Law Schools

ABA legal ed section's governing council advances so-called LSAT requirement

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The governing council of the ABA’s law school accrediting arm has preliminarily approved two more chapters of a proposed overhaul of the accreditation standards.

The council, which met Friday and Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., voted unanimously to post the proposed changes (PDF) for notice and comment. It also agreed to postpone final approval of any recommended changes in the standards until it has a chance to review the entire package of proposed changes together.

One of the two chapters, which covers admissions polices and practices, would keep the current requirement that all first-year applicants must take a valid and reliable admissions test.

The council chose to keep the so-called LSAT requirement in the proposed standards at the recommendation of the section’s Standards Review Committee, which had gone back and forth several times over the years on the question of whether compelling law schools to use an admissions test should be an accreditation requirement. The committee ultimately decided that it should but also offered the council an alternative version that would eliminate the LSAT requirement altogether.

But Scott Norberg, the ABA’s deputy consultant on legal education, said he wouldn’t infer much from the council’s decision to post for notice and comment the alternative that includes the LSAT requirement; the council expected to get the same reaction no matter which version it went with. The real debate on the merits of such a requirement, if there is one, will come when the council takes up the matter for final approval.

The other chapter approved for notice and comment by the council deals with law school organization and administration. The proposed changes would reorder, regroup, update and streamline the current language and eliminate provisions the committee viewed as extraneous to accreditation or felt belonged elsewhere in the standards.

At its meeting Saturday, the council also interviewed finalists to replace Hulett “Bucky” Askew, the section’s former consultant on legal education. The council will make its recommendation to ABA Executive Director Jack Rives, who is expected to make a selection in the next few weeks.

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