ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

imalongshot
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ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby imalongshot » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:17 am

http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... 2477851996

The Law School Admissions Test is a rite of passage for aspiring lawyers, but could go from mandatory to voluntary under proposed changes to the American Bar Association's law school accreditation standards.

The committee reviewing the standards is leaning toward dropping the rule that law schools require J.D. applicants to take a "valid and reliable admission test," chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, said on Wednesday.

"A substantial portion of the committee believes that provision should be repealed," said Polden, noting that about 10 law schools already have waivers from the ABA allowing them to admit some students who haven't taken the LSAT.

Much of the committee's LSAT debate has focused on the proper role of the ABA in the regulation of law school admissions, said Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen, who sits on the standards review committee.

"I think an accrediting body ought to ensure that law schools are producing students who can enter the practice," he said, noting that he personally is on the fence about the LSAT requirement. "Is taking a standardized test the only way to determine if someone should be able to go to law school? Schools ought to be able to decide how they want to admit students."

Yellen said committee members have also questioned whether the ABA should be making rules that financially benefit the Law School Admission Council—the organization that administers the LSAT.

"It's a wealthy institution," Yellen said. "So many people take the LSAT. Why is the ABA ensuring its future success?"

The admission council has not taken a position on the committee's proposal, said spokeswomen Wendy Margolis, but council President Daniel Bernstine did address the committee during a meeting last year. "It would be inappropriate and premature of us to comment before a decision has been made by the committee," Margolis said.Dropping the LSAT requirement would be unlikely to prompt many schools to abandon the test. Both Polden and Yellen believe that most schools would continue to require the LSAT, in part because it is the most reliable way to measure applicants against each other and make merit-based financial aid decisions.

"I think most schools would keep it," Yellen said. "It gives you an indication of how prepared people are for law school. On the other side, getting rid of the test would be yet another way for law schools to game the U.S. News rankings, but I don't think the ABA should take U.S. News into account when making these decisions."

The committee is still in the relatively early stages of discussing the LSAT. It is closer to finalizing its recommendations in several other areas, including so-called "student learning outcomes." Law schools would be evaluated based on what students learn rather than input measures, such as the size of law libraries or faculty-to-student ratios. That matter was discussed during a two-day committee meeting last weekend.

The learning outcomes standards should be ready for presentation to the ABA's Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in the summer, Polden said. That council must approve all changes to the accreditation standards.

The committee is still debating other controversial topics, including security of position and tenure for faculty and law school governance.

The draft standards would require law schools to define their educational mission and learning goals for graduating students—a significant departure from the existing standards, which rely on more easily quantifiable measures such as bar passage rates. The draft would require schools to develop assessment methods that would "provide meaningful feedback to students." The schools would assess whether students are attaining the stated educational goals, although the proposal does not specifically define what those goals should be or how they should be measured.

"We are trying to make sure that as we move into this very different way of evaluating schools by assessing student learning outcomes, that we give them a lot of flexibility," Polden said. "The provision is quite general, but the idea is for schools to have leeway."

Too much leeway could be a problem, said Ian Weinstein, the associate dean for clinical programs at Fordham University School of Law and the president of the Clinical Legal Education Association. The association has advocated for stronger, more detailed standards for the learning outcomes of individual students. The committee draft places more focus on the effectiveness of the law school as a whole, rather than on individual students, he said.

"The current version gives schools a lot of room to define mission and outcomes," Weinstein said. The clinical association "has expressed real concern about that all along. In our view, we'd like those learning outcomes to be considerably more specific."

Weinstein believes it would be imprudent to move too far from the existing measures such as faculty-to-student ratios if the new standards don't create strong enough output requirements.

One change the association supports is beefing up the existing requirement that all students take at least one externship, clinic or simulation course.

The committee is still working on the standards that pertain to tenure and security of position, but members largely agree that tenure should be encouraged if not required by the ABA, Polden said. The committee has interpreted the existing accreditation standards to mean that tenure is not a requirement, although many legal academics disagree with that interpretation.

The committee is struggling with changes to law school governance standards, Polden said. It is considering a new standard that law schools require full-time faculty members to participate in governance and decision-making. This would help to eliminate the exclusion of some clinical, legal writing and other non-tenure track positions from hiring decisions and other governance issues, he said.

The committee will hold a public hearing on all of these proposals during its next meeting April 2 in Chicago. Those proposals are posted on the ABA's Web site. Individuals and groups wishing to comment will be asked to register ahead of time to speak during the three-hour public comment session, Polden said.

Karen Sloan can be contacted at ksloan@alm.com.

