TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chicago Law Schools Consider Accepting GRE As Test Alternative To LSAT

GRELSATFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Chicago Tribune, Chicago Law Schools Consider Accepting GRE as Test Alternative to LSAT:

In a move that shirks a tradition as old as baby boomers, law schools around the country are starting to consider accepting an admission test other than the LSAT. And Chicago-area schools are watching closely. ... 

Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law in Chicago is studying the possibility of accepting the GRE. "This is a new world. Law schools are looking at much more sophisticated data," said Daniel Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern's law school. "It's just simply a matter of time, and probably a short amount of time, before the hegemony of the LSAT will destabilize and law schools will be looking at other criteria for admission.

For law schools, accepting another, more user-friendly admission test in addition to the LSAT could mean more applicants and a more diverse class — ethnically and academically.

But it could also mean teetering on the brink of noncompliance with standards from the legal education section of the American Bar Association, which contracts with the U.S. Department of Education to accredit law schools. ...

Northwestern's law school had enough students who had taken both tests to gather data, and it hired an outside firm to conduct a study, Rodriguez said. Educational Testing Service, the Princeton, N.J.-based nonprofit that administers the GRE, is conducting a national validity study, which it plans to complete by August, involving more than a dozen law schools, including John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

But many schools, some of which don't have the resources or data to conduct their own studies, are waiting to see what changes the bar association makes in its requirements. ... "Why undertake a somewhat primitive study on our own if a professional one is forthcoming?" said Harold Krent, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law. ...

Reconsidering how things are done is "appropriate, considering the pace of change today," said University of Illinois College of Law Dean Vikram Amar, whose college is not on the verge of changing any policies. But trepidation can be just as appropriate. "The legal profession is changing, and law schools are adapting to it," Amar said. "But change isn't always progress. ... Law is a discipline that values tradition, and I think there are some good things about that."

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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Nix the LSAT - it kills good students who are simply slow readers. It did me - good thinker, slow reader. I needed at least TWICE the time for entire LSAT. I'd graduated Cum Laude - yet had to just color in half the bubbles on the test. Rejected by all schools applied. I woulda been a practicing attny by now. Nix the LSAT.

Posted by: eh stu dent | May 31, 2017 12:23:49 PM

I suspect it will not take long for admissions committees to develop a GRE cutoff score. One is still left with the same essential problem: what shall be the proxy for identifying students likely to succeed in law school (if there will be any such proxy)?

Posted by: Michael C. Duff | Jun 1, 2017 7:51:20 PM

@Mike Duff,

There is already a cutoff score for GRE test-takers applying to law school, proscribed in ABA Standard 503 and parts of Interpretation 503-3: namely that said applicants must have scored at or above the 85th percentile on the GRE AND maintain a cumulative uGPA at or above a 3.5 through six semesters or be in the top 10% of their undergrad class through six semesters.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 2, 2017 10:16:52 AM