Student Defense: Western State College of Law at Westcliff University

Western State College of Law (WSC Law) is a private, for-profit law school established in Orange County in 1966. WSC Law offers students flexibility with its full-time and part-time programs and certificates in immigration law, real estate, and family law. WSC Law is one of the nation's most diverse law schools, a title that earned it awards by both the US News & World Report and National Jurist's Best Law School list.  

Students who attend WSC Law must demonstrate high ethical principles befitting their future professions as attorneys. Although mistakes happen – as do lapses in judgment – some violations are more severe than others. These infarctions can lead to sanctions that include suspension and expulsion regardless of the student's progress. Without the help of an attorney-advisor, students face graduation delays and risk losing their time, effort, and money after a hearing.  

Violating the Student Code 

According to WSC Law's Student Handbook, academic misconduct is a form of prohibited conduct that falls under the jurisdiction of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Honor Code Committee. While not an exhaustive list, actions listed as violations include: 

  • Preventing the completion of an assignment by a student or administrator 
  • Retaining copies of examinations and distributing them to students 
  • Continuing with an exam after the time ends 
  • Exchanging information about test questions with other students unless expressly authorized by the instructor 
  • Taking pictures or notes during an exam about the contents of a test or essay question on an exam 
  • Performing an academic exercise for another student 
  • Using materials and Law School property during an exam without the permission of the administrator 
  • Deliberately or excessively disturbing the concentration of others who are taking examinations 
  • Using material from books, notes, or class without permission 
  • Misidentifying oneself on purpose 
  • Invading administrative security 
  • Submitting work that is plagiarized or paraphrased 
  • Submitting recycled work to an instructor without authorization 
  • Falsifying attendance sheets and other administrative documents 
  • Defacing or destroying equipment or the law school's library materials 
  • Violating the computer use policy established by the college of law  
  • Violating borrowing privileges 

The penalties for academic misconduct are swift and severe. If a professor believes that a student committed a violation, they assign an “XF” grade. However, if accused students wish to contest this grade and allegation, they must stand before the Honor Council.  

Investigation Process at WSC Law  

Once the Honor Code Committee Chair receives a complaint, they schedule a meeting with the Honor Code Committee members to assign pre-interview investigation tasks. During this phase, the committee may ask to interview the person making the complaint and their witnesses and collect documents and evidence that help them determine whether violations occurred.  

After ten days, the committee members prepare a fact-finding report and schedule an interview with the student. The discussion serves as the adjudication procedure, as there is no “hearing” for academic misconduct. The student may have either parents or an adviser present during the interview. However, the student may not have legal counsel represent them or interfere with the process. 

After the committee gathers the information and witness statements, they decide on the matter within 60 days, depending on the violation and case complexity.  

Appeal to the Dean  

The Honor Code Committee's decision is final. However, students do have the ability to appeal to the Dean to overturn sanctions for clemency. After the Dean reviews the details of the case, they make a final decision regarding the appeal request and send it to the student in writing. Students must send the appeal within 14 days of receiving the committee's decision. 

Sanctions for Academic Misconduct 

The severity of WSC law sanctions for academic misconduct depends on multiple factors. The committee considers the student's behavioral history, previous offenses, and the severity of the violation to make their final decision. According to the Student Handbook, the possible penalties for academic misconduct violations include: 

  • A grade of XF, which stays on the student's transcript with a notation of “failure due to academic dishonesty.” 
  • An admonition or warning by the administrator 
  • A written reprimand or censure 
  • Counseling 
  • An academic penalty that includes redoing the work, receiving a low grade, or a whole or partial withdrawal of credit 
  • Disciplinary probation 
  • Temporary or permanent suspension of rights and privileges as a college of law student 
  • A fine, including the suspension or revocation of existing futures scholarship offers 
  • Permanent separation from the university  

The sanctions listed in the student handbook have debilitating consequences for future attorneys. Even if the student can find a new law school, they may need to start from the beginning, erasing years of time and effort spent studying for their law degree. However, in the case of a permanent suspension, many law schools will reject the student's application altogether due to the student's negative past. 

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor  

Even if students cannot have legal counsel during the interview with the Honor Code Committee, they can still benefit from a legal professional's experience. Even if the student is innocent, misrepresentation, bias, and procedural errors can cloud the panel's judgment. With financial and reputational consequences, students must work with a professional who understands what they're going through and specializes in student defense. 

Attorney Advisor Joseph D. Lento understands what you're going through, as a law student facing issues or as a concerned parent. With years of experience working with panels and students nationwide, Attorney-Advisor Lento helps decrease the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome.  

You spent a considerable amount of energy, time, and effort in your attempt to graduate with a law degree. By working with a professional like Attorney-Advisor Lento, you can negotiate for a fairer and less degree-threatening result. Don't let one mistake or lapse in judgment end your dreams and ambitions of becoming a lawyer.  

If you or someone you love face accusations of academic misconduct at WSC Law, don't delay. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 for a no-nonsense, transparent consultation.  

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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