Following up on Sunday's post, The Empire Strikes Back: LSAC Threatens To Expel University Of Arizona Over Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions: Letter, From 148 Law School Deans to LSAC President Dan Bernstine (May 3, 2016):
We write as law school deans to express our great concern over LSAC’s threat to expel the University of Arizona Law School because it experimented with using the GRE as a small part of its admissions process. Experimentation benefits all of us. We all expect to learn from the University of Arizona’s experiment and it should not be punished by LSAC.
Most importantly, we strongly urge that the Board of Trustees allow the University of Arizona to remain a member of the Council. Expelling it for this is unwarranted under the existing rules and sends a terrible message to law schools about experimentation in the admissions process. Also, as deans at ABA accredited law schools and members of the LSAC Council, we urge the LSAC Board of Trustees to modify the provision of LSAC Bylaws Article I, Section 1, which “requires that substantially all of its applicants for admission” take the LSAT. The rule should be changed to allow experimentation with alternative tests.
If the LSAC Board of Trustees goes forward with its threat to remove the University of Arizona Law as a member, we hereby invoke the authority under the By-Laws to request a special meeting of members of the Council. The By-Laws require that this be set and noticed 10 days after the action of the Board of Trustees. Article I, Section 7.
This is a matter of great importance to us as law school deans. We appreciate the LSAC’s consideration of our views.
David Yellen (Dean, Loyola-Chicago), Should LSAC and the ABA Demand Fealty to the LSAT (Or Any Other Test)?:
There are many problems with LSAC's threat against Arizona, but I will simply mention three:
- I am no antitrust expert, but this rule sure smells bad.
- Why has LSAC not previously enforced this rule against schools that obtained LSAT waivers from the ABA, or admitted students from their own institutions without LSAT scores under the now-defunct "10% Rule"?
- I cannot think of a rationalization for this rule that is in the interests of legal education and the law schools that make up the membership of LSAC.
Wall Street Journal, Law Deans Unite to Support Arizona Law’s GRE Acceptance:
An LSAC spokeswoman took issue with the deans’ letter. In a comment Wednesday to Law Blog, spokeswoman Wendy Margolis said, “We have received the letter, but want to emphasize that our inquiry to the University of Arizona Law School was a request for clarification on the law school’s new policy, which we had only learned about through media reports. To characterize this as a ‘threat’ is unfortunate.”
She added that LSAC’s board plans to discuss the issue Friday at its regular meeting and that “We can assure our members, and everyone in the law school community, that we are taking all perspectives into account as we consider these issues.”
If the LSAT-maker moves forward with its plan to boot Arizona Law, the deans say they plan to request a special meeting of members of the council, as allowed under the organization’s bylaws.
Above the Law, Law School Deans Fight Back Against The Tyranny Of The LSAT:
When 148 law school deans all come together to say something, you’d better listen — especially if you administer the Law School Admission Test. ... There are lots of reasons to be opposed to the way the LSAT is administered, particularly when compared with the GRE: it is still on paper, inconveniently scheduled, and has little motivation to change with the times. LSAC has managed to consolidate quite a bit of power in the law school admissions game, and they are not looking to share that anytime soon. ...
I understand the deans’ reaction to the heavy-handed way LSAC handled the situation, but I think it is important to consider the repercussions on the legal industry. ...
Opening up law school to students who are not motivated to take the LSAT opens up the number of students who may unwittingly sign up for three years of staggering debt against the backdrop of a wilting job market. Or students who are not prepared for the academic rigor of law school. Being a lawyer is a crappy “back up plan” for a career. It costs too much, there aren’t enough jobs to go around, and the industry is overdue for fundamental changes to its business model. If you really want to be a lawyer, even knowing all this, then godspeed, I truly wish you the best. But if you are considering it because you are floundering at life, and what the hell you already took the GRE in case you wanted to apply to a PhD program in experimental theater design, then do not go. It isn’t a good idea. Making it easier for undecided or unmotivated students to go to law school because, eh, what the hell, isn’t good for the long-term health of the profession.
Which, of course, doesn’t mean schools should blindly follow the lead of LSAC. If this whole scuffle leads to some honest conversations about the law school process and what is best for law schools, law students, and the profession as a whole, then maybe it is for the best.