Lowering The Bar



Imagine that classic elementary school scene. You have a group of students at recess who are picking teams for kickball. As you’d expect, the athletically inclined kids are chosen first. High-fives are swapped, as the nerds agonizingly wait for their names to be called.

Turns out, this happens in adult world, too. Just switch the kids anxiously waiting with law school applicants. Instead of athletic prowess, they are being chosen based on LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs (Call it revenge of the nerds).

Let’s go back to the playground. Imagine you only have a few Michael Jordan clones, with the rest being nose pickers with untied shoes. That’s basically what law schools are experiencing now based on an Inside Higher Ed report about some more Jerome Organ research. There are seemingly more spots than talent these days.

The number is 145. It is the forbidden LSAT score. If you score 145 or lower, you traditionally wouldn’t have a chance at law school admissions. But this is 2015. And now your odds are good of stepping on campus with such scores. According to the research, no school had a class with a median LSAT score of less than 145 five years ago. This past year, seven schools had medians less than 145.

What’s more, now some schools are fighting over those students. In fact, some are actually receiving scholarships and other tuition reductions. In 2010, 136 schools had a median LSAT of 155 or higher. This year, the number was 101 schools.

This is where the ethical dilemma comes into play. Some students with low undergraduate GPAs and LSAT scores still feel like they can succeed as a law student and an attorney. They are willing to take on heavy debt at whatever school to prove that point. Knowing the LSAT is designed to be a predictor of 1L and potentially bar success, do law schools have a moral obligation not to admit students they are essentially setting up for failure? If so, how do they balance this obligation knowing they need those tuition dollars to keep their schools afloat.

So the question remains. Should law schools (especially those that traditionally lead their students into large debt and minimal job opportunities) lower their admissions standards? Only if they want to field a metaphorical kickball team of Steve Urkels.

Source: Inside Higher Ed