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ABA Withdraws Proposal To Eliminate LSAT

The LSAT will remain the standardized test for law school admissions—at least for now.

Last week, the American Bar Association withdrew a proposal to eliminate the requirement that law schools use the LSAT for admissions, as Law.com reports.

The proposal, which was set to go before the ABA’s House of Delegates for review, had run into pushback from delegates and the council determined that it needed more time to reconsider the measure.

“The concerns that our delegates heard from other members of the house will be reported to the council and the council will determine how it wishes to proceed,” Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of legal education, tells Law.com.

What The Decision Means

A number of schools have already opted to open up options for alternative tests outside of the LSAT, such as the GRE.

While the decision over the LSAT was withdrawn, Currier says alternate exams can still be used, if a school can demonstrate that the alternative exam is valid and reliable.

“If a law school permits an applicant to submit a test score other than the LSAT, then, under Interpretation 503-1, the school has the burden, if and when asked, to demonstrate that the score is on a test that is a ‘valid and reliable’ and that will assist the school in assessing whether an applicant appears capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar,” Currier tells the ABA Journal.

One of the ways law schools are looking to test for validity and reliability of an exam is through validity tests. Yet, there’s confusion on how school-specific these studies should be.

Marc Miller, dean of the University of Arizona College of Law, says U of A College of Law submitted a GRE validity study to the ABA in 2016.

“My understanding is that the [section’s] council has taken the position that you don’t know if the test is valid or reliable until you see how people do,” Miller tells the ABA Journal. “They don’t plan to hire any experts to assess these things, so long as they believe that the work was done with credible methodology and good faith, but [the section] reserves the right to make a judgment.”

William Treanor, dean of Georgetown University Law Center, says Georgetown also submitted a GRE validity study to the ABA section. The study examined first-year Georgetown Law students between 2005 and 2016 and found that the GRE was a slightly better predictor of how students performed than the LSAT. But, according to Treanor, the law school has yet to hear back from the section.

“We submitted our study about a year ago,” Treanor tells the ABA Journal.” I don’t know what their process is for reviewing it. I don’t know that we’ve heard an answer definitively from them.”

Law Schools That Have Opened Up To GRE  

With the LSAT decision being withdrawn, a number of law deans predict that fewer schools will now accept alternative exams outside the LSAT, according to the ABA Journal.

Since July, 23 school in total have opted to accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT.

See the updated list below:

  • Brigham Young University Law School
  • Brooklyn Law School
  • Columbia Law School
  • Cornell Law School
  • Florida State University College of Law
  • George Washington Law School
  • Georgetown Law
  • Harvard Law School
  • Illinois Institute of Technology College of Law
  • John Marshall Law School
  • New York University Law
  • Northwestern University School of Law
  • Pace University School of Law
  • St. John’s University School of Law
  • Texas A&M School of Law
  • University of Arizona College of Law
  • University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • University of Hawaii School of Law
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • University of Southern California Law School
  • Wake Forest School of Law
  • Washington University School of Law
  • Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law

Sources: Law.com, ABA Journal, Princeton Review