I'm no fan of standardized testing, but I'm not cheering the possible elimination of the LSAT either. According to The National Law Journal, the ABA is considering making the LSATs voluntary rather than mandatory for admission to law schools under its accreditation standards.
"The committee reviewing the standards is leaning toward dropping the rule that law schools require J.D. applicants to take a 'valid and reliable admission test,'" chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, told the NLJ.
One reason the ABA committee is thinking of dumping the LSAT requirement is to give schools more autonomy over their own admissions. "Is taking a standardized test the only way to determine if someone should be able to go to law school? Schools ought to be able to decide how they want to admit students," said Loyola University Chicago School of Law dean David Yellen, a member of the review committee, to the NLJ. (Yellen also said that he "personally is on the fence about the LSAT requirement.")
Another factor, noted Yellen, is that the Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, is "a wealthy institution. . . . So many people take the LSAT. Why is the ABA ensuring its future success?"
Members of the the fraternity of law schools worrying about unjust enrichment in the legal education field? Really?
I never thought I'd be defending the LSAT, but here I go. First of all, given the plight of jobless law school graduates saddled with hundred of thousands of dollars in debt, why are we encouraging measures that will likely encourage more jobless lawyers?
My hunch is that the law schools that won't require LSATs will be either newly opened law schools looking for bodies or those rated at the bottom. As we all know too well, law schools have been sprouting in this country like pesky mushrooms on a soggy lawn. And unfortunately, there seems to be an ample supply of aspiring lawyers who are willing to shell out the money to go to law school--any law school. (Also unfortunate is that they all seem to gain accreditation--eventually.)
I fear that schools that don't require the extra hurdle of the LSAT will attract even more applicants (probably some very weak ones, who shouldn't be in law school in the first place)--and that the cycle of bad schools and jobless graduates will escalate.
My bet is that established law schools will continue to require LSATs. Indeed, ABA committee members Polden and Yellen told NLJ that they "believe that most schools would continue to require the LSAT, in part because it is the most reliable way to measure applicants against each other and make merit-based financial aid decisions."
Eliminating the LSAT serves the law school business, not the consumers of those institutions. Is there any doubt that we should make it harder for people to go to law school? If taking the LSAT or getting a low score on the LSAT will stop people from rushing to law school, isn't that a form of public service?
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