ABA’s Legal Education Council Seeks Comments on Proposed Revision to Law School Admissions Test Requirement

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ABA’s Legal Education Council Seeks Comments on Proposed Revision to Law School Admissions Test Requirement

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A suggested revision to remove the requirement for law school entrance exams will be circulated for review and comment, following a vote on Friday by the ABA Section Council on Legal Education and Bar Admissions. .

“We know that in recent years in higher education, an increasing number of schools have decided to remove the requirement for a particular type of entrance test or to make it optional. What this refers to is a recognition in higher education that there is no one way to identify capable applicants for admission,” said retired Chief Justice Scott Bales. of the Arizona Supreme Court and council member, who sits on the committee suggesting the proposed revision.

If the board reconsiders the matter following notice and comment, the proposed revisions would be submitted to the ABA House of Delegates no earlier than the mid-year meeting in February 2023.

The changes proposed for Standard 503 suggest removing most of its language and adding a sentence that schools “may use” admissions tests. It also suggests that law schools identify in admissions policies any accepted entrance exams.

We will also note and comment on proposed wording changes to Standard 501, which also deals with admissions. The proposed revision suggests requiring law schools to annually assess admissions policies and practices to ensure they meet accreditation standards. The board met Friday in Chicago and votes on the 503 and 501 standards took place in a public session. The two proposals are detailed in a Note of April 25.

Over the past five years, the board has focused on the 503 standard on several occasions. The discussion began in 2016, when some law schools began accepting the graduate record exam in addition to the law school admission test. At the time, ABA-accredited law schools using an admissions test other than the LSAT had to prove that it was valid and reliable.

In 2018, the Educational Testing Service, which is responsible for the GRE, filed a report to the council who claimed that the test accurately predicted freshman grades. That same year, the board approved a review proposal to reduce the 503 standard and revise the 501 standard, to consider admissions credentials and academic attrition when determining compliance. That proposal was withdrawn shortly before a vote by the ABA House of Delegates due to “considerable and organized opposition,” according to the memo from the 2022 standards review committee.

Reviews included a statement of the Minority Network, a group of law school admissions professionals, claiming that the LSAT is the best admissions test to predict whether an applicant will do well in law school.

There were also concerns that eliminating law school entrance exams would hurt diversity.

At the May 20 meeting, Daniel Thies, a Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, private-practice attorney who co-chairs the committee suggesting the revisions, said Standards 205 and 206, both of which address diversity, could address these concerns.

“There are many other safeguards in place, including our own standards, so that law schools don’t allow the elimination of the (admissions) test to threaten diversity,” he said. declared.

Following the Board’s withdrawal of its 2018 revision proposal, in 2021 the council issued a independent assessment of the ETS study. Prepared by the Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Assessment at the University of Iowa, it found that if “certain plausible assumptions” were made, it was possible that the GRE and LSAT could be used “in a defensible and interchangeable” in law school admissions. .

After the assessment was released, the board, in a closed meeting, voted to allow law schools to accept the GRE in admissions, in addition to the LSAT.

The proposed 2022 revisions to standards 503 and 501 were suggested by the Strategic Review Committee, which was recently created to do a “big picture” job, according to a Note of April 19. It was written by Leo Martinez, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law, and Bill Adams, the ABA’s executive director of accreditation and legal education.

Thies and Rebecca White, former dean of the University of Georgia Law School, co-chair the new committee. Thies also chairs the standards review committee, and he will continue to review parts of the standards, according to the memo.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: ‘The ABA’s Board of Legal Education Again Called to Remove Entrance Examination Requirements’

Jon J. Epps