Some law schools in Alabama aren’t planning to change their LSAT requirement for admission after the American Bar Association (ABA) announced intentions to make the test optional starting in the fall of 2025.
A legal education council of the ABA passed a proposal last week eliminating the current requirement for law school applicants to take a "valid and reliable test" like the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for admission to ABA-accredited law schools starting in the fall of 2025. The ABA accredits 199 law schools across the nation.
Blake Hudson, Dean and Professor of Law at Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, told 1819 News in an interview he and other law school deans are concerned about the “unintended consequences” of the change.
Hudson said a law school admissions policy that doesn’t require the LSAT would likely not increase diversity as some advocates of the change suggest and may even decrease it.
“LSAT has been verified as the single-best predictor of law school success,” Hudson said. “It’s better than GPA. What you score on the LSAT will kind of dictate your likelihood of passing law school and doing well in law school. When you take into account that law school success is a predictor of how well you do on the bar there’s kind of a chain of predictors there. Minority students who may not have good GPAs because of a host of issues related to educational assessment processes often score better on the LSAT than their GPA would indicate. If you move to GPA only, you’re going to be hurting minority students who otherwise would be able to get into law school with a good LSAT score.”
Hudson also said removing the LSAT requirement could lead to admissions decisions coming down to factors that are “more subjective” and end up giving applicants less information about where to apply since students currently compare their scores to the median scores where they’re thinking about applying.
“I don’t think we have anticipated changing it because of the reasons that I’ve stated,” Hudson said. “That said, think about it like this, once schools start pulling out, the pressure on other schools to pull out is great. There is data to show that if you make testing optional you’re going to get more applicants. I hate to be crass about it or cynical, but law schools operate like a business and if everybody else is getting more applicants because they go “test-optional” it’s going to put heavy, heavy pressure on any school to go “test-optional” as well. Otherwise, they lose out on applicants and they don’t have enough funding to operate. Our intentions are to stay with the testing, but I’m just here to tell you as a pragmatist that’s going to be hard to do if everybody starts pulling out of the LSAT.”
Charles Campbell, Dean and Associate Professor of Law at the Jones School of Law at Faulkner University, said he didn’t anticipate Jones School of Law changing its admissions policies if the ABA were to drop the test requirement.
“The change approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (Council) will need approval by the ABA’s House of Delegates before becoming effective,” Campbell told 1819 News. “So, the change will not take effect until at least February 2023. If approved, the change will not be implemented by the ABA until fall 2025. Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law currently requires either an LSAT or a GRE score for consideration in the admissions process. At this time, we do not intend to change our admissions policies in response to the ABA Council’s decision.”
A spokesman for the University of Alabama School of Law didn’t return a request for comment.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
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