- Not long ago, only those of privilege were seemingly allowed into the law school institution.
- Diversity, however, has recently played a large part in law school admissions for those who ordinarily would not ordinarily find themselves in law school.
- With law schools now throwing out the LSAT in favor of the GRE, which diversity should only increase.
For many who aspire to the practice of law, attending law school is an invaluable step toward obtaining that career goal. Law school is structured to make a student of law approach circumstances differently than what occurs in the real world, which, in the end, is what makes up a solid law practitioner.
Rather than react or impulsively come to a conclusion, law school teaches young lawyers to analyze, break down and rebuild legal cases. It is a difficult but necessary three-year row in which a prospective lawyer reads, writes, argues, but most importantly, strengthens him or herself to become a legal resource for clients who are in need of legal assistance.
Beyond that, the sheer fact of law school remains; you cannot practice law without having gone to law school. It is impossible to do. If one does attempt it, surely the bar exam will root these school-less bandit lawyers out, and prevent them from obtaining a license to practice – that is if it is not first found out by others in the practice of law that this one particular lawyer did not adequately pay “their dues.”
So yes, law school is necessary. Some might say a necessary evil, while others could deem law school to be an essential benefit. One way or the other, if you want to become a lawyer, you first have to attend law school.
To William and Mary and Beyond!
The oldest law school in the United States is William and Mary. The school first began instructing future lawyers in January 1780. Of course, much has changed since those budding days when law schools such as William and Mary, Harvard and Yale first opened their doors to prospective lawyers.
For example, law schools instruct much differently today than what was traditionally taught only two or three decades ago. Recognizing their worldly importance (and responsibility) toward the production of quality attorneys who seek to improve society with fair execution and representation of the law, law schools are continually pressured to move away from the stodgy upper-class pedagogy they have educated for centuries. Now, these schools’ concentration leans toward a progressive and inclusive student body that better represents the world at large and the potential legal issues within that world.
While there has been resistance to this movement mostly from the old guard of what is now a verifiable dying breed of archaic lawyers, even the Ivy League schools, notorious for their exclusivity, ,now have programs that seek the opposite in race and gender from what previously roamed their hallowed halls.
Law schools now sport and tout themselves as having in-place programs that seek out minority and disenfranchised students, not to forget the mention of women, who are still woefully outnumbered in the legal profession.
The problem, however, is whether or not these actions within the legal education sector are enough to change the landscape of not just law and who represents “the law,” but as importantly, those who make laws.
No More LSATs – at least not at these schools
Over the summer, Georgetown and Northwestern, two law schools touted for their ability to produce high-end legal purveyors, announced they were no longer require incoming law students to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
As a result, Georgetown and Northwestern join the already trailblazing Harvard Law School and the highly regarded University of Arizona law program who previously determined the LSAT be no longer a measure of potential new law students had to endure before admission to their respective programs.
While there has been a backlash to this decision – much of that coming from the usual old fossils that the law profession detects as still having a pulse – many law schools throughout the country recognize that allowing future students to rely on their GREs to help them get into law schools is a positive move.
Removing the LSAT as a requirement for entry into law school produces these immediate results for prospective law students:
- Future law students are no longer burdened by yet another requirement to get into law school.
- The overall $300 fee for the LSAT ($180) and the mandatory subscription to the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) for another $121 will be one less expense for new law students.
- The GREs, also known as the Graduate Record Examination, will in most cases for post-graduate students, be required for any graduate program these students enter, not just law.
- Because post-graduate students will already need to take the GREs, their scores are reusable for other graduate programs, and not exclusive only to law school, which the LSAT is.
- Not requiring students to take the LSAT can have a direct and positive influence on diversity in American law schools and the eventual practice of law throughout the country, if not the world.
In this sense, law school admissions have (or will) become a much fairer process. Specialty tests, which have been noted as not in the least way a valid demonstrator of a person’s potential, particularly a student, are taken out of the mix. Moreover, in their place comes the GRE, which by and large is a much more standardized test for postgraduate students.
Another benefit is a student is required only to take the test once, whether or not he or she is admitted into law school.
Well, that is good for the students. However, how exactly will law schools benefit and the legal profession in general, by changing the academic prerequisites for law school?
Simple: It is called diversity.
What’s the benefit of no longer requiring LSATS?
The University of Chicago law school has been seemingly rooted forever within the top-ten law schools in the U.S. Theirs is a strong program with more than a few notable graduates such as:
- David Rubenstein
- Carol Mosley Braun
- John Ashcroft
Now, if you take these three extremely high-powered persons within the legal world at face value, you would think the University of Chicago Law School is already nicely diversified. After all, of that list, two of the men are white, one Jewish and the lone woman of the trio is black.
