The timely article by Angela Morris, “Can the GRE Cure What Ails Law Schools?” (New York Law Journal, Dec. 1, 2017), highlights a development that is part of a much larger trend in legal education. Law schools everywhere are thoughtfully examining every aspect of legal education from snout to tail and, where warranted, are considering prudent changes to assure that their students will succeed in a rapidly changing marketplace for new lawyers.
Like most fields, law and policymaking have been forever altered by advances in technology, economic change, and the increasingly global nature of law, which have significantly broadened the universe of skills and backgrounds necessary for the legal services industry to be truly responsive to society’s changing needs. The way in which we attract and comprehensively evaluate our prospective law students must change as well. The GRE provides another objective measure that is widely used in graduate education by which we can assess an applicant’s potential to succeed in both law school and professionally.
The 15 schools as of this writing—now including Brooklyn Law School—that already have started to use the GREs to evaluate applicants, and the inevitable large number of law schools that soon no doubt will join them, are taking a sensible step that is long overdue.
Accepting the GRE for admission encourages talented, highly able students from diverse backgrounds—including those in the sciences, technology, engineering, and medicine—who have not taken LSATs but are interested in pursuing a law degree to consider applying to law school.
Accepting the GRE also provides flexibility—as well as potential time and cost savings—for those for whom preparation for multiple advanced studies admissions exams is not feasible. Further, the GRE is administered more frequently and more widely, making this part of the admissions process more accessible to potential applicants.
One aspect of Morris’ article must be refuted: The assertion by Kellye Testy, President and CEO of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), which administers the LSAT, that schools have been motivated to accept GREs to game the US News system is simply wrong. US News ranks many other types of graduate and undergraduate schools that have more than one type of entrance exam, and they will use a similar formula to account for law schools that accept both LSATs and GREs for admission. This is what Robert Morse, who runs the US News rankings, told us two years ago during a face-to-face meeting in his Washington, D.C. office when the subject of GREs arose.
Use of the GRE by law schools may well give the LSAT monopoly some competition, but competition and choice are good things. Then it is the responsibility of each law school to establish appropriate criteria for admitting candidates based on GREs in a measured, thoughtful way.
Nicholas W. Allard is president and dean of Brooklyn Law School.