The American Bar Association voted last month to eliminate the Law School Admission Test requirement for law schools, effective 2025.
The LSAT will continue to be required for all law schools across the country until the fall of 2024 as schools need time to plan for new ways of admitting their new students, according to a Reuters article.
As mentioned in the article, both the organizations that design the LSAT and GRE tests, as well as almost 60 deans of American law schools, pushed for the ABA to keep the testing requirements in place.
In a letter to the ABA, a group of law school deans wrote that if students were no longer required to take the LSAT, schools would be less likely to accept students with low grades and extenuating circumstances.
“Without the LSAT as a factor,” read the letter, “law schools may be less willing to take a chance on students who do not perform well on GPA or other metrics because they worked to put themselves through school, had to care for family, or other reasons, but would enhance the diversity of our institutions and ultimately the profession.”
The letter also explained that many first generation college students, who might have lower grades, have been using their high LSAT scores to give them an advantage in the law school admissions process.
“Students who struggle early in college, which sometimes happens with first generation college students, may have lower initial grades and thus overall lower grade point averages,” the letter said. “Test scores may help these students, both in determining which schools they should consider and in gaining admission.”
ABA member Daniel Thies said the goal of lifting the testing requirement is to find alternate ways of conducting admissions processes.
“The goal is to open up innovation—finding other ways that might complement the current admissions processes to move us ahead in legal education on diversity and a host of other considerations,” said Thies.
According to the article, the ABA council’s decision regarding testing is not final as it has yet to go through evaluation by the ABA’s House of Delegates, which is expected to take place in February.
University of Connecticut School of Law Dean Eboni S. Nelson labeled the proposed elimination of required testing an “intricate issue,” saying she understands the concerns about keeping the testing requirement as well as the need for an objective measurement of legal knowledge.
“On one hand, I can understand that there are concerns about having a standardized testing requirement…because currently, the American Bar Association is the only professional accreditation body that currently requires an admissions test,” Nelson said in an interview. “…But it’s also important to think about the reasons why having an admissions test has been required in the past and why it was first initiated, which was to have an objective measure to assess when looking at law school admissions.”
Nelson mentioned that prior to the implementation of the LSAT requirement, generally subjective measures were used to evaluate applications, such as legacy preference, the type of undergraduate program the student graduated from and who their letters of recommendation were written by.
“[With] these types of more subjective measures, there’s a concern that there may be a return to those kinds of things if we do away with looking at a more objective measure, even though that objective measure [LSAT scores] is by no means perfect,” Nelson added.
Nelson said it is important to note that even when the ABA’s proposal is finalized, law schools will have the option as to whether or not the LSAT or GRE will be considered “an admissions metric.” Therefore, the UConn School of Law has not yet decided if the LSAT will still be required in future years.
Regardless of the use of LSAT scores in the admissions process, Nelson said UConn Law has always looked at applications with a holistic approach.
“Even without the consideration of an LSAT, we will still take a very holistic review of applicants to look at what other types of attributes they have to contribute to our community,” Nelson added. “The LSAT is just simply one measure and one metric amongst a whole host of metrics and criteria that we look at.”