Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 22, 2009

ABA Offers Guidance on LSAT-Free Law School Admissions

I previously blogged the new programs at Alabama, Illinois, and Michigan for admitting selected undergraduates without requiring them to take the LSAT, as well as the rankings implications of such programs (LSAT-Free Law School Admissions Can Goose U.S. News Ranking).  The ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar has released a Consultant's Memo offering guidance to schools considering such LSAT-free programs:  

Over the last several months there has been significant publicity about the plans of several law schools to initiate special admission programs, for a small cohort of entering students, which do not require the use of the LSAT. We believe that all of these programs have been brought to the attention of the Accreditation Committee, and the Committee has had ongoing dialogue with the schools about these programs and their compliance with the Standards. Rule 25 does not permit me to release compliance information tied to individual schools, but I am able to provide you with general information about the approach taken by the Accreditation Committee in dealing with these special admissions programs.

Standard 503 says in relevant part: A law school shall require each applicant for admission as a first year J.D. student to take a valid and reliable admission test to assist the school and the applicant in assessing the applicant’s capability of satisfactorily completing the school’s educational program. Additionally, Interpretation 503-1 says: A law school that uses an admission test other than the Law School Admission Test sponsored by the Law School Admission Council shall establish that such other test is a valid and reliable test to assist the school in assessing an applicant’s capability to satisfactorily complete the school’s educational program.

Interpretation 503-1 makes it clear that the burden is on the law school to demonstrate the validity and reliability of any test, other than the LSAT, that is used for law school admission purposes. ... To assist law schools, the Committee has developed some guidelines for the psychometric analyses that would be expected to show compliance under Standard 503 and Interpretation 503-1 or the justification for a variance under [] Standard 802 for a special admissions program that does not use LSAT scores.

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