Student Defense – Wake Forest University School of Law

Wake Forest University holds all students to high standards of academic, moral, and professional integrity. At Wake Forest University School of Law, law students must not only behave according to university-wide standards but must also demonstrate their ethical and professional ability to be practicing lawyers. Lawyers are invested with public trust and so must conduct themselves ethically and honestly. Lawyers in training at Wake Forest Law are no exception.

Law students who do not meet these standards may face consequences for their actions. Wake Forest Law does not take matters of academic or professional misconduct lightly and will not hesitate to place sanctions on law students who do not live up to the school's values. Law students not only have sanctions from their law school to fear but also repercussions that could jeopardize their careers as lawyers. An academic or professional misconduct incident could prevent the state bar association from granting a law graduate their license on the basis that they do not meet the moral character standards the bar association expects.

If you are a Wake Forest Law student with an accusation of misconduct, know that your school will launch formal disciplinary proceedings against you. To prevent a misconduct determination from ruining your career as a lawyer, consider contacting a specialized student defense attorney-advisor to assist you.

Student Misconduct at Wake Forest Law

All the standards of behavior that Wake Forest Law students must follow are in the Student Handbook, which is published for each school year. The Handbook contains the school's Honor Code, Student Code of Conduct, and other policies regarding student behavior.

According to the Honor Code, all students and faculty have a responsibility to promote an atmosphere of academic integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, and respect for others. The Honor Code applies to all students enrolled at Wake Forest Law.

Prohibited Conduct Under the Wake Forest Law Honor Code

  • Lying
  • Cheating
  • Plagiarism
  • Submitting work for multiple purposes
  • Abuse of library privileges
  • Stealing
  • Abuse of shared electronic media
  • Failure to comply with an affirmative duty to report knowledge of Honor Code violations

If a student is ignorant of the prohibited conduct under the Wake Forest Law Honor Code, it is not a defense. Students are still subject to the disciplinary procedures of the Honor Code, as it's their responsibility to read and understand the Honor Code before the start of each term.

How Wake Forest Law Handles Misconduct Cases

Wake Forest Law has an Honor Council that deals with Honor Code violations. The Honor Council's members come from the third-year, second-year, and first-year JD students, as well as the LLM/SJD, and MSL students. New members are elected each year. The Honor Council can hear cases and make determinations of academic dishonesty without any faculty involvement. However, a grading professor has the right to start their own academic inquiry and issue a penalty once the Honor Council has completed its proceedings.

The formal procedure following a violation of the Wake Forest Law Honor Code consists of three phases. The first is a preliminary hearing, followed by a charge hearing, then an appeals procedure.

Preliminary Hearing

The Chair of the Honor Council receives any report of academic dishonesty at Wake Forest Law. The Chair then refers the matter to a student Solicitor, who investigates the accusation. The Solicitor must notify the accused student of the allegation and, if the case moves to a preliminary hearing, their rights at the hearing. Accused students may have either an Honor Council representative or another Wake Forest Law student representative—they cannot have outside counsel at the Preliminary or Charge Hearings.

The accused student will go before the Preliminary Hearing Panel, consisting of the officers of the Honor Council and three faculty members. The Solicitor will present the results of their investigation to the Panel, and the accused student may respond with evidence. After hearing both sides, the Preliminary Hearing Panel will make a decision within 24 hours as to whether the case moves to a Charge Hearing.

Charge Hearing

At the Charge Hearing, the accused student will go before a Jury consisting of six voting Honor Council members. The accused student can elect for either a private or public hearing, however, the administration will record the hearing either way. Only the Jury, Secretary preparing the summary report, and Dean will see the recording. The Charge Hearing proceeds in the following steps:

  1. Solicitor's arguments
  2. Accused student's defense
  3. Closing arguments

Both sides may present evidence and question all witnesses during the Charge Hearing. After closing arguments, the Jury deliberates privately; five votes must be in favor of guilt for a guilty determination of academic dishonesty. If the accused student is guilty, the Jury reconvenes for a sanction hearing to deliberate on an appropriate sanction.


Students may appeal a guilty decision to full-time residential faculty within 3 days of the Jury's sanction decision. The faculty has 14 days to decide and give their recommendation to the Dean, whose determination and imposition of sanctions are final.

Possible Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

The only acceptable sanctions for academic dishonesty at Wake Forest Law are:

  • Notice
  • Reprimand
  • Probation
  • Restitution
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?

When you are accused of academic dishonesty by Wake Forest Law, you must go through formal Honor Code procedures if you want a chance at a favorable outcome. If you have little experience with such disciplinary proceedings at educational institutions, you may feel overwhelmed. In addition, law school disciplinary proceedings are a unique animal characterized by intense and rigourous proceedings with everything at stake for an accused student. An attorney-advisor specialized in law student defense can analyze the allegations and evidence against you with the Honor Code and conduct policies at Wake Forest Law in mind and help you prepare your defense.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped countless law students nationwide with academic and professional misconduct cases. If your future career as a lawyer is at stake, call 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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