August 23, 2017

Will the law schools continue to use an "optional LSAT"?

3. If  the requirement of a “valid and reliable admission test”  is discontinued, will the law schools  continue to require a “valid and reliable  admission test” in their  own admissions process?

The answer will be determined over  time. Even without an ABA mandated LSAT  requirement, I believe  the law schools will  continue to use it or another admission test. What will not be a requirement for the law schools will still be a requirement for law school applicants.

My reasons include the following:

–       the cost to the law school to evaluate the applicant is high. The LSAT score  is an objective measure (although what the LSAT measures is unclear) and it requires no effort to  interpret. In addition, the use of the LSAT places part of the cost  of processing the law  school  application on the applicant.  Therefore,  it makes economic sense  for the schools to continue using the LSAT.
–       The LSAT is an objective test. Everybody has to take that test. It doesn’t matter what school he or she  attends. It doesn’t matter what undergraduate major a student offers. The LSAT is  the great equalizer – the one thing that all applicants have in common.
–       schools  are  obsessed with law school rankings in general and of  course their  own ranking in particular.  Commentators are already considering  how not requiring the LSAT would affect the ranking of a law school.  One professor has blogged that an LSAT free admissions policy can hurt the U.S. news ranking.  Apparently law school admissions data (which includes the LSAT) contributes to about 25% of the U.S. news ranking. At the present time, schools  that do NOT use the LSAT are  not ABA approved and are often considered “second rate”. Why would  a school  want to join the club of schools that are  perceived as being “second rate”? I  suspect  that they will adopt this  reasoning,  even though on the actual LSAT the statement:

“If a  school is second rate it does not use the LSAT”

is NOT equivalent to:

“If  a school does not use the LSAT then it is second rate”.

The Harvard  Business School (HBS) discontinued its GMAT requirement for a period of approximately ten years. During this time period the rankings of HBS fell. When Harvard reinstated the GMAT requirement, its rankings improved. That said, it is possible that this  observation (to use another LSAT question type), is to confuse correlation and causation.

Do the law school rankings actually mean anything? On this point see:

– recent interesting commentary by Malcolm Gladwell (of Blink and The Tipping Point fame): and

– interesting commentary on the Gladwell article by Kyle Pasewark (of Advise In Solutions fame).

– Law Schools may want to retain the LSAT to assist  with financial aid applications.

In conclusion, I see no reason why  law schools  would discontinue the use  of the LSAT or another “valid and reliable admission test”. I do see a number of reasons to continue the use of  “a valid and reliable admission test” which brings us to the next issue which is:

4.      If either  the ABA or the law schools continue to require a “valid
and reliable  admissions test” what test or tests should  be required?

Should  the LSAT be the only game in town?


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