Thursday, August 24, 2017
National Jurist: Rebuttal: LSAT’s Predictive Value Despite Diversity Issues, by Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock):
Aaron Taylor's recent piece here on diversity in law school admissions discusses racial disparities in outcomes in legal education. While Taylor recognizes that this could be caused by "differences in applicant quality" and that there are "[v]ast racial and ethnic LSAT score disparities," Taylor contends that the "value [of the LSAT] is often inflated by law schools." I present some additional data to consider.
After offering a few studies in support of his thesis, Taylor states that "[s]tudies of empirical relationships . . . are uncommon in legal education. In the absence of this data, inflated assumptions about the LSAT’s power pervade, to the inequitable detriment of many applicants, most profoundly black applicants."
Taylor may be unaware of my coauthored 2016 study of admissions data from my school — the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law — which analyzed the correlation of LSAT and undergraduate GPA with bar passage. It was published in the Texas Review of Law and Policy. Specifically, that study evaluated Bowen data from 2005 to 2011; Taylor served as Bowen's admissions dean from 2006 to 2011.
The underlying data from my article show the following distribution of bar passage at my school segmented by LSAT score bands for the time period analyzed:
The chart shows that the correlation between LSAT performance and Bar-exam passage is noteworthy. For sure, this relationship is complex. Indeed, evidence supports the conclusion that intra-school relative LSAT scores are even more important than absolute scores. But, either way, LSAT scores are very useful.