Setting the Bar on Law School Admissions

American Bar Association approves recommendation on accreditation standard

The American Bar Association has taken a conspicuous step in facilitating a shift away from the LSAT as an admissions standard. On Nov. 3, the association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a recommendation to remove an accreditation standard for law schools that requires the use of a “valid and reliable” admissions test.

If the proposal passes, the most concrete change will be law schools having their choice of admissions exams to accept. The Nov. 3 vote comes on the heels of several elite law schools, including Harvard and Columbia, beginning to experiment with accepting the GRE as well as the LSAT as an entrance exam. The move ostensibly is meant to attract a more diverse pool of prospective law students than only accepting the LSAT has historically produced.

But David Logan, a law professor at the Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island, told Law Week the move toward accepting the GRE is more about boosting decreased law school enrollment numbers.

“It’s about butts in seats,” he said. According to ABA data, the class of 2016 graduated 37,124 law students, a 7 percent decrease from 2015. And according to additional data, law school enrollment at ABA-accredited schools peaked in 2010 at 147,525 before tumbling to 119,775 in 2014.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the November 13, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.