Student Defense – University of Pennsylvania Law School

Law students must conduct themselves in a manner befitting both the legal profession and their educational institutions. Many law schools expect their students to be honest, fair, and respectful, and to pursue knowledge with integrity. The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School is no different, noting that each student has a responsibility to comply with the rules and procedures of the Law School.

These rules are in place not only to uphold the excellence of the Carey Law School community but also to prepare students to be lawyers with good moral character. The state bar association requires a character and fitness evaluation of each law graduate before they can practice law. If they don't pass this test, it can prevent licensure as a lawyer.

Any form of misconduct, whether academic, professional, or personal, may show up during a character and fitness evaluation and could interfere with a candidate's eligibility. The Carey Law School may also be required to inform the bar examiners of your misconduct infractions during law school.

When you're a law student facing an allegation of misconduct, it's a grave matter. Your academic and professional future is at stake. To help you defend yourself, you need an experienced student advisor by your side.

Misconduct at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Carey Law School has its own Code of Student Conduct and Responsibility, which applies to all enrolled law students. The code covers academic misconduct and other forms of personal conduct. The Law School also defers to the University of Pennsylvania concerning non-discrimination, sexual violence, sexual harassment, student disciplinary procedures.

Examples of Misconduct at Penn Law

  • Consulting unauthorized sources during an exam
  • Hiding or mutilating library materials
  • Submitting plagiarized work
  • Submitting work for credit that was already used for credit in another course at the Law School or another academic institution
  • Submitting work for academic credit when it was completed in a professional or employment setting
  • Disruption to normal Law School activities or functions
  • Acts of violence, intimidation, or reckless endangerment
  • Sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment
  • Falsifying credentials
  • Fraud
  • Violation of criminal statutes excluding summary offenses

Sexual Misconduct at the University of Pennsylvania

Penn’s Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Policy prohibits sexual misconduct by anyone in the University's community, on campus, and at University facilities. Under this policy, the following violations are subject to disciplinary action:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Non-forcible sexual acts
  • Relationship violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking

Law students who violate university policies must go through the University of Pennsylvania’s conduct procedures.

How Penn Law School Handles Misconduct

When Penn Law students violate the Law School's code of conduct, they may face disciplinary action. The Dean of the Law School and the Committee on Student Conduct and Responsibility handle allegations of misconduct. The Committee consists of two faculty members and three students.

Disciplinary Proceedings for Penn Law Students

  • Commencement of proceedings: Anyone may bring forward a violation of the Law School's code of conduct to the Dean or the Dean's designated representative. The Dean will review the allegation and either pursue it further by holding a conference with the accused student or dismiss it. After the conference, the Dean may issue a formal reprimand or send the student's case to the Committee.
  • Interlocutory orders: A pending disciplinary process does not alter a student's status or prevent them from attending classes, but it may hold up their receiving a degree.
  • Disposition by consent: If the accused student and the Dean agree on a sanction that is more severe than a formal warning, the Dean has to let the Committee know, and the decision is final. If they do not agree, the case proceeds to a hearing.
  • Hearing procedure: Disciplinary hearings at Penn Law are private, but the Law School may send information from any hearing to Bar Examiners. During the hearing, the Committee hears evidence and witnesses, and witnesses may be cross-examined. Students may have outside counsel throughout the hearing and the entire disciplinary process.
  • Judgment: At least four members of the Committee must vote to give a student a guilty determination. The student receives the judgment and opinion after the hearing is over.
  • Punishment and publication: The Committee determines the appropriate punishment if a student is guilty. The Committee can also ask to have any part of the proceedings in the student's official Law School file. Bar examiners, employers, and other supervisors of legal work can see the official judgment and opinion from the hearing.

Possible Sanctions for Misconduct

Punishments for students who violated the Penn Law code of conduct include but are not limited to:

  • Warning
  • Reprimand
  • Probation
  • Exclusion from one or more specified Law School activities
  • Deprivation of credit
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

How to Appeal a Misconduct Violation Decision at Penn Law

If a student wants to appeal the decision of the Committee, they must submit a formal request within 15 days from the final opinion. The student then goes before an Appeals Panel, consisting of three faculty members. The Appeals Panel can reduce or increase the punishment a student faces, as well as reverse or modify the opinion issued by the Committee.

If the Appeals Panel approves expulsion or suspension, the student can then appeal to the faculty. The student must send this second appeal to the Dean within 15 days of the decision of the Appeals Panel. Although the accused student can go before the Appeals Panel, they cannot go before the faculty for the second appeal. The student provides a written statement instead.

How a Student Defense Legal Advisor Can Help

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School takes misconduct by its students seriously. If you're facing an allegation, you should also consider it a serious issue and seek professional assistance from a specialized student defense attorney.

Joseph D. Lento has defended thousands of students across the country and can help you build a solid defense when your law school threatens you with a misconduct accusation. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to get started.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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