It appears the Law School Admission Test is here to stay as a requirement to get into law school.
The American Bar Association’s Standards Review Committee, which has been evaluating the law school accreditation standards, caused a stir in 2011 when some members advocated dropping the requirement that schools use a "valid and reliable admission test"—in practice, the LSAT.
But support for change has waned over time. Now the ABA’s Council of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has primarily endorsed retaining the LSAT requirement.
"The report [from the Standards Review Committee] offered an alternative, but it suggested that the Council choose between the two and it recommended keeping the LSAT requirement," said Barry Currier, the ABA’s interim consultant on legal education.
The council on March 16 followed the committee’s recommendation and preliminarily endorsed retaining the LSAT requirement. The council is seeking public comment on that and other aspects of Chapters 2 and 5 of the accreditation standards, of which the LSAT requirement was the most controversial. (Those two chapters address law school governance and admissions.)
"People can still write in with commentary, critiques or suggesting changes," Currier said. There likely will be several public hearings before the final council vote about one year from now, Currier said.
Still, the council vote indicates widespread support for continued use of the LSAT. The idea of doing away with the LSAT requirement rested on the premise that law schools should enjoy flexibility. Some argued that it is not the proper role of the ABA to endorse a specific test or maintain rules that financially benefit the Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT.
Advocates for the LSAT cited research indicating the test is the most reliable indicator of who will succeed during the first year of law school, and evidence that most law schools would continue to require the test even if the ABA dropped its mandate.
Retaining the existing admissions rules would still allow some flexibility for law schools, however. The standards now provide that schools must use a test that is valid and reliable, but does not mandate the LSAT. Law schools must obtain a variance from the ABA to use any other standardized test, such as the SAT.
Some schools have won permission to use other tests, although Currier said confidentiality rules prevent the ABA from identifying those schools or even the number of school with waivers.
Contact Karen Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more of The National Law Journal’s law school coverage, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NLJLawSchools.