout the disciplinary process. The support person cannot speak on your behalf at the committee hearing, but they can confer with you and advise you during breaks.

Potential Sanctions

The possible sanctions for academic misconduct as a law student at the University of Chicago include:

  • Warning
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Loss of privileges
  • Discretionary sanctions
  • Disciplinary suspension
  • Disciplinary expulsion
  • Revocation of the degree

Appeals Procedures

If you do not agree with the decision of the Area Disciplinary Committee and accompanying sanction, you can go request a review of your case. You must make your request in writing within 15 days of the date of the Area Disciplinary Committee's decision. You must prepare and submit review materials yourself; you cannot have an attorney submit them on your behalf.

You may only request a review if:

  • The hearing didn't follow proper procedures
  • New information is available that the committee didn't have access to for the hearing

The Dean of Students will evaluate your review request and, if it meets the right criteria, will send it to the Review Board. The Review Board will either sustain, reduce, increase, strike, or modify the sanctions imposed.

A Student Defense Advisor Can Help

The procedures following an academic misconduct allegation at the University of Chicago Law School are complex. You must understand how the proceedings work to craft a solid defense strategy. If you want to walk away without an academic misconduct violation in your record, or to mitigate an outcome that can potentially end your career as an attorney before it starts, then you must take the accusation seriously.

An attorney-advisor specialized in student defense will know how best to prepare your defense, help you gather exonerating materials, and ensure the University respects your rights. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped thousands of graduate and undergraduate students with academic misconduct allegations across the country. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options.

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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