Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

WSJ:  Law Schools Replace LSAT With GRE To Goose Enrollment

GREFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal, LSAT’s Grip on Law-School Admissions Loosens:

Law schools are toying with a new way to boost shrinking applicant pools: dropping the Law School Admission Test requirement.

University of Arizona College of Law began accepting Graduate Record Examination scores in lieu of the LSAT as an option for applicants this month, and other schools say they are weighing the same move. Arizona Law will continue accepting LSAT scores as well.

The change counters decades of reliance on the LSAT to gauge readiness for a legal education. The median LSAT score of incoming students is also used as a key measure in closely followed national rankings of schools.

Arizona Law administrators say they have proved the GRE is just as effective a measure and that it complies with accrediting rules. Traditionally, the GRE has been used for admission to graduate and business-school programs.

The American Bar Association, which requires accredited schools to consider LSAT scores or those of another “valid and reliable” test when making admissions decisions, says it plans to independently determine whether the GRE meets that requirement.

“This isn’t an effort to declare war on anybody,” said Marc Miller, the dean of Arizona Law in Tucson. “This is an effort to fundamentally change legal education and the legal profession.”

Mr. Miller said using the GRE would diversify the law-school pipeline by capturing those with broader interests and backgrounds, including students interested in joint degrees. At least five times as many people took the GRE in the latest admissions cycle as the LSAT. ...

Already, two other schools—University of Hawaii School of Law and Wake Forest University School of Law—are in the process of conducting similar validity studies. David Payne, a vice president at ETS, said the company plans to embark on a nationwide study that, if the ABA agrees with results, could open the door for widespread adoption. ...

Not everyone is on board. “This seems like such a big sea change, and I’m not clear what the goal is,” said Sarah Zearfoss, dean of admissions at University of Michigan Law School. “I think [the LSAT] is a very good test for its purpose.”

Business schools similarly changed their view of the GRE. Top business schools started using the test in 2006 as an alternative to the Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT. Today, the GRE is accepted at more than 1,200 business schools world-wide.

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

Legal Education | Permalink


Law schools desperately trying to remove any last remaining hurdles to sales, I mean enrollments, despite legions of unemployed graduates. Must be something about that ginormous trough of 100% risk-free unlimited Federal loan money that the schools get to slop in each time they sign up a student-borrower.

Posted by: Old Ruster from JDJunkyard | Feb 26, 2016 6:39:33 PM

The law schools are as desperate as I am for new legal work, clients and fees and I am out 26 years. Many of my colleagues are in the same shoes. A buddy of mine some how snagged an interview for a legal job and requested a salary of 60K. They looked at him cock eyed. I guess nobody wants to be in our position, including the law schools.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Feb 23, 2016 1:46:21 PM

Standardized tests correlate highly with each other. There's nothing so unique about the LSAT that requires it for law school admissions. The obvious concern, though, is that this becomes a way to lower admissions standards without it becoming obvious at US News or on Law School Transparency. As long as GRE or GMAT scores are included in any release via conversion into their equivalent LSAT score (using percentiles), I don't see the problem.

Posted by: PaulB | Feb 23, 2016 11:34:10 AM

Dean Zearfoss isn't sure what the goal is? Give me a break. The goal is to play a cat-and-mouse game with the ABA and force the ABA to close every single possible loophole as if it were regulating children. When will the ABA realize that it is dealing with bad actors who are not acting in good faith and who do not have the best interests of either their students or the legal profession at heart? The D&E should reassert itself and suspend federal loans to students at these third- and fourth-year scams unless and until the ABA starts doing its job.

Posted by: Corridor | Feb 23, 2016 11:31:48 AM

Law schools can't dabble too much in this without running afoul of Interpretation 503-3 of ABA Standard 503. No more than 10% of a class can be accepted with an alternate entrance exam, AND those students must have scored in the 85th percentile or higher on the SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT, AND they must have either a 3.5 GPA or higher or be in the top 10% of their class through six semesters of undergrad.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 23, 2016 10:32:21 AM