Dr. Ronald B. Standler Lawyer in Massachusetts Education Law
c.v.BiographyFeesTechnology LawEducation LawCopyright LawContact
I earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1977, then worked in electrical engineering
research and consulting until 1995, including 10 years as a professor.
I am licensed to practice law in Massachusetts since Dec 1998.
I am admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Massachusetts,
as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.
College and University Law
In part because I was a full-time student in universities for 13 years
and a professor for another 10 years,
I am interested in legal problems that occur in higher education,
copyright law, for example:
copying of books, periodicals, music, or documents on the Internet
by instructors for use in classes
misconduct in scientific research
ownership of intellectual property developed by professors or students
developing rules and policy statements
and other academic issues
I can easily travel to towns in northeastern Massachusetts,
or to the Boston area, including Cambridge, MA.
About Dr. Standler
By way of introduction, I:
earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1977,
was a professor of electrical engineering for ten years,
am the author of more than 30 published technical papers, one book,
and more than 93 scholarly essays on law at my websites,
am an attorney in Massachusetts since December 1998.
I shall personally do all work on my client's case or problem,
so that my client gets the full benefit of my education and experience.
Please note that I concentrate in academic problems in higher-education law
(i.e., law in colleges and universities), however some of the same issues
(e.g., injuries in science laboratories, plagiarism,
copyright infringement, computer acceptable use policy, etc.)
also occur in elementary schools and high schools.
I am willing to consult on these academic problems
in high schools and elementary schools.
Essays on this website are provided only to provide general information
and to communicate my personal comments on interesting topics in
law, technology, and society. Essays on this website are neither
legal advice nor legal opinion. Accessing this website or reading
documents on this website does not create an attorney-client
relationship. See my disclaimer
All essays at this website are protected by copyright.
I have posted my Terms Of Service
for printing, copying, and distributing my essays
at this website.
I am an attorney only in Massachusetts, so I can not provide
legal advice to people in other states of the USA, unless they have been
injured or sued in Massachusetts, or unless your local attorney hires me as a consultant.
However, I have posted the following hints for
how to find an attorney.
academic freedom & freedom of speech for professors
My essay on academic freedom for professors
argues that this "freedom" is not a fundamental right recognized by
law in the USA, but is a contract right granted by colleges and
universities. I have posted a separate essay on
freedom of speech for government employees in
the USA, which discusses the opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court
in the landmark cases of Pickering and Connick v. Myers,
as well as other Supreme Court cases in this area, then briefly
discusses how lower courts have applied these principles to professors
who are employed at state universities.
My third essay in this series,
professional ethics & wrongful discharge
discusses legal protections under state law for learned professionals
(e.g., attorneys, physicians, nurses, engineers, scientists)
whose employment was terminated because the employees
chose to uphold ethical principles of their profession.
My long essay on the law of plagiarism
has many quotations from court cases involving plagiarism
by students or professors, as well as statutes and court cases
involving the sale of term papers, and practical advice to
faculty about how to detect plagiarism.
Colleges can revoke degrees if plagiarism, or other misconduct, is
discovered after a student has graduated.
Law students who work in a practicing attorney's office or for a judge often observe
plagiarism or ghostwriting by attorneys and judges. These law students may be
confused by the absolute prohibition against plagiarism in law school and
the apparent acceptability of plagiarism by some attorneys and judges. My essay
considers different examples of plagiarism or
ghostwriting by attorneys or judges, cites many cases, and suggests
amending the rules of professional responsibility, civil procedure,
and judicial codes of conduct.
injuries in science laboratories
My essay on legal liability for
injuries in school or college
reviews 36 reported cases.
This essay discusses principles of negligence,
legal duty of care by teachers and professors to prevent injury,
the legal duty of instructors to provide first aid,
and other technical legal issues.
This essay also contains a list of cases involving injuries in
a school or college shop class.
misuse of computers
My discussion of issues in preparing a
Computer Acceptable Use Policy
mentions more than twenty substantive issues to consider,
as well as has comments on style of regulations.
Some grieved plaintiffs have alleged that an accrediting association
is a "state actor" and therefore must provide due process.
One section of my essay on possible
by private colleges explains why an accrediting association
is not a state actor and cites relevant cases.
duty of parent to pay for child's college education
A complicated legal problem is discussed in my long essay,
Reimbursement of Educational Expenses at Divorce in the USA,
in which supporting spouses seek reimbursement of educational expenses,
possibly including living expenses too, for their ex-spouses' education
(e.g., medical school, law school, dental school, business school, etc.)
that greatly increased the earning potential of the supported spouses.
academic abstention lack of legal accountability of colleges
My essay on educational malpractice law
discusses this proposed tort that is not allowed by judges in the USA,
but is consistent with traditional principles of tort law.
My essay explains why judges do not allow educational malpractice
My essay on academic abstention
explains a doctrine in the USA that is poorly articulated by judges, in which
judges refuse to review purely academic decisions by schools or colleges.
The consequence of this doctrine is that the school or college always
wins in academic disputes involving grading, expulsion of a student for failure
to maintain minimum academic standards, acceptability of a thesis or
dissertation, etc. I have posted a list of
citations to academic abstention
cases, with a terse quotation from each case.
Because the doctrine of academic abstention prevents judges from hearing
purely academic disputes, there is little an attorney can do after
the hearing(s) and appeal(s) on campus have been exhausted.
For this reason, students should hire an attorney who is knowledgeable
and experienced in higher-education law at the first indication of a problem,
so the attorney can advise the student about a resolution on campus.
The U.S. Supreme Court has distinguished (1) expulsion for academic reasons from
(2) expulsion for disciplinary reasons (e.g., cheating, plagiarism, disruptive behavior, theft,
etc.). When a student is accused of a disciplinary offense,
colleges operated by a state or local government must provide due process,
but the minimum acceptable process does not
include all of the procedural protections in criminal law.
I have written an essay on the legal right of an accused student to have an
at a disciplinary hearing on a college campus.
Courts review disciplinary decisions made by state colleges, but
when a judge finds inadequate due process, the college then provides
more process, and usually the college again obtains the same result.
For this reason,
litigation against a college on due process grounds is generally futile.
Some attorneys have argued that a private college is a "state actor", so that
the private college is required to provide civil liberties, including due process
of law. My essay on possible state action
by private colleges explains why courts have held that private colleges are
not state actors.
Some attorneys have claimed that a professor has a fiduciary duty to students.
My essay reviews the reported cases and explains why the professor-student
relationship is not a
Copyright 2009-2013 by Ronald B. Standler
This document at http://www.rbs2.com/iedu.htm
first posted 14 Jan 2009, version 6 July 2013.