Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Inside Higher Ed, Do Law Schools Limit Black Enrollment With LSAT?:
An increasing number of undergraduate colleges — looking to attract more applicants and to diversify their applicant pools — have been going test optional in admissions.
Law schools also worry about attracting more applicants and diversifying their student bodies. Some have started accepting the Graduate Record Exam as an alternative to the Law School Admission Test, but the LSAT remains the dominant test in law school admissions. Concerns about diversity in legal education could grow if -- in a future Supreme Court decision -- colleges face new limits or an outright ban on their ability to consider race in admissions.
A new study argues that law schools' use of the LSAT is effectively limiting black enrollment in law schools [The Marginalization of Black Aspiring Lawyers, 32 FIU L. Rev. 489 (2019)]. The study is by Aaron N. Taylor, executive director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence and a longtime expert on diversity in legal education. ...
Melissa Harris Thirsk, vice president and chief marketing officer of the Law School Admissions Council, which sponsors the LSAT, disputed Taylor's conclusions. She noted that the council supports efforts to provide free test preparation and academic advising for minority (and other) potential law school applicants. Thirsk disputed the idea that the LSAT is responsible for black law school applicants being rejected.
"To help improve the representation of African Americans in law school student bodies, it is important to understand the factors that are keeping acceptance rates somewhat lower than rates among other groups and then to develop strategies to alter those factors," she wrote. "The trends we have observed in applications from African American candidates that affect outcomes include the factors that Mr. Taylor identifies such as submitting applications late in the application cycle and LSAT scores that fall in lower bands. We see other factors as well such as [grades] and age at time of application."