Email Scandals, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Screw-Ups

The Perils of ‘Reply All’
Villanova Law Dean: ‘The internet really is a type of hell!’

Last week, we wrote about Villanova University School of Law running out of work-study funds. Over the weekend, we received several copies of an interesting follow-up email — one that went to every 1L and 2L at Villanova, as well as every dean.

Some background, from a tipster:

This email is sent as-is, with typos and random, misplaced sentence pieces intact (“ing we put on email . . .” ?).

Dean Sargent gives ATL a shout-out and echoes Professor-Blogger Jim Maule’s excitement as well.

And now, the email:

From: Mark Sargent
Sent: Saturday, April 18, 2009 3:01 PM
To: Wendy Barron; 2010dist; 2011dist
Cc: William James; Doris Brogan; Felicia Hamilton; Lori Bogish; Jennifer Nguyen; Christine Stango
Subject: RE: Work-Study funds for summer 2009

Wendy, we need to be careful with this kind of mass communication, helpful as it is. As I am sure you saw, this ended up on Above the Law. I did not get nearly as excited about it as Maule, and I know other schools will have the same problem, but readersnaturally (albeit idiotically) put a bas [sic] spin on it for us.

This is what we get for being transparent and helpful! The internet really is a type of hell!
ing we put on email or elsewhere can go viral almost instantly.

Mark A. Sargent
Dean and Professor of Law
Villanova University School of Law

From a second tipster:

I had to forward this. It is the email equivalent of the scene in Billy Madison where Chris Farley gets on the school bus and yells, “NO YELLING ON THE BUS!”

Our observations:

1. Thanks for the shout-out, Dean Sargent! We’re glad to have you as a reader.

2. You’re right — other law schools arehaving the same problem. For example, there’s no more work-study money at Rutgers – Camden (email after the jump).

3. “[R]eaders naturally (albeit idiotically) put a bas [sic] spin on it for us.” Oh, Dean Sargent, don’t read the comments — they will only cause you grief. We’ve helpfully hidden them, so they don’t display by default; you have to affirmatively seek them out.

peanut Mr Peanut warning contains peanuts you will die Above the Law blog.jpgFinally, this is not the first time Dean Sargent has had problems with that pesky “reply all” button. Remember the saga of Peanut Girl? Back in the fall of 2007, Dean Sargent complained about having to deal with a student with a very severe peanut allergy — in an email he sent to the deans of all ABA-accredited law schools. In a subsequent apology to the listserv, he described his gaffe as “the oldest mistake in the history of email.”

We reached out to Dean Sargent for comment on his latest email error. Read more, after the jump.

We were hoping for an amusing, good-natured, self-deprecating message from the email-impaired dean. Instead, we got this:

This was ACCIDENTALLY sent to a wide list. It was supposed to go only to a group of administrators most concerned with the issue. I believe it is thoroughly inapporopriate [sic] for you to publish something that was not intended for a wide audience, and that will not contribute to any kind of helpful dialogue and only serve to embarrass us.

Well, Dean Sargent, it depends upon what the meaning of “helpful” is. The situation is slightly amusing — and in these depressing times, a little laughter can be “helpful.” Furthermore, it is “helpful” to remind our readers, many of whom are law students and young lawyers, about the importance of using “reply all” with care (as well as the importance of proofreading emails before sending).

While we have your attention, here’s a suggestion. Some distinguished members of the legal academy handle their own correspondence (like Judge Richard Posner, who responds to our emails in a matter of minutes). But many others — especially senior members, such as yourself — delegate the task to an assistant. In light of your recurring problems with the “reply all” feature, as well as your frequent typos, having your secretary handle your email traffic might be wise.

If you’re looking for a highly skilled typist whose prose is always error-free, we’re happy to offer you the services of our very own Elie Mystal. For his rates and availability, email us (subject line: “TTTyping Services by Elie”).

Earlier: A Disturbing Note from Villanova School of Law
Ding-Dong! The Peanut-Hating Witch Is Dead Visiting at Another Law School for a Year


date Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 3:16 PM

subject Work Study & Summer Funding


Unfortunately, this summer there is no funding available for work study positions outside the law school. However, there will still be work study for on campus positions (research assistants, etc.)

For public interest summer funding resources, see the Career Planning website at

(hidden for your protection)

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