Paul L. Caron

Saturday, May 13, 2023

ABA Pauses Move To Eliminate LSAT Requirement For Admission To Law School

ABA Legal Ed (2022)In April 2022, the Strategic Review Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar proposed eliminating the accreditation standard requiring that all applicants take the LSAT or other standardized test before they can be admitted to law school. In May 2022, the Council voted to send the proposal out for notice and comment. In September 2022,  I joined a letter to the ABA from sixty deans opposing the proposal. In November 2022, the Council approved the proposal with only one dissenting vote. In February 2023, the ABA House of Delegates rejected the proposal. Two weeks later, the Council, again with only one dissenter, voted to re-send the proposal to the ABA House of Delegates for a second vote in August 2023. (Under ABA rules, changes to law school accreditation standards are sent to the House of Delegates for concurrence up to two times, but the Council has the final say.) In April 2023, I joined a letter to the ABA from 125 deans seeking a compromise that would permit law schools to admit up to 25% of an incoming class without taking a standardized test (up from the current 10%). Yesterday, the Council announced a "pause" and said it will not send the proposal to the House of Delegates in August 2023 because "it wants to be sensitive and responsive to the concerns raised by law school deans and other stakeholders."

ABA Journal, Plans For Cutting Admissions Test Requirement Paused by ABA Legal Ed Council:

After receiving letters from various law school deans with concerns about cutting the Law School Admission Test requirement, the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Friday walked back plans to go forward with the proposal in August.

The decision was made Friday—when the council met in Chicago. ...

Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education, addressed the issue Friday. According to him, there are possibilities for different policies and practices that might do a better job at determining who can succeed in law school. ...

“Although the council believes that the proposed amendments to Standards 501 and 503 represent the correct approach to ensure that schools are permitted flexibility to innovate with their admissions policies, it wants to be sensitive and responsive to the concerns raised by law school deans and other stakeholders. The pause announced today will allow the council to evaluate these concerns as it continues to determine what is best for both the law schools and their applicants,” Adams said., ABA Council Hits Pause on Making Law Schools Test-Optional:

The 90-day notice and comment period on amendments to Standards 501 and 503, which ran from May 2022 till Sept. 1, yielded a record 120 comments.

Of the 116 comments (two are unrelated and three are “neutral”), the submitted comments were nearly equally split: 58 in favor of the proposal and 53 opposed.

Reuters, ABA Pauses Move to Nix LSAT Requirement:

LSAT supporters have warned that eliminating the rule would make admissions offices more dependent on subjective measures such as the prestige of an applicant’s college. That could disadvantage minority applicants, they say.

Those who want to get rid of the test requirement have argued that the LSAT is a flawed measure and a barrier for minority would-be lawyers because on average they score below white test-takers. A 2019 study found the average score for Black LSAT takers was 142, compared with 153 for white and Asian test-takers.

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