Student Defense: Vermont Law and Graduate School

Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) is a private law school established in 1972 in South Royalton, Vermont. The law school offers multiple degrees and study programs for aspiring law students, including the Juris Doctor, Master of Laws, and dual and joint degrees. VLGS has multiple law and research institutes, such as its Environmental Law Center, the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, and the Environmental Tax Policy Institute. Upon graduation, students can look forward to many high-quality job opportunities due to VLGS's reputation for excellence.

As a prospective lawyer, your training starts in law school. Because law school is so rigorous and takes years of effort, the pressure to succeed is high. Your instructors and professors understand that this is your first milestone in becoming a professional and expect mistakes to happen. Yet not all errors are similar – some have significant repercussions that may lead to graduation delays or even the loss of your degree. If you face accusations of academic misconduct at VLGS, you must speak to an experienced advisor who understands the stakes.

Student Handbook and Honor Code

The student handbook maintains that students have a responsibility to follow and abide by the honor code or face penalties. Academic misconduct offenses are Class One Violations in the manual and have heavy repercussions. Additionally, the statement of principles mentions that the law school is a community that includes adults and professionals who commit themselves to the principles of integrity to encourage academic freedom.

The following actions are Class One and Two violations as per the student handbook:

Class One

  • Plagiarism: This violation happens when a law student appropriates another person's work and presents it as their effort. Another form of this offense is when a student paraphrases an original author's work without clearly attributing the source.
  • Breaching Exam Security Protocols: Students must not invade the law school's security measures to prepare and store examinations.
  • Using Unauthorized Materials: If a student is taking an examination or conducting an academic exercise, they must take permission from the professor before using any items.
  • Cheating: When students cheat, they gain an unfair academic advantage over their peers. Students must not give, receive, or obtain information from others when taking a test or completing an academic exercise.
  • Discussing Exam Content: Law students must not discuss the contents of an exam with another student who did not take it yet. The law school considers this action endangering examination security and prosecutes violators harshly.
  • Multiple Submissions: If a law student prepares material or an instructor, they cannot reuse this information or assignment with another instructor unless they receive permission.

Class Two

  • Students must not make false statements to faculty or administrative members of VLGS
  • Law students must respect library property and not remove, deface, or mutilate materials and documents
  • All students must refrain from obstructing the Honor Code process
  • No student may partake in activities that the Vice Dean of Students or Honor Committee believe are indicative of a lack of fitness to practice law

Students who violate these terms face multiple sanctions that negatively affect their progress and graduation prospects. Accusers must prove that the student acted knowingly and present clear and convincing evidence that the accused committed a violation.

Investigation and Hearing Process

If someone believes a student committed an honor code violation, they must report it to the Vice Dean for Students. Within 15 days of receiving the complaint, the Vice Dean informs the accused of the allegations and may assign an advocate for them. During this time, the investigation process commences determining whether a hearing is necessary. After the investigation ends, the Vice Dean decides whether to move on to a hearing with the Honor Committee. Or he may dismiss the case due to a lack of evidence.

During the hearing, the Honor Committee hears statements and collects documents and evidence about the case. Once the meeting ends, the panel members deliberate and decide on possible sanctions for the violation. The members then create a report justifying their reason for the decision and send copies to the accused, the President, and the Dean of the Law School.

Appeals

Accused students have the right to appeal the Honor Committee's decision to the President and Dean of the Law School. The latter informs the Honor Committee of the appeal, receives a recording of the taped hearing session, and reviews the evidence linked to the case.

The President and Dean of the Law School also schedule a meeting with the student and their counsel. The purpose of the conference is for the accused to present their argument. They have the final say when overturning the sanctions decision and may alter, modify, or reject the committee's decision.

Sanctions for Class One and Class Two Violations

VLGS imposes sanctions depending on the violation class. As per the handbook, Class One Violations come with the following sanctions:

  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Withdrawal of an awarded degree

As for Class Two violations, sanctions are less severe and include:

  • A verbal or written warning
  • A fine
  • Placing the student on probation
  • Notation on a student's permanent record

Sanctions negatively affect a student's reputation and may prevent them from becoming lawyers due to suspension or expulsion. If you face this at VLGS, it's time to speak to a professional.

Contacting an Attorney-Advisor

Whether you're facing minor or significant sanctions, you need the help of a professional who understands the gravity of your situation.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento works nationwide with students and honor committees to try to reach an agreeable solution. With years of experience and a specialization in student defense, Attorney-Advisor Lento is a shoulder to rely on when everything seems complicated and hopeless.

You are a law student, and mistakes happen. Don't sit idle and leave your future in the hands of administrators. Every minute is essential when it's your law degree on the line.

If you face accusations of academic dishonesty and misconduct at VLGS, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for a thorough review of your case.

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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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