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Law School Admission Test Would be Optional Under ABA Proposal

May 20, 2022, 8:35 PM

The Law School Admission Test soon may become a much less important part of the law school admissions process in the US, if the American Bar Association has its way.

An ABA group on Friday took another step toward allowing schools to decide whether or not to require the test for prospective students. The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions voted to put the proposal out for public comment.

Law schools are currently required to ensure that applicants have completed a “valid and reliable” admission test. The new proposal comes as more than 80 U.S. law schools in recent years have allowed prospective students to take the more general Graduate Record Examination instead of the LSAT.

Schools would be permitted to continue using the LSAT, GRE or another admission test under the proposal.

Reform proponents say the ABA proposal is long overdue.

ABA standards should provide law schools with “substantial flexibility” in their admission policies, with schools held accountable for student outcomes, said Aaron Taylor, executive director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence.

The ABA is the only professional school accreditor that mandates the use of an admission test, Taylor said in a written statement. “The committee’s recommendation brings the standards into closer alignment with the common practice of allowing schools latitude in determining how they select their students.”

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law began accepting applicants who had taken the GRE instead of the LSAT in 2016. The following year, Harvard, Georgetown and Northwestern’s law schools followed suit.

According to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the GRE, 83 US law schools now accept the test.

The Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT and plays a role in overseeing the law school application process, previously urged caution about eliminating the testing requirement.

“(W)e hope the ABA will consider these issues very carefully,” the group said. “We believe the LSAT will continue to be a vital tool for schools and applicants for years to come, as it is the most accurate predictor of law school success and a powerful tool for diversity when used properly as one factor in a holistic admission process.”

Proponents of reform have argued that the opposite largely holds true—that mandatory use of the LSAT and other standardized tests has hindered legal industry diversity.

In 2018, the ABA withdrew a similar resolution shortly before its House of Delegates was scheduled to vote on it at an annual meeting.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com