Email Scandals, Law Schools, listserv, Rudeness

U. Chicago Law School Listserv War: ‘How Embarrassing’ for Everyone Involved

Chicago is an incredible city. But sometimes the weather, the grime, the southside violence, and the politics can be a little overwhelming. Add the intensity of studying law at a school like the University of Chicago, and you have a recipe for stress and some fiery tempers.

When it all gets to be too much, and you just need to scream at someone for no reason, what can you do?

Jump on your law school listserv, of course….

A tipster sent us a recent thread from U. Chicago, which makes it seem that the long Midwestern winter might be going to some of the students’ heads. (Yes, I know that it’s spring now, and Easter was this weekend. But if you’ve ever lived in Chicago, you know that means nothing.)

We have a listserve at U of C Law that is facilitated by the school’s administrators. Somehow students always find a way to use this as a forum to disrespect one another. I have attached a word document with the emails from a recent thread regarding a 1L who sought to sell her supplements on the listserve.

What a gentle word, “disrespect.” Doesn’t quite describe the level of vitriol launched over the firewall, in response to this benign message from a student we will call Ms. Missed the Memo (MtM):

From: [Ms. Missed the Memo]
To: lawannounce

Hi All,

Selling almost every Contracts supplement imaginable (I was a little over-enthusiastic first quarter):

-Baird’s Economics of Contract Law (like new, clean text; $155):

-Blum E&E (some markings on a few pages; $25)

-Posner Hornbook (some markings, torn cover; $18)

-Farnsworth Hornbook (maybe some highlighting, most likely clean text; $32):

-Chirelstein, Concepts & Case Analysis (some marking on a few pages; $18)

-Briefs, keyed to Dawson (some markings, water damage; $12)


Honestly, I see nothing wrong here. But that is clearly why I’m not a law student at the University of Chicago. This is where the student we’ll call Bossypants comes in to set everyone straight on MtM’s egregious violation of… something:

From: Bossypants
To: lawannounce

Dear Ms. Missed the Memo:

Your Friendly LSA representatives would like to call you out on your inability to follow direction.   

If you want to sell your supplements to unsuspecting 1Ls who are naive enough to think that extra reading will help them set the curve, we support you! In fact, we have provided a designated forum for such transactions.  However, since the majority of the school could care less about your ineffectual supplements, please follow this link to the new bookserve.

How embarrassing for you. 

-Your Friendly LSA Representatives

Whoa. That escalated from 0 to 60 before I even knew there was a race happening. I think someone might have gotten stabbed with a trident during the course of that email.

Luckily, within a few minutes, another law student chimed in to defend poor Ms. Missed the Memo. Oh, wait, nevermind. The student just wanted to indirectly respond to Bossypants’s ridiculousness by calling out an insignificant grammatical malfeasance. Though Clever Grammar Nazi does finish with a nice twist:

From: Clever Grammar Nazi
To: lawannounce

Dear Bossypants:

Your friendly Grammar Nazi would like to call you out on your inability to use proper English.

If you want to say that no one cares about something, the correct phrase is “couldn’t care less,” not “could care less.”

For example, the majority of the school couldn’t care less about the new bookserve or LSA Reps.

How embarrassing for you.

I have to say, the best part of this thread might be the overtly sanctimonious use of “Dear So-and-so” and “Your friendly” in the emails. Can’t you just taste the rage?

The last message in the thread cools things down a bit, but Public Defendress still doesn’t give any quarter to Bossypants:

From: Public Defendress
To: lawannounce

Dear Bossypants,

Granted my good hearted classmate Ms. Missed the Memo has made a mistake in posting her supplements on Law Announce instead of the newly publicized book list serve, I strongly doubt that her mistake was so horrible that you needed to “call her out” before the whole law school via email. “Reply all” is not the only option, I hope you learn that before you graduate. While I am sure you put in a lot of work in sending those two emails about the book list serve, I would not be surprised if a majority of us 1Ls gave it more attention than the weekly LSA minutes. Have a great weekend! One last request, do you have an E&E for Civil Procedure II?

Your Friendly 1L,
Public Defendress

Game, set, match — that was apparently the last word. Happily, it seems to have ended with the wrongly-yelled-at being successfully defended. There is one lingering question, though: was Public Defendress out of line for “calling out” Bossypants for excessive reply all usage — when she herself also used reply all?

These are the questions that keep me up at night. When are we finally going to see a Rutter guide for listserv conduct?

(hidden for your protection)

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