Student Defense – University of Pittsburgh, School of Law

Students at the University of Pittsburgh have certain rights and responsibilities that come with being a member of the University and law school communities. The School of Law at Pitt obliges all its students to carry out academic assignments with honesty and respect for the ethical standards of the legal profession.

Law students at Pitt who do not act with integrity in academic matters will face disciplinary action. This action could result in severe sanctions and hold up a student's progress toward earning a law degree. An instance of academic misconduct on a student's record may also make it challenging to obtain clerkships or employment. Pitt Law may also have to report violations of standards of academic integrity to state bar associations, which could hinder a student's ability to pass the character and fitness evaluation required to become a practicing lawyer.

If you are a Pitt Law student with an allegation of academic misconduct against you, your future as a lawyer may be in jeopardy. An experienced student defense attorney-advisor can help.

Student Misconduct at Pitt Law

At Pitt Law, all students must follow the Standards of Academic Integrity, which apply to all academic endeavors. Non-academic issues are covered by the law school's Student Code of Conduct. In addition to these law school-specific policies, students must also adhere to the University of Pittsburgh Guidelines on Academic Integrity.

Examples of Academic Misconduct

The Pitt Law Standards of Academic Integrity list behaviors that count as a violation, although the list is not exclusive:

  • Possessing materials or employing devices not authorized by the instructor during an academic evaluation
  • Providing or receiving assistance during an academic evaluation that the instructor does not authorize
  • Possessing, buying, selling, obtaining, or using a copy of any materials used to evaluate exams or academic exercises
  • Acting as or utilizing a substitute for someone else in an academic evaluation process
  • Acting in a deceitful manner during an academic evaluation proceeding
  • Attempting override constraints imposed by examination software
  • Collaborating with others on an academic evaluation in a way expressly prohibited by the instructor
  • Presenting the ideas, representations, or words of another person as one's own for academic credit
  • Attempting to influence or change one's academic evaluation or record for reasons other than achievement or merit
  • Indulging in disruptive conduct to infringe upon the rights of the instructor or fellow students
  • Failing to cooperate in the investigation or disposition of any allegation of dishonesty pertaining to a fellow student
  • Mutilating, taking, or sequestering library materials for one's own benefit or to the detriment of others
  • Continuing to write after the end of an exam
  • Falsifying or misrepresenting academic records on an employment application made through the law school
  • Falsifying or misrepresenting information pertaining to admission to the law school
  • Signing another student's name to an attendance sheet

How Does Pitt Law Handle Misconduct?

Any student, faculty member, or staff personnel may allege that a student has violated the Standards of Academic Integrity to the Associate Dean. The Dean informs the accused student and allows the student to respond. The Dean may try to resolve the issue informally with the student at this stage.


If there's no informal resolution acceptable to all parties, the Associate Dean files written charges against the student with the Office of the Dean. If the Dean finds probable cause that the student violated the Standards of Academic Integrity and the sanctions may be expulsion, suspension, or a permanent record notation, they refer the matter to a Hearing Board. Hearing Boards include three faculty members.

Accused students have the right to have an advisor of their choosing present with them at all appearances before the Hearing Board. The accused student may testify, present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses during the hearing. These proceedings use a clear and convincing standard of evidence. The Hearing Board arrives at a decision at the end of the hearing and, if the student is guilty of violating the Standards of Academic Integrity, recommends a sanction.


Students may ask for a review of the Hearing Board's decision under the University of Pittsburgh Guidelines on Academic Integrity. These rules allow students to appeal a dean's decision to the University Provost or the University Review Board. The Provost and Review Board consult concerning the appeal, so students or faculty may submit their appeal to either one. The decision of the Provost or University Review Board is final.

Potential Sanctions for Academic Misconduct at Pitt Law

The Dean may only impose the following sanctions on students who have violated the Standards of Academic Integrity at Pitt Law:

  • Dismissal from the University without readmission (expulsion)
  • Suspension from the University
  • “Dismissal from the department in which the offense occurred and exclusion from courses offered in that department” either “permanently or for a stated period of time”
  • “Dismissal from the course in which the offense occurred, with or without the opportunity” to re-enroll
  • “Reduction in grade, or assignment of a failing grade in the course in which the” offense occurred
  • “Reduction in grade, or assignment of a failing grade on the paper or” exam in which the offense occurred

Consulting a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor

If you're facing an allegation of academic misconduct at Pitt Law, how can an attorney-advisor help? A legal advisor with experience guiding students through the disciplinary processes of their law schools and universities can let you know what to expect. They can also help you prepare your defense, collect evidence, gather witnesses, and advise you when you go in front of the Hearing Board. With a qualified student defense advocate by your side, you stand a better chance of getting a favorable outcome on your case.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of law students across the country with their academic misconduct cases, and he can help you protect your future as a lawyer. Contact 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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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