Law students at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor must adhere to the university's policies and work to promote its values. The University of Michigan is a community devoted to learning, where everyone can advance, preserve, and transmit knowledge. Students and faculty have certain rights and responsibilities concerning intellectual honesty, free expression, and respect for the rights and dignity of others.
Those who do not uphold the values of the university and who violate its policies may face hearings and sanctions. As a law student, an accusation of academic or professional misconduct can jeopardize your entire legal career. The consequences of a misconduct determination go far beyond school sanctions—you may not be admissible under the State Bar of Michigan for lack of moral character. Academic or non-academic misconduct during law school can end your career before it starts.
Misconduct at University of Michigan Law School
The University of Michigan Law School sets standards for members of its community concerning three forms of conduct—academic, professional, and personal. The Law School's standards are not necessarily hard and fast rules, but rather norms based on tradition, understanding, and shared academic and professional values. The intent of the Law School's policies is more general whereas the University of Michigan's policies are more specific; the two sets of rules work in tandem, and law students must adhere to both.
Although the University of Michigan's Law School divides standards into academic, professional, and personal, it's important to note that some behavior may violate more than one standard. These conduct standards apply to work taken at the Law School and outside the Law School for course credit.
Academic Misconduct at the University of Michigan Law School
- Self-plagiarism, or submitting substantially the same work for credit in more than one course without the informed permission of the instructor for each course
- Violating the rules of an examination
- Giving or receiving exam information when not authorized to do so
- Falsification of research information or data
- Falsification of Law School transcripts or other academic records
- Intentional misrepresentation or omission when seeking: admission, financial aid, credit for academic or extracurricular accomplishments, action by a faculty member or administrator, or employment
- Refusing to comply with Law School Student Disciplinary Procedures
- Any conduct that puts one student at an unfair advantage over others
Professional Conduct Standards at the University of Michigan Law School
The University of Michigan Law School expects its students to behave according to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct when working in a Law School clinic or similar program. Students must abide by these rules in all of the following professional settings:
- Working, paid or unpaid, for a law firm
- Working for a government office
- Working for a judge
- Working for an organization that provides legal services
How the University of Michigan Law School Handles Student Misconduct
The Michigan Law School has a three-stage disciplinary process for academic and professional misconduct. The first stage is an investigation, the second is a hearing, and the third is the appeal process.
When someone makes a formal complaint against you, the Assistant Dean must investigate and inform you. At this stage, you're allowed to consult with the Assistant Dean during the investigation, but you may also be suspended from the Law School temporarily. The Assistant Dean may try to resolve the issue during this stage without proceeding to a hearing.Note that a faculty member of the Law School cannot impose discipline for violations of the Standards of Conduct; only the Assistant Dean or Student Discipline Committee may do so. Instructors may revoke or withhold academic credit, however, in an instance involving academic misconduct.
Hearing and Decision by the Law School Student Discipline Committee
If the administrative investigation produces no resolution, the case moves to the second stage, which includes a hearing. The hearing may proceed through Track 1 or Track 2 procedures. The main difference between these Tracks is that Track 2 involves a Presenter who provides information of the alleged misconduct, whereas in Track 1, it's the Student Discipline Committee that gathers and provides this information. The Presenter in Track 2 may only be a faculty member or administration official.In Track 1, accused students may have a non-participating advisor (such as an attorney) at the hearing. In Track 2, students can choose an advisor who may speak on their behalf.
Discretionary Review by the Dean
If the Student Discipline Committee finds you have committed misconduct, you can appeal by asking the Dean to review the Committee's report. You may only appeal if you believe one of the following occurred:
- The Committee didn't follow the proper procedures
- There's insufficient support for the Committee's decision
- The imposed sanction is excessive
- New information is available
- One or more Committee members were biased
Possible Sanctions for Law Student Misconduct at the University of Michigan
If the Student Discipline Committee determines you are guilty of academic or professional misconduct, you could receive one of the following sanctions:
- Declaration of misconduct
- Formal apology (from you)
- Formal or informal reprimand
- Direction to stop conduct that is contrary to the Law School's Standards
- Eviction from the Lawyer's Club
- Denial of academic credit
In addition to these sanctions, the University of Michigan Law School may have to inform the Michigan Bar Association of your infractions as well.
How a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help
When you're facing serious sanctions and a misconduct determination, you may feel concerned for your future in the legal profession—and rightfully so. Law schools take academic and professional misconduct as a grave matter, so you should too. As a student going up against your educational institution, you may not have the resources to handle your own defense.
Joseph D. Lento is a student discipline defense attorney-advisor who's helped thousands of undergraduates and graduate students all over the country. Too much is at stake and involved and you should not be facing such concerns on your own. If you want to safeguard your future as a law student and a future lawyer, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.