Tuesday, July 12, 2022
Bloomberg Opinion: RIP to the LSAT? Let’s Kill the Bar Exam, Too, by Stephen L. Carter (Yale):
Should law school applicants still have to take the LSAT? A proposal by a committee of the American Bar Association would eliminate the longstanding rule that accredited law schools must require prospective students to take a “valid and reliable test” as part of the application process. If the LSAT is axed, maybe the bar exam should be next.
The recommendation to eliminate the admissions testing requirement comes amidst cascading charges that reliance on the Law School Admission Test hurts minority applicants. The proposition is sharply contested by many friends of diversity. Some find it stigmatizing to be told they can’t do as well on the test as White applicants. But given that the case against the test appears to have persuaded the wordily named Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the LSAT does indeed represent an unfair barrier to entry to the legal profession.
Why doesn’t the same argument apply to the bar examination?
Except in Wisconsin, nobody can practice law without passing the bar examination. Some states — California is the most prominent — require even lawyers who are licensed elsewhere to pass an examination if they want to move into the jurisdiction. Such rules function as classic barriers to entry, easily manipulated to keep the supply of lawyers low. ...
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against standardized testing in every circumstance. For example, I’d support a plan under which the bar authorities would follow the medical profession in requiring a certification process before members can market themselves as specialists in particular fields. But there’s no persuasive justification for forcing graduates of accredited law schools to jump through yet another hoop before they’re allowed to practice their trade.