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Law School Reform Leads To Relaxed LSAT Requirements
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Law School Reform Leads To Relaxed LSAT Requirements

Summary: The American Bar Association has announced that it will allow law schools to loosen their LSAT policies.

Traditionally acing the LSAT’s illusory logical reasoning questions and difficult essays would ensure that you would be admitted to the law school of your choice.


Throughout the years, passing the LSAT is becoming extremely challenging. To help law schools with this problem the American Bar Association (ABA) has announced a 2014 rule that will allow law schools to loosen their LSAT polices.

The ABA will allow 10 percent of students applying to law schools to be admitted without having to take the LSAT. But there is a catch. Applicants have to matriculate from the university’s undergraduate population and have to pursue an additional graduate degree in addition to their J.D.

According to the ABA, “Applicants admitted must have scored at the 85th percentile nationally, or above, on a standardized college or graduate admissions test, specifically the ACT, SAT, GRE, or GMAT; and must have ranked in the top 10% of their undergraduate class through six semesters of academic work, or achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above through six semesters of academic work.”

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Drake University School of Law, the University of Iowa College of Law, and St. John’s University School of Law have announced that they are going to implement this new policy.

The ADA’s reasoning for this action is to allow law schools that have experienced a decrease in applicants promote their law school to their undergraduates. However, this is not intended to make law school easier to be admitted to overall.

James Gardner, interim dean of the University at Buffalo-SUNY School of Law said, “We will have, now, a tiny bit of discretion in how we admit people.” He announced that his school would change its admission policies to reflect the new ABA rule. He also states, “It is by no means giving anybody carte blanche to admit whoever they want.”

Applicants who decide to apply to law schools that embrace the ADA’s new policy will still have to demonstrate that they are eligible for admission in alternative ways. “We look at their transcript. We look at their letters of reference. There’s a personal essay and another optional essay,” said Garner.

Associate Dean and law professor Andrea Charlow, promises that her school will take into consideration the rigor of the applicant’s undergraduate courses along with the alternative testing.  She adds that many applicants are warned that an exemplary undergraduate transcript may still have to keep fingers crossed to be admitted.

In a March statement, Gail Agrawal, the University of Iowa’s law school dean, announced the new admissions policy stating, “They are not guaranteed admission, but must compete with the entire applicant pool for a place in the class.”

Some law school experts agree that loosening the strict eligibility requirements will not provide the needed relief for struggling law school admissions.

Benjamin Spencer, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and researcher of the history of law schools in the U.S., predicted that, “You may get, I don’t know, 10-20 more people applying from your home institution.” He added, “There’s people who are members of groups that tend to under perform on the LSAT and if you dispense with the LSAT and they’ve demonstrated good performance at the college, that might be a way to bring them in without the LSAT score bringing down your overall class LSAT figure, which is something the schools always have to pay attention to.”

Spencer can foresee many law schools changing their admissions policy. Particularly if the school has a competitive undergraduate program. However, he is unsure if the change will encourage these undergrads to remain with their current university for their J.D.

“Students tend to pick their law school based on their ranking,” Spencer states, “And if a student’s a really good student at one of those universities, their opportunities may be better at other law schools.”

This policy change is one of many efforts law schools have taken to expand scholarship packages and include more hand-on opportunities to students.

Spencer adds, “Law schools want to innovate various ways. But they’ve been prohibited from innovating in those ways because the ABA has those restrictive requirements.”

Source: U.S. News & World Report



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