Fine, but according to Anna Ivey, founder of a consulting firm on law school admissions and former admissions dean at the University of Chicago Law School, much more can be done, particularly in Ms. Ivey’s alma mater.
“Law schools should be innovating; their admissions process has not changed much for a long time in the grand scheme of things,” Ms. Ivey explains in a recent article highlighting law school diversity posted on Inside Hire Ed. “In the meantime, the legal profession has changed rapidly, and the wider context as well, of course.
“Based on my own experience as a law school admissions officer, I was never all that impressed with the LSAT as the end-all, be-all, and if it were not for the rankings, I am not sure law schools would emphasize it as much as they feel forced to. This isn't just about diversity, although that matters. This is also about the skills that lawyers need today.”
Other schools are quickly following suit as they find the LSAT’s lack of necessity when it comes to determining how well a post-graduate will perform in law school. It is found that the LSAT is a somewhat prejudiced exam that isn’t necessarily employed to deny certain individuals inclusion into law school, but at the same time does not ultimately help non-privileged graduate students gain entry toward legal educations.
In the case of Georgetown University, LSAT results have not been completely removed from the law school admissions mix. In fact, the LSAT has gone from a required test to an exam regarded as supplemental.
In short, prospective Georgetown law students can take either/or/both; the GRE, the LSAT, or both exams to ensure their entry into the program.
In a recent posting on WAMU 88.5, the disavowing of all things LSAT is welcomed by many university law schools. Case in point is Georgetown itself:
“We felt that, by using the GRE, it would open up the guardrails,” explains Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt. “There are some terrific, terrific applicants out there from non-traditional backgrounds that should be given access to the legal profession.”
As was earlier said, dismantling the LSAT requirement for law school admissions can free up a future law student’s finances, not to mention their mind.
As a consequence, a test that is, albeit, less difficult, yet at the same time exceedingly more applicable to one’s undergraduate curriculum, but more importantly a test most graduates have taken to prepare for post-grad work, can yield a wealth of untapped legal minds, many of them coming from unlikely sources.
Of course, those are the immediate benefits for prospective law students who no longer have to worry about studying, paying for and then taking another narrowly regarded and largely useless placement test.
Keep in mind that in most cases placement exams are only good for testing in or out of an undergraduate requirement such as a foreign language, math or literature requirement. This is true because with those focuses, a student has to complete these subjects to ensure they experience a well-rounded first two years of undergraduate school.
Law, however, is a different animal.
Law is not math, a foreign language nor is it literature (though in practice, a legal career can easily incorporate math, a foreign language or literature into a case to prove a point). Law is a matter of thinking, analyzing, breaking down a legal situation, and then building it back up again.
More than a subject, the law is a way of being. Moreover, the benefit of not needing the LSAT to enter law school is beneficial in and of itself simply because:
- The LSAT is a notoriously difficult exam to crack (and some say an unfair exam).
- Because of the LSAT, many students have spent thousands to prepare for the exam.
- A prospective law student only has four yearly opportunities to study for, and then take the LSAT.
- A prospective law student has up to twelve opportunities per year to take the GRE, making their odds that they will grade better on this exam much more in their favor.
What say you, critics?
Of course, not everyone is onboard with this sweeping change to law school admissions.
As WAMU suggests, some critics of the LSAT decision claim the policy change is a gimmick designed to increase applicants at a time when law school applications, and as a consequence, admissions, have fallen across the board.
At the same time, major law schools such as Georgetown, which ranks as one of the top law schools in the country, has no shortage of applicants.
Cornblatt states Georgetown, the nation’s largest law school, receives more applications than any other law school in the country — about 9,000 applications came in last year.
Tanya Weinberg, Georgetown’s director of media relations, maintains that while applications to law schools have dropped by eight percent nationwide over the last five years, applications to Georgetown have shot up 17 percent.
Whether or not other law schools are utilizing GREs over LSATs as a recruitment tool is something we may never know. Nonetheless, the writing is on the wall with the influx of schools that are willing to let the LSAT fall by the admissions process wayside:
- The University of Arizona College of Law led the charge when it became the first law school in the country to allow applicants to submit GRE scores instead of LSAT scores.
- Harvard Law soon made the same change, which is still unprecedented amongst The Ivies, though others within the esteemed collegiate grouping are considering similar changes.
- Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law followed suit when it made its announcement at the same time as Georgetown University.
Diversity: It Has to Start Somewhere, So Why Not with Dropping the LSAT?
The legal world, law schools, included, likes to talk a big socioeconomic game. They like to think of themselves as fair, while also remaining distant of the prejudices and club-like atmospheres and opinions that associates with the practice of law.
Well, some things simply cannot wait. As law firms steer themselves around with the rapidity of an ocean liner, it is the legal institutions – the law schools big and small, prestigious and not-so-prestigious who have taken up the conch in this human aspect of one of the world’s oldest professions.
