Dispute resolution

At UMass Law our goal is to serve the intellectual and, to the extent possible, personal needs of our students. Because we are training future advocates, it is important for students to learn how to become advocates for their own needs.

Our duty is to treat those requests professionally and with dignity and respect.

Requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Students with documented physical and learning disabilities, by law, are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Our staff is prepared to address such requests when provided with proper documentation. We want everyone to have the level playing field mandated by the law. We are committed to honoring the letter and spirit of the law.

Students who feel that they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a documented disability should contact Anne Folino in the Academic Resources and Writing Center at 508.985.1162 or awalshfolino@umassd.edu to set up an appointment. At that meeting, the student will provide recent documentation from a qualified health care provider that describes the functional limitation to learning that the disability creates. If the documentation is not available at the time of the initial meeting, the student will be expected to provide the documentation before any accommodations will be provided. A determination will be made about what accommodations will help the student’s learning environment. No accommodations will be provided unless the student has met with Anne Folino and the requested accommodations have been deemed appropriate and reasonable. More information about ADA accommodations

Students requesting examination accommodations for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) or state bar examinations should know that the interpretations of the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements used by the various bar examining authorities may differ from those used in undergraduate education.

Students are advised to ascertain the testing accommodation standards for each jurisdiction in which they plan to take the bar examination.

Information about testing accommodations for the MPRE and individual state bar examinations

Student Complaints

During the academic year, a variety of issues may arise where a student believes that he or she has been treated poorly or unfairly or may have some other concern. The following list describes a number of different types of concerns and relevant resources. If a student has a concern and is uncertain how to proceed, the student should contact the Director of Student Engagement and Professional Development for assistance. 

Student Complaints Implicating ABA Standards 

Any student wishing to file a formal complaint that may implicate ABA Standards should follow the following procedures.

Submission of Complaint: File a student petition in the LEC, identifying the issue in sufficient detail to permit an investigation into the matter.  All complaints must be written and signed and include the student’s contact information.  The Director of Student Engagement and Professional Development (the “Director”) will acknowledge in writing receipt of the complaint within five business days. 

Initial Investigation: The Director will initially investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint.  If resolution is not possible, the Director will refer the matter to the appropriate administrator, administrative body, or an administrative official designated by the Dean (the “Referral Investigator”), within three weeks of receipt of the complaint.  The Director will communicate resolution of the complaint, or its referral, to the complainant upon such resolution or referral.

Referral Investigation: If referral of the complaint is made as referenced above, the Referral Investigator shall attempt to resolve the complaint as soon as possible, generally no later than three weeks after referral of the complaint.  Upon completion of the referral investigation, the law school will communicate its findings and, if appropriate, any intended actions to the complainant.

Appeals: If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome or resolution of a complaint, the complainant may appeal the decision in writing to the Dean of the law school.  Such appeal must be filed within two weeks of communication to the complainant of the resolution of the complaint.  The Dean’s decision will be communicated in writing to the complainant within three weeks of the time the appeal was filed and shall be final.

Maintenance of Records: The law school shall maintain a written record of each complaint filed and its resolution in the Office of the Director for a period of eight years from the date of the final resolution of the complaint.

Grade Appeals

Students who have questions about their grades should seek to discuss the matter first with the relevant faculty member.  In certain limited circumstances, students may pursue a formal grade appeal.  The process for pursuing a grade appeal is described in § 19 of the UMass Law Student Handbook (2015-2016).

The law school Grade Appeal Officer is Professor Ralph Clifford (ralphclifford@umasslaw.edu) - 508.985.1137.

Student Conduct and Dispute Resolution

The Office of Student Conduct and Dispute Resolution handles complaints for violations of the Student Code of Conduct or other laws and regulations.

The Office of Equal Opportunity, Diversity & Outreach

The Office of Equal Opportunity, Diversity & Outreach deals with equal opportunity and sexual assault/harassment complaints.

UMass Student Rights & Responsibiliites

The rights and responsibilities of UMass students, including students’ rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), are found in the statement of student rights and responsibilities.

Other Complaints

Students with concerns that do not fall within any of the previously described categories should contact the Director of Student Engagement and Professional Development for assistance.


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