Academic Regulations

The College of Law is an academic and professional institution integrally connected to the academic community of Northern Illinois University and closely tied to the organized profession of law. The members of the College, faculty, and students have adopted this Rule of Professional Conduct to recognize within the College the academic and professional values of the larger communities of which we are a part. The Rule is a mandatory rule of conduct, violations of which may subject a member to appropriate sanctions. Mindful that no rules of conduct are completely self-executing, all members of the College community should give serious attention not only to their individual obligations to comply with the Rule, but also to their collective responsibility for ensuring compliance and initiating any necessary enforcement.

With respect to the substantive content of the mandatory rule, Clause One incorporates the general professional rule on honesty and trustworthiness as well as a prohibition of all forms of academic misconduct. Without limiting the reach of the foregoing, academic misconduct includes plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, the use of unauthorized material in connection with any paper or examination, misuse of materials, to include the secreting of library resources or the unauthorized use of library resources such as computerized research facilities, and other forms of academic misconduct. Other forms of dishonest conduct beyond what is usually thought of as academic would include, for example, misrepresentation in law school admissions proceedings or misrepresentations in connection with seeking professional employment.

Beyond dishonesty and academic misconduct, society has identified other conduct that interferes with community needs and may violate the dignity and rights of other people. Clause Two addresses such conduct, although the reference is to the proscribed behavior as such, and does not presuppose any formal adjudication of criminality or illegality. While members of the College are, of course, personally answerable to the entire criminal law, they are professionally answerable within the College only for conduct that indicates lack of those characteristics relevant to membership in this academic and professional community-"fitness to practice law" in this formulation. Certain kinds of conduct may be offensive to some, but may only reflect immaturity, inappropriate responses to the pressures of professional education, or simply the diversity of ages and background of community members. When combined with legally proscribed conduct, however, such as destruction of property or harassing use of the telephone or the mails, and when engaged in with disregard for the dignity and rights of others, such conduct may raise serious questions of professional character, fitness, and continued membership in the academic and professional community, questions appropriate for a community response. On the other hand, some criminalized conduct raises no direct implication of dishonesty, disregard for individual dignity and rights, or fitness to practice law in other respects and is, accordingly, not appropriate for community sanction. This part of the Rule seeks to limit sanctions to conduct directly relevant to the College's academic and professional goals.

The Rule, like all rules, is one of reason. It should be interpreted and applied in light of this Comment, which is an integral part of the Rule, and in view of the Rule and Comment's purpose--the maintenance and development of a thriving academic and professional community. Sanctions and procedures for enforcement raise separate questions not addressed by the Rule. Further, it is noted that conduct in violation of this Rule may also violate other rules, such as those embodied in the Judicial Code of Northern Illinois and law generally. Likewise, some conduct not covered by this Rule may be covered by the University Judicial Code or other law. While a certain emphasis on questions of deviations from the Rule is inevitable, the larger spirit behind the Rule should always be kept in mind: namely, the creation at the College of a community of scholars and lawyers committed to the best traditions and values of academic pursuits and the profession of law.