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joebloe
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby joebloe » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:23 am

Dropping the LSAT requirement would be unlikely to prompt many schools to abandon the test. Both Polden and Yellen believe that most schools would continue to require the LSAT, in part because it is the most reliable way to measure applicants against each other and make merit-based financial aid decisions.


I totally agree with this part.

What would interest me, however, is if YHS dropped their LSAT requirement in favor of brutal in-house entrance exams.

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piccolittle
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby piccolittle » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:50 am

joebloe wrote:
Dropping the LSAT requirement would be unlikely to prompt many schools to abandon the test. Both Polden and Yellen believe that most schools would continue to require the LSAT, in part because it is the most reliable way to measure applicants against each other and make merit-based financial aid decisions.


I totally agree with this part.

What would interest me, however, is if YHS dropped their LSAT requirement in favor of brutal in-house entrance exams.


I would enjoy that.

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servo
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby servo » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:00 am

piccolittle wrote:
joebloe wrote:
Dropping the LSAT requirement would be unlikely to prompt many schools to abandon the test. Both Polden and Yellen believe that most schools would continue to require the LSAT, in part because it is the most reliable way to measure applicants against each other and make merit-based financial aid decisions.


I totally agree with this part.

What would interest me, however, is if YHS dropped their LSAT requirement in favor of brutal in-house entrance exams.


I would enjoy that.


Sign me up. I would rather deal with the one school I actually want to go to and avoid the waiting and pandering to all the others.

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LSAT Blog
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby LSAT Blog » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:25 am

Then there's these folks, who want to create an exam to serve as an alternative to the LSAT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/education/11lsat.html

--LinkRemoved--

amonynous_ivdinidual
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby amonynous_ivdinidual » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:30 am

the test would still be required de facto.

and why would anyone want to go to a system where each school has its own admission test? you're sacrificing a lot of leverage by going through that process for a smaller number of schools. the system as it is right now is built to reward high-lsat scorers. if you do well, you have a lot of power to negotiate a good deal for yourself. if you score well on an in-house exam, how would that help you to negotiate merit aid? it isn't as though that score is worth anything to a peer school. maybe the acceptance at school X could influence school Y to make a move w/ money. but i still say leave well enough alone.

tomwatts
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby tomwatts » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:48 pm

We could end up in an SAT/ACT world for law exams, in which there are two different exams that you can take. It is sort of strange that you have options for undergrad (and can even circumvent the tests entirely in some cases) but don't have options for higher-level study (except sometimes business schools accept either the GRE or the GMAT).

At the same time, counseling students becomes that much more complicated: "Well, first we have to determine which test you want to take. Which one are scoring better in now? Take a practice test of each and we'll see. Then, which one do we think you can improve in more? Let's do a little bit of prep for each and find out. Okay, now we've selected a test, so you can begin to study."

No matter what, nothing's going to change for a long while. At least not at any school that anyone wants to go to; I bet some tier 4 schools would drop the LSAT as a requirement just to get more applicants. And I bet some unaccredited schools could get accreditation after the change.

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suspicious android
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby suspicious android » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:36 pm

tomwatts wrote:No matter what, nothing's going to change for a long while. At least not at any school that anyone wants to go to; I bet some tier 4 schools would drop the LSAT as a requirement just to get more applicants. And I bet some unaccredited schools could get accreditation after the change.


Sounds about right. Anyway, as someone who derives a significant portion of my income from LSAT tutoring, I will join in the chorus of "There's nothing to see here, LSAT will not be going away, keep prepping!!"

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KevinP
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby KevinP » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:41 pm

This is about as likely as them switching the LSAT from a hand-written to a computer-based exam, which they've been considering for a while now. Possible, but not anytime in the foreseeable future.

Sandro
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby Sandro » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:50 pm

maybe its a move to allow TTTT schools to not use the LSAT, further decreasing their barriers to admit as many applicants as possible regardless of their aptitude to study law. The LSAT scares a lot of applicants especially those who will probably end up scoring below a 150 (ie half of all takers, TLS) and if they could just apply in a matter of minutes without having to study/take lsat/wait 1 month for scores and pay LSAC more money I would bet applications would skyrocket at some schools.

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KevinP
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby KevinP » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:57 pm

Sandro777 wrote:maybe its a move to allow TTTT schools to not use the LSAT, further decreasing their barriers to admit as many applicants as possible regardless of their aptitude to study law. The LSAT scares a lot of applicants especially those who will probably end up scoring below a 150 (ie half of all takers, TLS) and if they could just apply in a matter of minutes without having to study/take lsat/wait 1 month for scores and pay LSAC more money I would bet applications would skyrocket at some schools.


