Student Defense – University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law

The legal profession is endowed with public trust, and as such, lawyers must conduct themselves with honesty, transparency, and according to professional standards set by the American Bar Association (ABA) and state bar associations. Considering these ethical requirements, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law (UNC Law) expects law students to behave with academic and professional integrity at all times. UNC-Chapel Hill also has academic honesty standards that all university students must follow, and if they don't, they could face disciplinary action.

Law students who do not follow the standards of conduct set by UNC-Chapel Hill could have lasting repercussions for their legal careers. In addition to any sanctions the University imposes, law students may have difficulty obtaining clerkships or internships with an academic or professional misconduct notation on their record. Such an incident that occurs during law school can also prevent law graduates from passing the character and fitness evaluation of the state bar association.

An academic misconduct incident on your law school record could prevent you from launching your legal career. If you are accused of academic or professional misconduct by UNC Law, consider contacting a student defense attorney-advisor who can help you fight an accusation of misconduct and keep your legal career on course.

Student Misconduct at UNC Law

Although UNC Law has academic policies regarding professional conduct, plagiarism, and examination rules, these policies don't cover disciplinary procedures or what happens if a student violates such policies. It appears that the UNC Law JD academic policies serve more like guidelines, and where appropriate, the School of Law defers to other relevant policies and regulations, such as the UNC University Honor Code or the ABA and North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.

As all enrolled students at UNC-Chapel Hill, including law students, must follow University policies, the students at UNC Law are subject to the University Honor Code, which is housed in the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance.

Examples of offenses under the Honor Code at UNC-Chapel Hill

  • Plagiarism
  • Falsification, fabrication, or misrepresentation of data, other information, or citations
  • Unauthorized assistance or collaboration in connection with academic work
  • Cheating
  • Violating requirements for the administration of an examination
  • Submitting an assignment that is the same as or substantially similar to one's own previously submitted work
  • Deliberately furnishing false information to members of the University community regarding academic dishonesty
  • Assisting or aiding another to commit academic dishonesty
  • Engaging in conduct within a University classroom that substantially disrupts the academic environment
  • Adversely interfering with one's credit, academic standing, privacy, or personal information
  • Violating University policies regarding use or management of resources such as computers, electronic resources, library resources, equipment, or supplies
  • Knowingly misrepresenting academic standing, performance, or accomplishments to members of the University community or others to gain an undue advantage

Each student has a responsibility not only to follow the Code but also to support its enforcement by reporting suspected violations.

How Does UNC Law Handle Academic and Professional Misconduct?

UNC-Chapel Hill has two honor systems for handling violations of the Honor Code, one for undergraduates and another for graduate and professional students. The Honor System for graduate and professional students comprises an Honor Court and an Attorney General. The Attorney General receives and investigates all reports of suspected Honor Code violations.

Instructors can submit Academic Violation Reports to the Office of Student Conduct if they suspect an Honor Code violation and may meet with the student to discuss sanctions or resolve the issue. If the matter isn't resolved by the student and instructor alone, the Student Attorney General will start an investigation. If the Attorney General charges the accused student with an Honor Code violation, the matter proceeds to a hearing.

At the hearing, accused students may present evidence and call witnesses, however, they do not have the right to have a licensed attorney to be present with them. Law students may only have other law students represent them in an Honor Code violation hearing.

If a student disagrees with the results of the hearing, they can appeal to an appellate board. The appellate board may refer the matter back to an Honor Court for review or dismiss the appeal. Students have a final appeal option, to the Chancellor. After the Chancellor reviews the case, the decision is final.

Potential Sanctions for Honor Code Violations at UNC Law

Sanctions for individual Honor Code violations may include academic sanctions, loss of privileges, or penalties of record.

Possible academic sanctions are:

  • Failing grade of a course or an assignment
  • Completion of an additional educational assignment
  • Other requirements to ensure the academic misconduct is remedied

Sanctions related to loss of privileges may include:

  • Loss of participation in athletic teams, activities, or organizations sponsored by the University, or an inability to recruit new members
  • Inability to attend campus events or sports activities
  • Inability to use University facilities such as parking, residences, or information technology resources
  • Inability to receive an award, prize, recognition, fellowship, or assistantship that permits the student to act on behalf of the University

Penalties of record are sanctions that go on a student's transcript and include:

  • Disciplinary probation
  • Disciplinary suspension (definite, indefinite, or permanent)
  • Expulsion

How A Specialized Attorney-Advisor Can Help

Although accused students may not have a licensed attorney present with them at their Honor Code violation hearing at UNC Law, a legal advisor can still improve the chances of a favorable outcome. An attorney-advisor with experience handling academic misconduct cases for graduate students can review the relevant policies, help you prepare your defense, and assist you with gathering witnesses and evidence. Don't leave your future in the hands of your inexperienced peers.

Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of law students nationwide with academic misconduct accusations and other academic issues at their colleges and universities. If you're concerned about your future as a lawyer, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

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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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