ABA Dismisses Concerns
Last month a subcommittee of the ABA voted to eliminate the LSAT as part of the law school admission process.
Currently, ABA admission standards state that
A law school shall require each applicant for admission as a first year J.D. degree student to take a valid and reliable admission test [e.g. the LSAT].ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools – Standard 503.
The proposed change to the admission test standard would state,
A law school may use admission tests as part of sound admission practices and policies.
For the revision to be finalized, it must be approved by the ABA House of Delegates. This will most likely happen at their next meeting in February 2023.
Members of the legal community were asked to submit their comments on the proposal to the ABA’s Strategic Review Committee (SRC). The SRC received nearly 120 comments expressing a variety of concerns.
All concerns were addressed by the SRC in a condescending memorandum posted to the ABA’s website.
The memo starts by reminding readers that
it is important to note that the SRC does not look at the number of comments for and against revisions as “votes” or a “poll” to which is it bound.
Like most legal memorandums, the SRC puts its weakest argument last. At the bottom of page 4, it notes
some comments expressed concern about a “race to the bottom” as law schools will abandon admissions tests to keep up with other schools that do so…The SRC does not believe such a “race to the bottom” is likely.
schools with low performance indicators (attrition, bar pass, assessment during law school, etc.) will remain free to adopt an admission test to bolster their admissions policies, and many likely will do so as a means of demonstrating that they are addressing those issues. In other words, the Council will remain focused on the requirements for output measures that are in place, which will restrict the extent to which schools can experiment with the input measures governing their admissions, including the use of an admission test.
In my view, the SRC’s memorandum is unpersuasive. Eliminating the LSAT requirement will undoubtedly lower the standards used by law schools in the admission process. It will damage the profession’s prestige and, ultimately, set up many law graduates for failure when they take the bar exam.