That's actually one of my fears; more debt-laden law grads being admitted into an already scarce market.

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joebloe
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby joebloe » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:04 pm

Sandro777 wrote:maybe its a move to allow TTTT schools to not use the LSAT, further decreasing their barriers to admit as many applicants as possible regardless of their aptitude to study law. The LSAT scares a lot of applicants especially those who will probably end up scoring below a 150 (ie half of all takers, TLS) and if they could just apply in a matter of minutes without having to study/take lsat/wait 1 month for scores and pay LSAC more money I would bet applications would skyrocket at some schools.


I wonder what this would do to USNWR rankings. Like with foreign applicants with no reportable GPA not affecting a school's averages. And then, how TTT/TTTT schools will use it to game their rankings.

I mean, imagine this: you admit 90% people with no LSAT scores, and everyone else you require to have at least a 170, and you give unconditional full rides with stipends to those people. Your LSAT average shoots up, and you can look more selective by turning down people with what would be decent LSATs for low T2 schools that require it.

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KevinP
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby KevinP » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:10 pm

joebloe wrote:I wonder what this would do to USNWR rankings. Like with foreign applicants with no reportable GPA not affecting a school's averages. And then, how TTT/TTTT schools will use it to game their rankings.

I mean, imagine this: you admit 90% people with no LSAT scores, and everyone else you require to have at least a 170, and you give unconditional full rides with stipends to those people. Your LSAT average shoots up, and you can look more selective by turning down people with what would be decent LSATs for low T2 schools that require it.


What about the Cooley rankings? Maybe they'll finally be able to jump from T12 to T6 by gaming their own rankings.

In all seriousness, the LSAT may be far from perfect but making the LSAT optional is just a recipe for disaster.

Aqualibrium
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby Aqualibrium » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:16 pm

Would rankings really even matter in a world with no lsat?

The schools that were traditionally the best would still be the best, and they'd find a way to ensure that they'd be getting the very best candidates. Every other school would be what they all should be, good for certain people who want to work in a certain region.

jasonc.
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby jasonc. » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:17 pm

Sandro777 wrote:maybe its a move to allow TTTT schools to not use the LSAT, further decreasing their barriers to admit as many applicants as possible regardless of their aptitude to study law.


lol, who knew that the Law School Admissions test did that? the test is not the best but it would be really difficult to figure the right candidates without some kind of standardized test I think they should keep it mandatory.

taxguy
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby taxguy » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:21 pm

Although I did well on the LSAT when I took it many years ago, I honestly think that it the biggest piece of crap regarding predicability in law school. This is particularly true for the latest iteration of the exam that came about in the past 25 years or so.
Every lawyer that I know agrees with this. What is shocking is that the law schools don't get it. I know far too many people who did very badly on the test, yet did very well in law school. Likewise, I have seen folks who did well on the test bomb law school. I just can't believe there is any corelation between law school performance and a tightly timed, crappy test.

What I find interesting in the cited article is the following quote from the ABA panel,"The committee reviewing the standards is leaning toward dropping the rule that law schools require J.D. applicants to take a "valid and reliable admission test," chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, said on Wednesday."

Obviously, even they realize that the LSAT isn't very valid or reliable for admisson.

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typ3
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby typ3 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:58 pm

taxguy wrote:Although I did well on the LSAT when I took it many years ago, I honestly think that it the biggest piece of crap regarding predicability in law school. This is particularly true for the latest iteration of the exam that came about in the past 25 years or so.
Every lawyer that I know agrees with this. What is shocking is that the law schools don't get it. I know far too many people who did very badly on the test, yet did very well in law school. Likewise, I have seen folks who did well on the test bomb law school. I just can't believe there is any corelation between law school performance and a tightly timed, crappy test.

What I find interesting in the cited article is the following quote from the ABA panel,"The committee reviewing the standards is leaning toward dropping the rule that law schools require J.D. applicants to take a "valid and reliable admission test," chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, said on Wednesday."

Obviously, even they realize that the LSAT isn't very valid or reliable for admisson.



Sure, you hear the same thing all the time with SAT/ACT's and college.

However, every lawyer I've talked to says to not get rid of the LSAT. What it does correlate with is ability to perform under pressure. Unless I am wrong, law school exams and the bar are both tests that are pressure cookers. If you can't stand the heat, you shouldn't be headed to law school.

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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby AverageTutoring » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:18 pm

Something to consider is that McGill University – one of Canada’s premier schools – doesn’t require applicants to take the LSAT. The only requirement is that if you do take it you are compelled to report your score. They turn out law school graduates that find work in all facets of Canadian law and place very well on Bay Street – Canada’s equivalent of Wall Street.

