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How to Deal With a Law School Bully

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By George Khoury, Esq. on September 22, 2017 6:57 AM

Bullying has changed quite a bit since the start of the internet age. While bullies used to have to depend on their physical stature, with social media being as prevalent as it is today, anyone can be a bully (a cyberbully, at least).

Whereas all you needed to do before, according to every sitcom and after-school special, was stand up to the bully, and they'd back down, that's not necessarily the case in real life. If you find yourself dealing with a bully in law school, below you'll find some helpful tips.

Try Being Lawyerly First

Before telling a professor or administrator, try to end the bullying through talking directly with the bully, baby-lawyer to baby-lawyer. After all, you're learning to become a lawyer, and lawyers are supposed to be able to resolve conflicts. In a somewhat public setting, politely ask the bully why they are doing what they are doing, preferably do this when you have a friend or two who can politely call them out if they try to avoid or deny the question. Minimally, make sure there is a neutral witness or two who is actually listening.

Try School Sponsored Mediation

Some schools will offer reconciliation type mediation sessions to help resolve disputes between students. These can sometimes be helpful for resolving conflicts. Minimally, it will put your bully on notice that you plan to do what's necessary if the bullying continues, including putting their ability to graduate and get licensed at risk. Make it about moral character and professionalism.

Report Up the Chain of Command

Bullying is serious and can lead to serious consequences, and injuries, for the victims. If it is happening in law school, the bully should be disciplined by the school for unprofessional conduct. After all, nearly every law school has a code of conduct that mirrors the model rules of professional conduct for lawyers, as law schools are in the business of making lawyers. Start by reporting it to a professor you share a class with. If a professor does not do anything to stop the bully, or worse, encourages or assists the bully, going up the chain of command at your school may be the next step.

While you can talk to a school counselor to discuss your emotional well being, they may not be very effective advocates for forcing the school to step in. However, speaking with a higher ranking administrator, like the dean of students, could prove helpful.

Last Resort: Take Legal Action

Seriously, nothing will ruin a law school bully's day more than finding out there is a police investigation into their actions. The moral character and fitness review they're going to be going through before being licensed will likely want to know more about it.

If they've violated any laws, such as by engaging in cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, assault, or battery, then you can call the police. If their conduct is frightening, consider getting a restraining order. If they're spreading lies about you to classmates, professors, or potential employers, you can file a defamation claim.

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