With all the freak-outs that happen during finals week, one might get a cynical view of how law students (and professors) handle stress. But despair not!

There is still this thing that exists called integrity — and sometimes, when people screw up, they acknowledge their mistakes, then try to fix the situation the best they can.

Today we have two examples, one from a frazzled SBA representative trying to manage peers suffering from caffeine withdrawal, and the other from a professor who spaced out when creating his employment law exam.

Keep reading for the details of the blunders, plus the (seriously) classy apologies issued by both individuals….

First, we’ve got the story of a listserv spat at UConn Law, when it appeared that there would be no more free coffee or tea at the student co-op. At least one student called out the SBA via the listserv.

But it turned out to be a simple misunderstanding. There was a temporary accounting error that the SBA quickly fixed. Someone from the SBA also took to the listserv to address the situation. In the process, he got a little snippy at the student who complained (you can see the full thread on the next page):

Furthermore, any student that does not receive free coffee and is concerned about the exhaustion of the SBA Coffee Fund should contact the SBA directly with any questions, before emailing and misleading the entire campus community.

Zing! But shortly after, the SBA member who wrote the email followed up with a public apology for his harshness. Instead of stubbornly stumbling forward with righteous indignation, the student had the guts to admit his hasty reply:

Dear Students,

I’d like to personally apologize to the student body for the tone of the last email. I’m the one who drafted it, and it was inappropriate and inartful. I was not trying to admonish or call anyone out with the last line — but rather trying to explain that if something seems amiss with an SBA program — like the SBA coffee has run out early and the SBA has not made an announcement — the best way to respond is to contact the SBA directly, rather than sending out a community email that might only have a piece of the story. The way I went about doing this, however, was unthoughtful[,] unnecessary, and inappropriate. Out of several options I had available for addressing the issue, I hastily chose one of the worst ones.…

[M]y response was poorly worded and came across entirely the wrong way. It’s a busy and stressful time for everyone, and I did not put the usual and proper amount of care into drafting, wording, and editing that email. It was never my intention to “call out”, condescend to, disparage, or otherwise attack the student that sent the email, nor any other student. While, at the time of sending, my phone had not yet received the other SBA email about coffee being back on, I realize that my email probably came across as even more harsh/unnecessary given that it was a second email from the SBA about the coffee, and that it directly addressed something a student had done — tone notwithstanding. The SBA is a body that exists to represent and serve the students, and I am truly sorry and deeply embarrassed by the message that my email conveyed.…

I personally know and like the student who sent the email today, and would like to take this opportunity to apologize to him and to all of you for the carelessness with which I drafted my email. I’m sincerely, and truly sorry.

Respectfully,
[Redacted]

I almost feel bad for the guy — his apology is so sincere. His original email was rude, but it wasn’t as if he was making death threats. I’ve probably received harsher emails from my mother on occasion. Sounds like he’s quite the opposite of this kind of evil future boss. But that’s probably a good thing.

In another story, this time from Mizzou Law, we have a professor who goofed up. A tipster says an employment law professor there screwed up “via laziness.” Here is the note professor Richard Reuben sent to his class about their exam:

All,

I understand that there were concerns about a few of the multiple choice questions, either covering material not covered in class or not providing clearly correct answers. In all candor, I got these questions from a colleague at another school who also uses this casebook and thought I had weeded out all of the ones beyond our scope of coverage, but may have missed one or two. In an abundance of caution and fairness, I will eliminate the problematic questions, which were pointed out to Deans Gely and Bailey, and will grade only the remaining 20 of the 25 questions presented.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I hope this eases any concerns you might have about the fairness of the exam, and continue to wish you the best in the rest of your studies and exams.

Best,

Richard.

Okay. I can see how this could feel like kind of a boneheaded mistake on the part of the professor. But it also serves as a good example of the way students — whether law students or undergrads — like to get all huffy: “Oh my God, how dare they mess this up! It’s completely unacceptable.” When in reality, it’s often not even that big deal. And regardless, most problems have simple, largely effective solutions, as long as people manage to keep their heads on straight.

In any case, it’s Friday, and hopefully most of you are just about finished with all this crap for the year anyway.

If that’s the case for you, good luck with summer jobs, summer vacations, or fun times with bar exam studying. Congratulations on making it through another school year.

But first, if you’d like to see the full email exchanges described above, click through to the next few pages….


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