At the University of Alabama School of Law, student honesty, integrity, and transparency are paramount. Alabama Law is preparing students to enter the legal profession, a career that requires ethical behavior and adherence to national and state standards of conduct. To ensure law students understand this responsibility before they become practicing attorneys, Alabama Law seeks to instill ethical and honest principles in its students. Furthermore, any form of academic or professional misconduct injures the entire law school community, the law school's reputation, and the institution's academic integrity.
For these reasons, Alabama Law takes misconduct seriously. Students who do not comply with ethical standards of behavior will face disciplinary action and further consequences that could jeopardize their legal careers. Students may have to inform employers about gaps in their education or sanctions imposed by the law school. It may also be difficult for students to pass their character and fitness evaluations with their state bar associations if they have an incident of academic misconduct on their school record.
If Alabama Law has accused you of academic misconduct, know that your future as a lawyer may be at risk. Consider contacting an experienced student defense attorney-advisor for help.
Student Misconduct at Alabama Law
The University of Alabama School of Law has an Honor Council that oversees all matters relating to academic misconduct, including administering the Honor Code. As soon as students enroll in Alabama Law, they are subject to the Honor Code and must understand its contents and their duties as students.
Academic misconduct pertains to all academic matters, which includes all activities related to coursework and non-classroom activities such as:
- Competition for journal membership
- Trial and appellate advocacy teams
- Other similar activities
Examples of Academic Misconduct
The Honor Code at Alabama Law prohibits the following conduct:
- Using the words or ideas of another without proper attribution
- Receiving unauthorized assistance or using unauthorized materials during an exam
- Violating the rules of an exam or other academic exercise
- Submitting substantially the same work for academic credit in more than one course
- Falsifying or misrepresenting information related to academic matters to the Honor Council, law school faculty and staff, employers, bar examiners, or other academic institutions
- Acting to create an unfair competitive advantage over other students in academic matters
- Facilitating, permitting, or tolerating any acts of academic misconduct prohibited by the Honor Code
The Disciplinary Process for Academic Misconduct at Alabama Law
The Honor Council at Alabama Law consists of three faculty members appointed by the Dean and four students appointed by the Student Bar Association. In addition to educating the student body about academic integrity, the Honor Council resolves allegations of misconduct. Law school students, faculty members, and administrators must report suspected violations of the Honor Code to the Honor Council, which will investigate the matter.
The Honor Council will conduct a thorough investigation of all allegations of academic misconduct it receives. During the investigation, the accused student has the right to know the allegation against them and appear before the Council to make their case. Accused students may not have outside counsel represent them when they go before the Honor Council.
Decision by the Council
Once the investigation is over, the Honor Council will deliberate and determine if the accused student is guilty of academic misconduct. Decisions are made by a simple majority vote. If the student is guilty, the Council will also decide on any sanctions and report the decision to the Dean's office.
Students found guilty of academic misconduct have ten days to file an appeal with the Dean after the issuance of the Honor Council's decision. Students who do not request an appeal within ten days accept the Council's decision as final.
The grounds for appeal include:
- Denial of any rights afforded to the student under the Honor Code
- Existence of newly-discovered information
- Allegation that the Council's decision or sanctions are unsupported by the weight of the information
The Dean may reinvestigate the facts of the case and either affirm, reverse, or modify the Council's decision and sanctions. The Dean's decision will be final. If the Dean orders the Council to reconsider the case, however, the results of the Council's reconsideration will be final.
Possible Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
If the Honor Council at Alabama Law determines a student is guilty of academic misconduct, it will decide on an appropriate sanction by majority vote. Possible sanctions include but are not limited to:
- Correction of academic work
- Letter of reprimand
- A grade of “F”
- Indefinite suspension
- A combination of any of the above sanctions
The Council must take mitigating and aggravating circumstances into account when deciding a sanction. Mitigating circumstances could include whether the action was intentional or unintentional, or if the accused student has admitted to the violation. Examples of aggravating circumstances would be lying during the Council's investigation or otherwise obstructing the disciplinary process.
How Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?
If you face an academic misconduct charge from the University of Alabama Law School, you may feel overwhelmed and concerned for your future. Without prior experience or knowledge of disciplinary processes at higher education institutions, you may not know what to expect. An attorney-advisor who has helped law students with academic misconduct charges can guide you through the process and help you build a defense. Your legal advisor can coach you on what to say and how to present yourself before the Honor Council and ensure the law school is upholding the rights guaranteed to you by the Honor Code and other student behavior policies.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped law students nationwide with discipline charges and can assist you with your case at Alabama Law. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to help safeguard your future as a lawyer.