Academic Discipline


Academic Discipline

When a college or university student gets in trouble, they may be arrested and face consequences in court, but they may also be subject to discipline through their school.  Whether you are fighting on two fronts or only one, we can help.

School discipline cases are very different from criminal cases, even though they can be based on the same alleged conduct.  In the college or university case, there is no judge, and no formal rules of evidence.  The case is usually heard by a staff member from the Dean of Students or Student Conduct Office, or someone with a similar title.  These officials may have no formal legal training and may have many different responsibilities besides student conduct hearings.  In criminal court, the accused has constitutional rights and legal procedures to protect them, but in the school discipline case there may be no “presumption of innocence” or “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Instead of the rights of the accused, the focus may be on the safety and reputation of the college community.

Attorney Andrew Piltser Cowan knows academic discipline very well.  As a law student, he served as vice-chair of Cornell University’s Codes and Judicial Committee during a time when that committee was completely rewriting Cornell’s disciplinary code.  Through that process, he made connections with numerous school officials and learned what the disciplinary process looks like from their perspective.  As an attorney, he has represented students at academic disciplinary hearings throughout Massachusetts, from Boston University to Westfield State, often obtaining favorable results that allowed the student to stay in school, or withdraw in lieu of discipline without a black mark on their record so that they could continue their education elsewhere.

Fees for academic discipline cases are hourly, and the total cost depends on the factual complexity of the allegations as well as the school involved and how far the process goes.  You can expect a final cost of $3,000 – $5,000 at a minimum.

If you are facing an Academic Discipline hearing in Massachusetts, give us a call at 617-906-6268 to schedule a free consultation.

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