Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Alternative to LSAT??

Study Offers A New Test of Potential Lawyers is a very interesting March 10, 2009 article from the New York Times. It discusses a test that has been developed by a retired law professor to come up with an alternative to the LSAT. The goal of this test would be to predict success as a lawyer. The LSAT has been criticized for years as not being a predictor of anything. Interestingly, the Law School Admissions Council, which developed the LSAT, funded this study. The article states in part:

Ms. Margolis added, “We think it would be difficult to predict success as a lawyer prior to law school.”

But that is exactly what Professor Shultz and Prof. Sheldon Zedeck, a colleague in the university’s psychology department, wanted to do.

To find out what applicant traits should figure in admissions decisions at law schools, they coordinated individual interviews, focus groups and ultimately a survey of judges, law school professors, law firm clients and hundreds of graduates of Berkeley’s law school.

They asked, among other things, “If you were looking for a lawyer for an important matter for yourself, what qualities would you most look for? What kind of lawyer do you want to teach or be?”

The survey produced a list of 26 characteristics, or “effectiveness factors,” like the ability to write, manage stress, listen, research the law and solve problems. The professors then collected examples from the Berkeley alumni of specific behavior by lawyers that were considered more or less effective.

Using the examples, Professor Shultz and Professor Zedeck developed a test that could be administered to law school applicants to measure their raw lawyerly talent.

Instead of focusing on analytic ability, the new test includes questions about how to respond to hypothetical situations. For example, it might describe a company with a policy requiring immediate firing of any employee who lied on an application, then ask what a test taker would do upon discovering that a top-performing employee had omitted something on an application.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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Interesting. But how do you test ability to "manage stress, listen, research the law and solve problems"?

Also, testing ability to research the law seems hardly fair where some students have been exposed to legal research through school/work/family and others have not.

Posted by: Alan Cheuk | Jul 12, 2012 4:24:12 AM

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