With accidental acceptance emails, Northeastern Law joins admissions gaffe club

REUTERS/Emily Elconin
  • Email was result of technical glitch, Boston law school says
  • Other schools and bar examiners have faced similar snafus

(Reuters) - Northeastern University’s law school on Monday mistakenly emailed 205 applicants and nearly 4,000 people who applied the previous year with an offer of admission for fall 2023.

The Boston school sent a follow-up email several hours later admitting the mistake and attributed it to a technical error, joining a long list of law schools and bar examiners that have botched communications with applicants, students and test takers.

“The school of law deeply regrets this unintended mistake and is taking steps to ensure that it will not happen in the future,” the university said in a statement issued Wednesday, adding that law school admissions decisions will not be finalized until later in the year.

Northeastern at least is not alone. There is typically about one major law school admissions gaffe a year, said admissions consultant Mike Spivey. Typo-laden emails to applicants and accidental “reply-all” emails tend to be the most common, he added.

The University of California, Berkley School of Law in 2006 accidentally emailed 7,000 applicants to say they were accepted—a mistake the school said happened during the training of a new employee. Berkeley Law only had space for about 800 students.

Three years later, a software upgrade at the University of North Carolina School of Law resulted in applicants who were still under consideration being invited to an event for admitted students, leading them to believe they had gotten in.

Baylor University School of Law in 2012 accidentally disclosed the personal information of about 400 incoming students, including their undergraduate grade-point average, Law School Admission Test score, and scholarships in an email reminding them to pay their deposits.

More than 17,000 prospective applicants received congratulatory acceptance emails in 2017 from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center—including only one who had actually applied to the school. Southwestern Law School made a similar mistake the following year when it invited people who had not applied to an event for admitted students.

Some law school email mistakes have affected current students. The University of Virginia School of Law’s clerkship director in 2014 inadvertently emailed about 160 law students a spreadsheet containing personal information about 155 students who were applying to clerkships. The spreadsheet included their grade-point average and class rank.

Bar examiners have also released incorrect information to examinees over the years. Scoring errors on Georgia’s July 2015 and February 2016 bar exams meant that 90 test takers were told they failed when they actually passed.

Kentucky bar examiners in 2020 incorrectly reported results for 18 test takers. Fifteen of them were told they passed when they actually failed, while four who had really passed initially believed they failed. Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions said the problem was caused by a data entry mistake.

Read more:

Latest bar exam software glitch puts some test takers in a bind

Calif. bar exam probe details tech failures, computer crashes

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

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