Student Defense – University of Tennessee College of Law

At the University of Tennessee College of Law (UT Law), students must adhere to minimum standards of integrity, fairness, and equal opportunity. The law school expects professionalism from students at all times as well and believes in self-regulation when it comes to upholding ethical standards. As an institution preparing law students to become legal professionals, UT Law takes these values seriously and encourages students to live up to these ideals as well.

Students who do not adhere to the professional and academic standards of conduct that UT Law expects may face disciplinary action. With a notation of misconduct on their law school record, students may struggle to find employment or pass their character and fitness evaluation with the state bar association. UT Law may also be required to report misconduct to any state bar association.

If UT Law has accused you of misconduct, your future as a lawyer could be in jeopardy. Consider contacting an experienced attorney-advisor for help.

Student Misconduct at UT Law

At UT Law, students must follow the Code of Academic Conduct. This Code establishes the minimum standards for integrity, honesty, and fairness in academic and professional matters pertaining to the law school. It also provides rules for how to deal with suspected violations of the Code.

Examples of Academic and Professional Misconduct at UT Law

  • Misrepresenting a fact or failing to state a fact in circumstances pertaining to any academic matter
  • Sequestering, mutilating, destroying, or using without permission the books or work product of another student
  • Sequestering, mutilating, or destroying library materials
  • Acquiring or attempting to acquire a copy of any examination without the permission of the instructor
  • Using or attempting to use materials other than those specifically authorized by the instructor for an examination
  • Providing or acquiring information or assistance when specifically prohibited from doing so by the instructor
  • Copying the exam answer of another student
  • Cheating
  • Plagiarism
  • Giving or receiving information or assistance when prohibited from doing so on a writing assignment
  • Obstructing the administration of the Code of Academic Conduct by sequestering, mutilating, or destroying relevant materials
  • Refusing to provide relevant information to a Code of Academic Conduct investigation when asked to do so.

How UT Law Handles Misconduct

At UT Law, an Academic Review Board has jurisdiction over suspected violations of the Code of Academic Conduct. This Board is responsible for hearing cases and imposing sanctions (with the approval of the Dean of the College of Law) for students found guilty of a violation. The Academic Review Board consists of a non-voting chairperson, three voting faculty members, and three voting students.


The disciplinary process starts when the Dean receives an allegation of misconduct in writing. The Dean may either dismiss the allegation or decide there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation occurred. If the Dean does not dismiss the allegation, they will refer it to the Dean of Students, who acts as prosecutor of the case, and the Academic Review Board for a hearing.


The Academic Review Board schedules a hearing and must notify the accused student 72 hours in advance. The accused student also receives a written notice of the charge and the name of any witness to the misconduct. Accused students may present witnesses and can choose to testify or remain silent. They can also have assistance from the counsel of their choice.

The burden of proof lies with the law school to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the accused student has committed the alleged act of academic dishonesty. Both the accused student and the prosecutor can cross-examine witnesses as well.


After the accused student and prosecutor have presented all evidence and questioned witnesses, the Academic Review Board deliberates privately. The Board must only take the evidence presented at the hearing into account; it cannot mention an accused student's previous disciplinary record. If the Board decides the student is guilty of a Code of Academic Conduct violation, however, it can have access to the student's disciplinary record to recommend a sanction.


Students found guilty by the Academic Review Board at UT Law may appeal to the Student Affairs Council, which is the final decision-making board of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. To appeal, students must submit a written request for appeal to the Dean of Students within seven days of the Academic Review Board's decision. The Student Affairs Council's decision is subject to review by the Chancellor and the President of the University of Tennessee.

Instructor Penalties

Students at UT Law may also face penalties from their instructors for suspected cases of academic dishonesty. Instructors may:

  • Suspend a student from their class
  • Refuse to allow a student to take an exam
  • Lower a student's grade
  • Assign a grade of 0.0 on an assignment or exam
  • Assign a grade of 0.0 in the course

Students may appeal these penalties from law school instructors by first discussing the matter with the instructor. Then, they can meet with the Dean, and if the matter is still not resolved, they can take it to the Academic Review Board.

Potential Sanctions

UT Law students found guilty of Code of Academic Conduct violations may face one or more of the following sanctions:

  • Loss of privileges
  • Disciplinary reprimand
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Suspension for a specific period of time
  • Indefinite suspension
  • Permanent dismissal

Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?

If you have been accused of academic misconduct at UT Law, you may have an attorney-advisor present with you at your hearing and at every stage of the disciplinary process. An advisor experienced in student discipline will be able to help you prepare your defense, identify witnesses, and gather evidence. Ultimately, an experienced advisor solely dedicated to your cause will help you work towards a fair process the best possible outcome.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of law students nationwide with misconduct issues at their colleges and universities. If you want to protect your future as a lawyer, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

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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