An Econometric Analysis of North Carolina's Legislative Right to Counsel

47 Journal of Law & Education 489-510 (2018)

22 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2018 Last revised: 13 Dec 2018

See all articles by Adam Ross Nelson

Adam Ross Nelson

University of Wisconsin Madison

CJ Ryan

Roger Williams University School of Law; American Bar Foundation

Date Written: January 19, 2018


Misconduct on campus often leads students to encounter a quasi-judicial university disciplinary process. This study analyzes the effect of N.C. GEN. STAT. §116-40.11(a) (2015), which allows students to be represented by counsel in these proceedings, on the number of disciplinary referrals for alleged campus conduct violations committed by students in University of North Carolina System schools. We use two approaches to estimate effects. First, we use state-level synthetic comparison methods. Second, we use institution-level difference-in-differences estimation.

The results from this study provide evidence that statutory regulation of student conduct administration in North Carolina may have unexpectedly altered the number of alcohol and illicit substance related referrals to campus disciplinary processes. While referral rates dropped, there is evidence suggesting student behaviors tend to remain constant. We propose these results evidence that administrators may have adjusted their practices just before and upon the adoption of N.C. Gen. Stat. 116-30.11(a) (2015). We offer, as a theoretical explanation, that these adjustments, whether intentional or otherwise, can be explained by the need to be cost-conscious and risk-averse. These results proffer important considerations when planning policies that modify if or how attorneys may participate in student conduct and disciplinary processes.

Keywords: Law, Higher Education, Right to Counsel, Student Disciplinary Hearings, Law & Economics, Risk Aversion

JEL Classification: D03, D23, I21, I23, I28, K19

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Adam Ross and Ryan, Christopher, An Econometric Analysis of North Carolina's Legislative Right to Counsel (January 19, 2018). 47 Journal of Law & Education 489-510 (2018), Available at SSRN: or

Adam Ross Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Madison ( email )

Madison, WI 53705

Christopher Ryan

Roger Williams University School of Law ( email )

10 Metacom Avenue
Bristol, RI 02809
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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