University of Wisconsin Law School, in line with dozens of other accredited institutions, opposes this month’s move toward eliminating entrance exams like the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) starting in the fall of 2025.
The ABA, moving away from its longstanding rationale that a test demonstrated whether students could handle the rigors of law school, took the first step Nov. 4 to give “additional freedom to innovate regarding their admissions processes, while remaining accountable for the effectiveness of those innovations,” the council’s strategic review committee said.
UW Law School Dean Daniel Tokaji said he and other leaders are concerned the change will “harm efforts to diversify legal education and ultimately the legal profession.”
For example, “Research consistently shows that the LSAT can help identify students who are capable of succeeding in law school, even though their grades or other credentials alone might not so indicate. That includes students who come from less advantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups, as well as non-traditional or second-career students.”
Rebecca Scheller, associate dean for admissions and financial aid at UW Law, is a voluntary trustee on the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). She said the LSAT is one predictor in UW’s holistic review process that can be relied upon to accurately assess how a student might perform in their first year of law school.
“So often we see students pursuing law school after first serving in the military, pursuing careers after completion of their undergraduate degree, or taking time away from school to care for their families,” Scheller said. “Those students come to us with much older undergraduate GPAs, which don’t provide much predictive value in the admissions process.”
The op-ed counters with a proposal to widen law school flexibility to admit students with certain criteria from 10% to 20%.
According to the op-ed’s authors, “The fall 2022 entering law school class was the most diverse class in history. We must continue to seek greater diversity among law students and lawyers, but there is no evidence that removing the standardized test requirement will achieve this goal. At a minimum, we need more study and more data on the potential impact of such a radical change in admissions standards to avoid potential consequences to diversity, equity and inclusion that are the opposite of what is intended.”
About University of Wisconsin Law School
University of Wisconsin Law School, founded in 1868, is a world-class institution in the heart of our state capital. Our Law-in-Action tradition empowers graduates to navigate an increasingly complex, competitive and challenging world. The Law School is committed to cultivating an inclusive community that supports the success, well-being and belonging of all our students, staff and faculty. Learn more at www.law.wisc.edu.
Submitted by Law School News on November 22, 2022
This article appears in the categories: Features