Tuesday, May 15, 2018

ABA House of Delegates set to vote in August on eliminating LSAT requirement

But commentators say that even if the ABA votes to eliminate the mandatory use of the LSAT for admission purposes, most schools will continue to rely on it anyway. For one thing, LSAT scores tend to be a good predictor of bar passage rates (here and here) and thus is an important metric to take into account for any school concerned about the ABA's proposed plan to tighten bar passage rates required to maintain accreditation. Law.com has the story:

Vote to Toss LSAT Mandate for Law Schools Slated for August

Despite the proposed change, most law schools will continue to use the LSAT in admissions even if the ABA's House of Delegates in August signs off on eliminating the LSAT's required use, experts said.


A proposal to drop the requirement that law schools use the LSAT in admissions is heading to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in August for final approval.


The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on May 11 narrowly voted to push the controversial proposal forward, and a day later decided to fast track its implementation by placing it on the House of Delegates agenda during the association’s annual meeting in Chicago later this summer.


Should the house sign off, law schools would be free to use the GRE, other standardized tests, or no admission test at all, although opting to use no test would trigger extra scrutiny from the ABA as to whether schools are admitting unqualified students.


The Law School Admission Council (LSAC)—which administers the LSAT and has warned that eliminating its required use would hurt applicants and schools—likely won’t mount a campaign to sway ABA delegates to vote against the proposal in August, said LSAC president Kellye Testy in an interview Monday. But in light of Friday’s close 9-8 vote, the testing organization will continue to educate people on what it views as the benefits of its law school-specific admissions exam, she said. The LSAC has argued that its test is an important consumer protection for potential students to gauge their likelihood of succeeding on campus before investing their time and money in a law degree.


“Right now, we’re in a listening mode to hear how the schools, deans and admission deans are feeling about the decision,” Testy said. “I’m hearing from a lot of deans and other participants in legal education that they are wanting to really think this through now that they see where the council is—especially when they saw how close the vote was.”


Marc Miller, dean at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, welcomed the ABA council’s decision to do away with the long-standing LSAT mandate. Arizona in 2016 became the first law school to use the GRE in admissions, and now accepts approximately 10 percent of its U.S. students with such scores.


“It is so darned hard to reform either the profession or the educational system that supports it,” Miller said on Monday. “This is really exciting and neat and not where I thought the process of starting with the GRE would end up.”


Eliminating the LSAT requirement will open the door for law schools to experiment with different ways to admit students, Miller added. Arizona is already thinking about how the proposal could allow the school to admit students in the university’s groundbreaking undergraduate law degree program, in which undergraduates are taught by the law school faculty. And 17 schools currently allow or soon will allow applicants to provide either GRE scores or LSAT scores. They have cited the desire to attract more students with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds in accepting GRE scores. The GRE is also more accessible because it is administered throughout the year, as opposed to the LSAT’s six annual administrations.

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