Lawyers must adhere to strict ethical and professional standards set by the American Bar Association and state law. To train law students to become upstanding legal professionals, the University of Washington School of Law also holds students to high standards. Honesty and integrity are fundamental to obtaining a law degree from UW, and all students must work toward creating an atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust.
Students who do not act with honesty and integrity may violate the UW School of Law Honor Code. With these violations come serious sanctions, including the possibility of not passing a character and fitness evaluation for the state bar association. An Honor Code violation in law school can prevent you from obtaining internships or clerkships, gaining employment after graduation, or even from earning your law degree.
If you have been accused of academic misconduct at UW Law, you may be concerned for your future as a lawyer. To protect all the efforts and financial resources you've put into becoming a lawyer, consider contacting a student defense attorney-advisor.
Academic Misconduct at UW Law
The Honor Code at UW Law governs academic misconduct and applies to all enrolled law students. The Code lists several actions that are considered violations as well as disciplinary procedures for how to handle alleged cases of academic misconduct. Students at UW Law must also adhere to the University of Washington Student Conduct Code, which applies to all UW students, graduate as well as undergraduate.
Examples of prohibited behavior under the Honor Code
- Knowingly misrepresenting material facts during an Honor Code of Student Conduct Code violation
- Incorporating someone else's work into assignments or exams submitted for academic or professional credit, without citing the original author
- Submitting work for academic or professional credit that was prepared by someone else
- Submitting work used previously for academic or professional credit
- Unauthorized collaboration on academic work
- Using materials during an examination that are not authorized by the instructor
- Taking an exam for another student
- Giving, receiving, or obtaining information about an exam before or during the examination period
- Discussing an exam with students who have not yet taken it
- Taking, keeping, misplacing, or damaging the property of the University or another person, knowing such conduct will obtain an unfair academic advantage
- Misrepresenting facts about oneself or another person to obtain an academic, professional, or financial benefit or to injure another student or employee at UW academically, professionally, or financially
All students receive a copy of the Honor Code when they start courses at UW Law and are expected to know and understand what constitutes a violation of the Honor Code.
UW Law Honor Code Disciplinary Procedures
A substantial portion of the UW Law Honor Code procedures are considered informal, however, accused students should still take this disciplinary process seriously. All reports of alleged Honor Corde violations go to the Dean, who investigates each claim. After the Dean finishes the investigation, they can either dismiss the complaint or decide to initiate the informal disciplinary proceeding. The Dean or the Dean's representative will conduct an informal hearing with the accused student.
At this hearing, the student may respond to the allegations before the Dean takes any actions. The Dean or their representative must also inform the accused student of their alleged misconduct, the specific sections of the Code violated, and the possible sanctions. At this hearing, accused students may not have an outside counsel present with them.
At the conclusion of the informal hearing, the Dean makes one of the following decisions:
- Exonerates the accused student and dismisses the disciplinary proceeding
- Imposes an initial disciplinary sanction
- Refers the matter to the University Disciplinary Committee
- Refers the matter directly to the Faculty Appeal Board
If the Dean decides to impose a sanction, the accused student can appeal. They must request a hearing before the University Disciplinary Committee within 20 calendar days from the date of the Dean's sanction decision. The determination of the University Disciplinary Committee will be final.
At any time during the UW Law disciplinary proceedings, accused students may ask directly for a University Disciplinary Committee hearing. During adjudicative procedures at the university level, students may have an attorney or advisor present with them at hearings.
Potential Sanctions for Honor Code Violations
For a violation of the Honor Code or Student Conduct Code, the Dean can impose one or more of the following authorized sanctions:
- Disciplinary warning or reprimand: A warning in writing that states continuation or repetition of conduct will merit more serious sanctions
- Restitution: Paying for damage or other loss of property and injury to persons
- Disciplinary probation: Formal conditions imposed on the student's continued attendance at UW Law
- Suspension: Formal absence from attendance at UW Law for a definite period of time
- Dismissal: Student's enrollment at UW Law is terminated
- Forfeiture: Forfeiting state-funded grants, scholarships, and awards (only if misconduct involved hazing)
- Any sanction allowed by the Student Conduct Code (including disciplinary probation and loss of privileges in addition to the sanctions previously listed)
Students may only receive a suspension or dismissal after a formal due process review.
How a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help
If you can't have an attorney-advisor present at your informal hearing with the Dean, how can having counsel help you in an Honor Code violation case at UW Law? A legal advisor specialized in student defense against academic misconduct charges can help you prepare your defense and your statement for the Dean. They can also review all the relevant school policies to ensure the Dean and other University staff are upholding your rights throughout the disciplinary process.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a student defense legal specialist who has helped hundreds of graduate students nationwide in academic and personal misconduct cases. If your future as a lawyer is on the line, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.