The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law’s recent decision to accept GRE scores in lieu of Law School Admission Test scores from applicants could cost the school its membership in the Law School Admission Council—the organization that administers the law school exam.
The Council’s Board of Trustees on Friday will consider whether the school is violating its membership eligibility criteria by accepting the alternate test.
“We anticipated that [the council] wouldn’t welcome this with open arms,” said Arizona law dean Marc Miller in an interview Monday. “But we didn’t predict this particular action. This seems like a pretty bald way to punish us for innovating.”
Losing its member status could mean, among other things, that Arizona would be removed as an option for law school applicants when applying to several schools at once.
Arizona announced in February that it will accept GRE scores after an internal study showed GRE scores coupled with undergraduate grade-point average was as reliable as the LSAT in predicting the taker’s success in the first year of law school. Arizona is the first law school to do so, though Wake Forest University School of Law and the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law have also launched studies. The move aims to widen to pool of potential law school applicants.
In an April 4 letter to Miller, Council general counsel Joan Van Tol cited a section of the organization’s bylaws that member schools require “that substantially all of its applicants for admission take the Law School Admission Test.”
“Based on recent press reports, as well as statements made on your website, it appears that the law school no longer requires any of its applicants for admission to take the LSAT,” Van Tol wrote. A council spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter Monday. Every ABA-accredited law school is currently a council member, and being ousted would have a significant negative impact on Arizona, Miller said. Member law schools do not have to pay to use the council’s many programs, such as the Credential Assembly Service that allows prospective students to easily apply to multiple schools. Nonmember law schools must pay to access those services, and the council could make them “cost-prohibitive,” Miller said.
In his April 29 response letter, Miller countered that only a small percentage of Arizona applicants submitted GRE scores this year, and that any move by the council to revoke the school’s membership could violate antitrust laws.
“We do not believe we are out of compliance with the LSAC Bylaws, and we believe the LSAC Board of Trustees would be acting unwisely and perhaps illegally should they remove Arizona as a member of LSAC,” Miller wrote.
The Tucson, Arizona, law school received 1,300 applicants this admissions cycles, and only 35 were from applicants with GRE scores, according to Miller. Of those applicants, only three have committed to enrolling.
The ABA for years has granted special permission for law schools to admit small numbers of undergraduates from a law school’s home campus who had not taken the LSAT, Miller pointed out. And for a short period ending this admission cycle, all law schools were allowed to admit up to 10 percent of their incoming classes from among undergraduates who had not taken the LSAT.
The council did not oust any member schools that offered those programs, Miller wrote.
The law school’s attorneys have also advised that the council would run afoul of antitrust laws should it boot Arizona from its membership, Miller warned. “Given the impact on potential consumers of legal education across the country, our outside legal expert has noted the potential interest of federal and state regulators in the proposed action,” he wrote.
Instead of potentially barring Arizona from membership, the counsel should instead partner with GRE administrator Educational Testing Services to report GRE scores for law school applicants, Miller said. The council already has a similar arrangement for the reporting of the TOEFL, which tests English fluency.
“Does the LSAC Board intend to exclude every school that seeks to broaden, diversify, and further strengthen legal education and the profession in this way?” Miller wrote.