Just to throw it out there! I doubt it would work as well in the States but surely there is a possibility! As an aside, if the LSAT goes to computer format I will shoot a duck.

d34d9823
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby d34d9823 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:23 pm

taxguy wrote:Although I did well on the LSAT when I took it many years ago, I honestly think that it the biggest piece of crap regarding predicability in law school. This is particularly true for the latest iteration of the exam that came about in the past 25 years or so.
Every lawyer that I know agrees with this. What is shocking is that the law schools don't get it. I know far too many people who did very badly on the test, yet did very well in law school. Likewise, I have seen folks who did well on the test bomb law school. I just can't believe there is any corelation between law school performance and a tightly timed, crappy test.

What I find interesting in the cited article is the following quote from the ABA panel,"The committee reviewing the standards is leaning toward dropping the rule that law schools require J.D. applicants to take a "valid and reliable admission test," chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, said on Wednesday."

Obviously, even they realize that the LSAT isn't very valid or reliable for admisson.

To quote chup:

TLS, where the plural of anecdote is data.

Aqualibrium
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby Aqualibrium » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:53 pm

AverageTutoring wrote:Something to consider is that McGill University – one of Canada’s premier schools – doesn’t require applicants to take the LSAT. The only requirement is that if you do take it you are compelled to report your score. They turn out law school graduates that find work in all facets of Canadian law and place very well on Bay Street – Canada’s equivalent of Wall Street.

Just to throw it out there! I doubt it would work as well in the States but surely there is a possibility! As an aside, if the LSAT goes to computer format I will shoot a duck.



Don't you also need what amounts to a fucking rock star/genius/neurosurgeon gpa to get into the better Canadian law schools?

Also, everyone knows that McGill is the Harvard of Canada (that's what all my McGilligan friends tell me anyway).

acirilli1722
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby acirilli1722 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:05 pm

taxguy wrote:Although I did well on the LSAT when I took it many years ago, I honestly think that it the biggest piece of crap regarding predicability in law school. This is particularly true for the latest iteration of the exam that came about in the past 25 years or so.
Every lawyer that I know agrees with this. What is shocking is that the law schools don't get it. I know far too many people who did very badly on the test, yet did very well in law school. Likewise, I have seen folks who did well on the test bomb law school. I just can't believe there is any corelation between law school performance and a tightly timed, crappy test.

What I find interesting in the cited article is the following quote from the ABA panel,"The committee reviewing the standards is leaning toward dropping the rule that law schools require J.D. applicants to take a "valid and reliable admission test," chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, said on Wednesday."

Obviously, even they realize that the LSAT isn't very valid or reliable for admisson.


It may not be a great predictor of success in law school but they do need to use something. Relying only on GPA would be terrible since not all schools/majors are equal so you can't really compare two students based on undergrad GPA. Plus I think law schools know that LSAT scores don't predict success but they take students with higher scores to improve their ranking. I could see changing the LSAT but not eliminating it.

Aqualibrium
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby Aqualibrium » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:12 pm

Imagine what would happen if law school admissions were based on UG GPA/SAT or ACT. It would essentially ensure that, barring a few exceptions, only the people that went to the top undergraduate schools could get into the top law schools. The LSAT, in spite of all its failings, at least levels the playing field to some extent. We all know it's an incredibly learnable test; if you've got the time to prep for it you basically control your destiny.
Last edited by Aqualibrium on Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

d34d9823
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby d34d9823 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:12 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:Also, everyone knows that McGill is the Harvard of Canada (that's what all my McGilligan friends tell me anyway).

Yes, but Canada is the Canada of Canada.

Camron
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Re: ABA panel considering making the LSAT optional

Postby Camron » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:40 am

AverageTutoring wrote:Something to consider is that McGill University – one of Canada’s premier schools – doesn’t require applicants to take the LSAT. The only requirement is that if you do take it you are compelled to report your score. They turn out law school graduates that find work in all facets of Canadian law and place very well on Bay Street – Canada’s equivalent of Wall Street.

Just to throw it out there! I doubt it would work as well in the States but surely there is a possibility! As an aside, if the LSAT goes to computer format I will shoot a duck.


Canada also doesn't have any "Cooley law schools" either. Law education in Canada is pretty much equivalent, regardless of where you go. Sure UofT/Osgoode/McGill/UBC are better schools, but they aren't world apart from the worst Canadian law school in comparison to the states. The lowest entrance requirements for the crappiest law school in Canada (Maritimes) would only amount to a rank 40-50 law school in the USA. Everywhere else you need a minimum of 160 with a 3.7-3.8 GPA.




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