Are We Nearing the End of Law School Admissions Tests?

A s an attorney, you probably remember spending hours and hours preparing for the Law School Admissions Test to get into the law school of your dreams. Well, early in November the council of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a recommendation to delete the accreditation standard that requires law schools to test potential students using a “valid and reliable” admissions test.

This means that potentially, future law school applicants could avoid taking the Law School Admissions Test, or any other admissions test, if the nation’s law school accrediting body passes this proposal. However, if the proposal passes, while law schools technically wouldn’t have to test applicants at all, they would still need to follow sound admission practices. This means law schools would likely still require the LSAT or Graduate Records Examination (GRE), as a different accreditation standard requires schools to make sure applicants appear capable of graduating and passing the bar.

The greatest change, if this proposal is approved, would be that schools themselves will now be able to decide which test to use, without the burden of judging whether it was “valid and reliable.” Though, the proposal to remove the admissions testing standard faces many hurdles before it can become active. Those opposing the proposal, such as Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admissions Council (which administers the LSAT), fear that this decision could weaken law school admission standards and “essentially creates a free-for-all that will be confusing and unfair for potential applicants.” Other opponents, including several law schools and their deans, worry that this change will impede their efforts to enroll diverse students.

On the other side of the argument, people such as Daniel Rodriguez, dean at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, believe that the time has come for the standards review committee to think creatively about appropriate regulation.

The council has since received nine written comments to the proposal as well as three testing entities testifying at a public hearing. Generally, the testing entities supported the proposal, while opponents included law schools or their deans. After the council’s standards review committee considered all the feedback, they offered three options for the council to choose from at the most recent meeting. All three of the options started out by discarding the current proposal and staring over with public comments. So we have to ask, where do you stand on this issue? Should law schools be able to choose what admissions tests are “valid and reliable” to use?

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