Possibility of making LSAT voluntary stirs new debate on test's value and importance
February 1, 2011
Is the Law School Admissions Test the best way to gauge who will succeed in law school, or is it a barrier to diversity in the legal profession and a far too influential component of the rankings game?
That long-simmering debate has been reignited with news that the American Bar Association is contemplating making the Law School Admissions Test voluntary rather than mandatory for accreditation. Dumping the test would be a major departure -- the test has been required for nearly 40 years -- but the ABA's accreditation arm is developing new standards that give law schools more autonomy.
A voluntary LSAT could result in fewer test-takers and less revenue for the Law School Admission Council, the well-funded nonprofit that administers the LSAT and enjoys a monopoly in law school admission testing. The council has met with the ABA committee drafting the new standards, but leaders said they're not lobbying to retain the test requirement. "It's not for us to decide the ultimate question of whether law schools will be using the test based on an accreditation standard," said council President Daniel Bernstine.