Legal Education

Legal course work for undergraduates might replace LSAT, says Law School Admission Council

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The Law School Admission Council announced a plan Wednesday to allow prospective law school applicants to take undergraduate courses—possibly in lieu of the LSAT.

The LSAC’s Legal Education Program is scheduled to start this fall, and its validity and reliability for law school admissions will be studied, says Kaitlynn Griffith, the LSAC’s vice president for product development and business intelligence.

Also, she says, the organization plans to work closely with the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

“The role of the council, in context of this program, would be to determine at some point how the program complies with Standard 503, which requires that all such schools use a ‘valid and reliable’ examination to assess candidates for admission. It is, of course, too early in the process to address that possibility,” Bill Adams, ABA managing director of accreditation and legal education, told the ABA Journal in an email.

Besides the potential of replacing a law school entrance exam, the LSAC hopes that the new offering will prepare people for law school. Partner institutions include Cornell College, Northeastern University and the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore.

“LSAC’s Legal Education Program’s focus on helping students develop and demonstrate mastery of the skills necessary for success in law school—as part of their regular undergraduate academic coursework—will have a profoundly positive impact on students, schools and the legal profession as a whole,” said Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the LSAC and a 2022 ABA Journal Legal Rebel, in a March 16 news release.

The program has an advisory committee. Its members include Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of University of California at Berkeley School of Law, president of the Association of American Law Schools and a frequent ABA Journal contributor; Joseph West, a partner and the chief diversity officer at Duane Morris, who also is the chair-elect of the ABA legal ed section’s council; and Danielle Holley-Walker, dean of the Howard University School of Law.

In November, the legal ed section’s council announced that it had voted in favor of allowing law schools to accept Graduate Record Examination scores from applicants in place of LSAT scores. Previously, schools had to demonstrate that entrance exams other than the LSAT were valid and reliable, including the GRE.

In the news release, the LSAC asserted that the LSAT is the “single best predictor” of law school success across all demographic groups. According to Griffith, the LSAT and the undergraduate program will complement each other, and it’s possible that some students will do both.

“We understand that the LSAT is a great pathway for many individuals, but we also understand this might be an alternative pathway to develop skills and support systems,” she says.

Updated March 16 at 2:48 p.m. to include statement from Bill Adams.

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