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Cyberattack during finals upends law students' study plans

2 minute read

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

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  • George Washington Law's online course materials platform was down starting Friday
  • Students and faculty have mobilized to share study materials

(Reuters) - George Washington University Law School is scrambling to recover from what it described as a cyberattack in the middle of final exams that knocked out the platform that houses course materials.

The outage was limited to the law school, according to a spokeswoman. It has left students without access to study materials, though students and faculty rushed to create a crowdsourced stand-in while the site remains down. A separate software platform the law school uses to administer exams was not impacted, however, and finals are taking place this week as planned.

“We can’t imagine a more stressful time for this to have happened,” said law dean Dayna Bowen Matthew in a nine-minute video message released Monday to students at the Washington, D.C., school.

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Administrators told law students that the third-party vendor that owns the “My Law” online platform that houses past assignments, previous exams and class notes was targeted in a cyberattack early Friday morning, disabling it. It had not been restored as of Tuesday. The vendor, AppointLink, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Final exams began Dec. 7 and will continue through Friday.

The school’s Student Bar Association mobilized over the weekend to crowdsource and compile the information housed on My Law, with students and faculty submitting notes and other materials to a Google Drive and making documents available through other avenues. Association president Jordan Michel did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the situation.

A law school spokeswoman said Tuesday that all take-home exams known to have been submitted during the cyberattack have been located, despite earlier concerns that some were lost.

“We have a synchronized effort going on to do the things required to give you the best exam preparation and exam experience that can be had under these circumstances,” Matthew said in her video message.

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com

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