Whether it is from a lack of law school applications and enrollments, or a true desire to convert the old guard network of law to a profession that mirrors the world’s diversity, something at the very least is being done about this far-reaching dilemma of inclusion within the law practice.
So why shouldn’t it start with law schools? Law schools represent the fertile minds that will continue to represent the legal world with innovative approaches to legal issues.
Who a person is, where they come from, their ethnic background, even their gender background will play a lessening role in their education, then ultimately upon graduation from law school, their interpretation of the law.
If that occurs, all people will eventually have fair representation that takes into account not the money they don’t have, or the towering social level upon which they do not exist, but their place as a human, which is all that law and justice should, at the end of the day, care about.
Frequently Asked Question
Is There Any Law School That Does Not Require The LSAT?
Every year, more and more law schools no longer require the law school admissions test (LSAT) as a requirement for the law school admission process. It is clear that the law schools on this list are among the most prestigious in the country and are leading the way in moving away from using the LSAT as the primary consideration for admission to law school. It is important to check the admissions pages of every law school you want to apply to, as dozens of others do not require the LSAT.
Texas A&M University
Wesleyan University School of Law at Texas A&M University is not one of the more well-known law schools, but they are certainly respected in the legal community. This law school is often more affordable than some of the other options on this list since it is a public institution. The school is also a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). It was the first school to begin accepting the GRE test scores instead of the LSAT exam and started this trend.
The University of Georgetown Law School was another early school to accept the GRE for graduate school applicants. This happened in 2017. Based in Washington DC, Georgetown Law is a very popular school that has graduated many prominent attorneys. Among many others, this includes Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Durbin, and John Delaney. Despite being one of the oldest graduate schools, having been founded in 1870, they continue to innovate and push education forward for the legal profession's future.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)
UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law is not quite as well-known as many other institutions on this list, but it is still a highly respected school. Since the fall of 2017, they have accepted LSAT alternatives and have seen significant success.
Columbia Law School
Columbia University is a world-renowned university, and its law school is one of the most prestigious in the country. Some of the best-known lawyers have graduated from one of the oldest law schools in the United States. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Teddy Roosevelt both attended Columbia Law. Beginning in 2018, Columbia Law now accepts the GRE score.
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is perhaps the most famous name in higher education, and aspiring lawyers highly regard it. In addition to Supreme Court Justices Elena Kegan and John Roberts, Harvard law alumni include President Barack Obama. Harvard is also one of the oldest law schools in the country. Many smaller schools followed suit when they began accepting LSAT alternative tests.
Massachusetts School of Law
Despite being one of the newest schools on the list, it has made a name for itself as a school that produces world-class attorneys. When a potential student applies for admission to the Massachusetts School of Law, they must take a written test and complete a personal interview. In addition to reviewing the student's GPA and academic background, we also review the student's academic history.
The Prizker School of Law at Northwestern University is another prominent law school that accepts students without an LSAT. As Georgetown Law announced its program in 2017, they announced theirs almost simultaneously. They determine who will be accepted to their program based on factors such as the grade point average a student maintains throughout their academic years, an extensive interview process, and other factors.
Do All Lawyers Have To Take The LSAT?
Many people dream of becoming lawyers. In spite of how the overall economy is doing, it is a well-paying job that offers excellent stability. It is not easy to become an attorney, despite the benefits. Students must complete their undergraduate courses, attend law school, and pass the BAR exam to become a licensed attorney.
Getting into law school is the first real hurdle for most aspiring lawyers. Leading law schools are extremely selective when it comes to accepting students. For generations, this meant not only completing their undergraduate courses with a high GPA but also scoring high on the LSAT (Law School Admission Test).
Most law schools still require potential students to take the LSAT and submit their scores, but this requirement is becoming less common. Several highly respected law schools do not require this type of test, and more schools are following suit each year. To become a lawyer without taking the LSAT, you will need to learn more about the schools that do not require it and what alternative requirements they may have.
The changes took effect after the American Bar Association ruled that law schools could admit up to 10% of their incoming classes without requiring them to take the LSAT. According to Bloomberg, the parameters are very narrow. Students must have attended the university as undergraduates or be pursuing the JD alongside another degree. A 3.5-grade point average or ranking in the top 10% of their class is also required to score in the 85th percentile on a different standardized test, such as the SAT or GRE. About 15 law schools were already granted permission to implement similar standards individually, so the ABA changed the rule.
According to the Law School Admission Council, which administers the standardized tests, many aspiring attorneys will not be eligible to forgo the LSAT completely since they will still need to take the test to apply to law schools other than their current one. One of the strengths of using these test scores in the admission process is that their reliability can be easily quantified compared to other measures used in admission decisions. The LSAT score makes it easy for admission offices to compare an applicant to all other LSAT examinees.
