Getting into law school shouldn’t be easy

On Friday, an American Bar Association panel voted to seek public comment on a proposal eliminating the mandatory testing requirement for law school admissions, calling into question the fate of the infamous LSAT (as well as GRE now allowed). Although the ABA withdrew a similar motion in 2018, the proposal would, if approved, mark a significant shift in a decades-old system. Notably, schools could still require either or both tests if they so choose.

An official policy change is likely months away, if at all. Still, there are a lot of mixed opinions in the LSAT debate.

It’s as much a speed bump as it is a barrier to entry.

Those in favor of a test requirement argued that it discouraged weaker applicants from wasting time and money in law school, Reuters reports. Although a little more cynically, The nationJustice correspondent Elie Mystal made this point in 2015, saying that any attempt to eliminate LSAT is, in his view, just a thinly veiled financial grab on higher education. “Instead of wasting $170 on fees, plus whatever you spend on a prep course, to figure out if you could actually be good in law school,” Mystal wrote for Above the law“[law schools] want to remove any obstacles that could cause you to reconsider your debt of $150,000 or more. »

The Law School Admissions Council, the group responsible for administering the LSAT and overseeing the law school application process, says its test is “a vital tool for schools and applicants” and “the most accurate predictor of the success of law school”.

… but it’s still a barrier to entry

Those who support removing the testing requirement said it hampers efforts to diversify legal education and the legal profession, Reuters written, especially given, on the one hand, the costs related to prepare for and pass these exams. Many undergraduate programs have also started eliminating entrance tests for similar reasons.

Andrew Strauss, dean and professor at the University of Dayton School of Law, said Dive into higher education he thinks such a change would create a “very different climate around” law school admissions. With mandatory LSATs off the table, schools would be free to focus more narrowly on applicants’ various qualifications, such as GPAs, pre-law courses or interviews, he added.

The LSAC, meanwhile, argued that dropping the testing requirement might actually work. versus diversity, because “without test scores, you reward privilege more than potential,” as LSAC President Kellye Testy recently said. The Wall Street Journal.

Getting in shouldn’t be easy

In 2017, Harvard dropped its LSAT requirement and began allowing applicants to submit GRE scores instead — presumably, Jim Saksa wrote for Slate, to allow for a test that is “easier to pass and easier to master”. But “this is the exact opposite of what law schools should be doing” since it “should be harder, not less difficult, to get into law school, because the last thing we need is this are more lawyers”. In 2021, the American Bar Association officially recognized the GRE as an alternative law school entrance exam.

In his 2015 column, Mystal echoed Saksa’s view: “Law school is already the recycling bin for the world’s useless humanities degrees,” he wrote. Deans should be more concerned with making their program “reasonable, affordable and valuable” for people who actually want to be in it, rather than “sowing” those “who don’t know what they want to do with their lives” in the law .

Don’t forget the bar

Whatever the fate of the LSAT, prospective students should remember that they will have to pass the notoriously difficult bar exam to practice law after graduation, attorney Jonathan Wolf said recently. Above the law. If your problem with the LSAT and/or GRE is that the standardized tests are difficult, just remember what’s on the other side of that degree, “before you’ve wasted three years of your life and hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he wrote.

Nancy I. Romero