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Professionalism, Ethics, and Academic Honesty

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Sep 30, 2009

As I mentioned in a blog entry earlier this year, we're emphasizing a theme of "Professionalism and Ethics" for the law student body.  Law school and the legal practice are founded on ethics, trust, and respect.

Senior Assistant Dean Hollis Kulwin and Professor Margaret Johns have authored a fascinating paper that addresses academic integrity.  Its title is "Serious Academic Dishonesty in Law School and the Moral Character Requirement for Admission to the Bar."

Here is the abstract:

"Our preliminary research suggested that serious academic dishonesty in law school might be treated confidentially, lightly punished, and withheld from bar examiners in connection with moral character certifications. If such a lax practice were followed, it could compromise the ability of bar examiners to conduct meaningful moral character investigations and might expose clients to the risk of representation by unscrupulous practitioners.

Our project has three aspects. First, to determine whether our impressions were accurate, we conducted a survey of law school administrators responsible for handling disciplinary matters and moral character reporting. This paper reports the results of this survey. Second, we researched the moral character certification process and offer some proposals for reform. Finally, we have suggested future research projects in the hope of generating further investigation and discussion of how law schools and other institutions can better protect the public from dishonest lawyers and improve the integrity of the legal profession."

The paper reaffirms something we already know - that law students must act honorably, as they seek to enter an honorable profession.

Read the paper on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at