Paul L. Caron

Monday, August 3, 2015

ABA Rejects Paid Externships, Tightens Reporting Of Law School-Funded Jobs, Repeals Rule Allowing 10% LSAT-Free Classes

ABA Logo 2ABA Journal, Legal Ed Council Votes to Keep Ban on Academic Credit for Paid Externships:

For the second time in little more than a year, the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has rejected a proposal to lift the ban in the law school accreditation standards on students receiving academic credit for paid externships. ...

The Law Student Division had lobbied hard for the proposed change, arguing that the current rule imposes a financial hardship on students. Many clinicians, however, opposed the lifting of the ban, contending that it would undermine the academic purposes of the placement. ...

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That externship thing is unbelievable. No paid externships? Fine. Shouldn't pay tuition for those credits, either, then.

Posted by: No, breh | Aug 3, 2015 5:35:16 PM

I am concerned that the "clinicians" don't want a paid student alternative to their quasi-academic standing. Some of the most educational time - if the ABA or the law schools wish to add "skills" to young lawyer - is spend "doing" in a true law practice setting.

Posted by: Tom N. | Aug 3, 2015 1:10:11 PM

On the issue of the LSAT requirement and possibly valid alternatives I remember that I received essentially the same percentile ranking on all the large scale national tests (Iowa, PSAT, SAT, LSAT) from high school through the LSAT. I do not profess any technical awareness of the uniqueness of these exams but could suggest that they basically measure pretty much the same factors. At the very least my guess would be that if someone scored consistently well on the SAT or ACT then that person will score well on the LSAT. The problems might begin when people score below something like the 80th percentile as a pattern and have lesser college GPAs. The issue seems to be that at the higher end the other tests are reasonable predictors of capability but that there is a significant risk in a slumping applicant market that law schools want the 10% non-LSAT portion of admittees for reasons that are more questionable such as admitting a bulge of really inadequate applicants and avoiding taking a "US News" "hit" in their rankings.

Posted by: David | Aug 3, 2015 11:08:43 AM


I can see the logic of wanting the ABA to do the study it on the basis of "we can't trust what the law schools create" or "the law schools aren't competent to generate such a study." I'm having trouble seeing how you can support the "it's a public good" position. Earlier this year the Harrison and Mashburn study estimated that $240,000,000 was spent annually by law schools on the production of legal scholarship. Some of that scholarship addressed the "public good" of how to best structure and deliver legal education, including admissions. Why wouldn't a study on an alternative to the LSAT be much the same and, therefore, why wouldn't it be paid for by the same pool of scholarship-supporting funds as the other research?

Posted by: Former Editor | Aug 3, 2015 8:53:49 AM


The ABA does not to my knowledge impose any restriction on schools accepting students with even the lowest LSAT scores. Schools can have whatever admissions criteria they want. Furthermore, the LSAT does not impose much of a burden at all on prospectives since, if they want, they can just treat it as a 4 hour exam and a small registration fee. They don't need to prep.

Just admit it, the 10% rule is about relieving external pressures schools are faced with in a declining enrollment era. It has nothing to do with liberalizing rules so that schools CAN admit other types of students.

Posted by: JM | Aug 3, 2015 8:10:13 AM

ABA got it right on all three points.

Posted by: JM | Aug 3, 2015 6:58:16 AM

Rather than require schools to prove that an alternative to the LSAT is a decent predictor of law school success, the ABA should do/fund such a study itself. The ABA should be looking out for students/applicants and taking the lead in exploring the possibility that something other than the LSAT/LSAC monopoly would be sufficient to adequately police student quality. It would be beyond easy, one would think, to replicate something like this ( which LSAC produced to justify the use of its test. The ABA's position--"we won't allow alternatives to the LSAT unless schools prove the alternative is valid--essentially requires law schools to privately finance what is essentially a public good--the production of information that would be useful to law schools generally in thinking about how to structure their admissions processes.

Posted by: jason Yackee | Aug 3, 2015 6:07:55 AM