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UVA email exposed confidential data for 155 clerkship applicants, including GPA and class rank

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UVA email exposed confidential data for 155 clerkship applicants, including GPA and class rank

Jun 5, 2014, 07:55 pm CDT

A proud tradition of placing law students in prestigious judicial clerkships at the University of Virginia School of Law obviously involves applicants with top qualifications.

But fellow UVA law students were unexpectedly left in little doubt about 155 of their classmates’ credentials this week. An administrator accidentally sent a spreadsheet to the entire clerkship email discussion group that included detailed background information including students’ class rank, Above the Law reports.

In addition to class rank, which ordinarily isn’t disclosed to law students, ATL says the spreadsheet included confidential information such as clerkship applicants’ summer jobs after their first and second years of law school and the names of those providing recommendations. ATL says the emailed data also shows that a B grade point average at UVA puts a law student in the bottom quarter of the class.

An email in which an administrator apologizes for the clerkship data breach is included in the ATL post. “We take the safeguarding of your personal information very seriously and will conduct a full review of our communication practices and our management of confidential student information,” it states. “We ask that you please do not open this attachment and that you immediately delete this email if you have not done so already.”

In response to a request for comment by the ABA Journal, a UVA spokeswoman provided a written statement:

“Yesterday, a UVA Law School administrator sent an email to approximately 160 law students that mistakenly attached a spreadsheet containing student information. The spreadsheet included grade point averages, class ranks and biographical information for 155 students who are applying for clerkships. It did not include social security numbers or financial information.

“The dean and other Law School officials have apologized and reached out individually to all of the affected students. We are deeply distressed that this mistake occurred, and we are in the process of reviewing our data management procedures to build in more safeguards against unintentional disclosures.”

This is not the first time UVA has accidentally exposed students’ confidential information; the Daily Progress reports that in July 2013 brochures went out to 18,700 students with their Social Security numbers printed on the address labels. About 350 students’ transcripts were also inadvertently posted online in 2012, according to the Daily Progress.

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