Proposed LSAT Elimination Triggers Debate in Legal Community
There may soon be a major change to law school entry requirements. Recently, there was a proposal to drop the requirement of the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Some argue in favor of dropping the LSAT while others argue that the test serves an important purpose.
The Elimination Proposal
The proposal to eliminate the LSAT requirement was announced in April. The American Bar Association (ABA)’s Council on Legal Education made the proposal. For reference, this council accredits 196 American law schools.
Before this proposal, accredited law schools had to use a standardized test that is “valid and reliable.” This could be the LSAT, the GRE, or another standardized test.
If the proposal goes into effect, law schools would no longer have to require applicants to take the LSAT. However, they would have the choice to still require the test. Any changes would go into effect for students starting law school in Fall 2023.
An Overview of Both Sides
On one side of the argument, the LSAT is an equalizer. It helps aspiring lawyers from underprivileged backgrounds compete with those coming from more privilege.
Meanwhile, others argue that the LSAT is a significant roadblock to making the legal profession accessible to those of all backgrounds.
Interestingly, of the 50 comments on the proposal, opinions are pretty much split down the middle.
Why the LSAT Should Not Be Required
Going into more detail, a few common arguments have been made in favor of no longer requiring the LSAT. These include:
- The LSAT has high prep costs plus the $200 cost to take the test.
- Test-takers with conditions such as ADHD struggle to take the LSAT (especially since it is a timed test).
- It would let schools find new ways to identify good applicants.
- The LSAT prevents diverse would-be lawyers from getting into law school.
This last point is supported by plenty of statistics. A study in 2019 compared the average scores of Black and white or Asian test-takers. White and Asian test takers achieved an average score of 153 (out of 180). For Black test takers, the average score was only 142.
Why the LSAT Should Be Required
Of course, those who want the LSAT to remain have their own reasons, including:
- The LSAT isn’t racially-biased; the education system has racial disparities as a whole.
- The LSAT prevents people who aren’t ready for law school from going into debt and leaving.
- Without the LSAT, schools would struggle to identify which students are likely to be successful.
- Without a standardized score like the LSAT, schools would need to use non-standard measures that could result in more bias.
The ABA recently proposed eliminating the LSAT requirement for law schools. Schools would still be able to require it if they choose to do so. There are strong arguments on both sides, and commenters seem to be split more or less down the middle.