Are Law Schools Getting Rid Of The LSAT?
Becoming a lawyer can take many forms. Other people follow a straight path of self-loathing. Some wind their way around the twin peaks of poor decision-making and bad role models. All paths go through the LSAT, a long, winnowing tunnel. There is a possibility that the test, which does not accurately predict your law school GPA or chances of passing the bar, maybe on its way out.
The Law School Admission Council, the organization that administers the LSAT, has long been unpopular with law schools. In true brotastic style, a group whose acronym sounds like what junior associates call their scrotums has acted fairly dickishly, threatening lesser law schools that have dared even to consider dropping its exceedingly arbitrary exam. As one of the few law schools whose reputation and brand transcend the ranking given to it by US News and World Report (where LSAT scores play a significant role), Harvard can expose LSAC's threats as idle and show the way for other law schools to give up on the LSAT.
All of this may seem like great news since the LSAT is terrible at what it is supposed to demonstrate: aptitude for law. A good test approximates the probability of success in the future. Metals are stress-tested by engineers to see how they will perform in car parts, and football coaches put recruits through the combine to determine whether they can outrun their opponents.
That is not what the LSAT does. On the LSAT, you will fill in circles with a No. 2 pencil for six hours in a large, stressful room. Studies have shown that there is barely any correlation between LSAT score and law school GPA (although that is somewhat to be expected, given that law schools tend to grade on strict curves: If you get a great LSAT score, you will probably end up at a more competitive school, which means it will be harder to outshine your brilliant classmates).
Recent research suggests LSAT does not even accurately predict bar results. It is your law school GPA, not your LSAT score, that matters most when it comes to predicting whether you will pass the bar.
That is good riddance, is not it? Not quite, since Harvard has made a bad situation worse by accepting the GRE. GREs are more convenient than the LSAT because they are offered more frequently and at more locations. Excellent. No other test is being considered by Harvard. A simpler one is sought: one that is easier to take and easier to master.
Law schools should be doing the opposite of that. Getting into law school should be more difficult, not easier, since we do not need more lawyers. That is not a cheap dig about attorneys—some of my best friends are attorneys!—but an honest assessment of the legal job market, which is already oversaturated with law graduates. In 2015, 9.6 percent of recent law school graduates could not find jobs, but only 7.2 percent of college graduates were unemployed. Even worse, only two-thirds of law graduates were able to get jobs requiring a law license, i.e., practicing law, which is the only semi-sensible reason to go to law school in the first place.
The further away they are from graduation, the worse their employment statistics are. Even four years after passing the 2010 bar exam in Ohio, only three-fourths of attorneys were using their licenses.
The poor employment statistics have led to a decline in the demand for legal education. The number of first-year law school students in the United States dropped to a four-decade low in 2014. Applications from top universities have declined. Harvard's first-year enrollment decreased 18 percent between 2011 and 2015 but increased slightly over the same period. One cannot allow one's standards to slip in the Ivy League, so Harvard went on a hunt to boost applications.
Admissions officers want to reach what kind of applicants with the GRE? Is it the student who lives hours away from the LSAT test center? Perhaps. The majority of people who take the GRE rather than the LSAT are not sure if they want to go to law school.
Too many otherwise decent people end up as attorneys because they have no better ideas. Law school applicants' top 10 standard majors are political science, criminal justice, psychology, English, history, economics, philosophy, sociology, arts and humanities, and communications. As law schools fill their ranks with hesitant history majors and fickle philosophers, accepting the GRE will ultimately bite them in the rear.
Law schools should behave more like Northwestern, which strongly prefers candidates with at least one year of postundergraduate experience rather than replacing the LSAT with the GRE scores. As a result, fewer people apply to law school to postpone the real world for another three years.
What Is The Lowest LSAT Score Accepted?
During the law school admissions process, a student's LSAT score is one of the most significant factors schools consider. Below is a list of typical LSAT scores between low and high:
- The lowest LSAT score possible, which is practically impossible to get because you would have to flop every question, is 120.
- The highest LSAT score possible, which is nearly impossible to get because of the test’s difficulty, is 180.
- The national average LSAT Score possible is 150
Is The GRE Harder Than LSAT?
Objectively, neither test is harder than the other. Despite that, depending on the skillset of test-takers, one exam may be easier than the other.
The following is a quick breakdown of which test, GRE or LSAT, may be right for you based on your strengths and weaknesses:
There is no doubt about it: if you are a dynamic speaker, the GRE is the right choice for you. In its reading comprehension passages and on its own, the test is fond of pulling out cryptic vocabulary words.
Reading comprehension is tested in both exams but different ways. Critical reasoning is the focus of the LSAT, while reading comprehension is the focus of the GRE. The verbal section of the GRE makes up 1/3 of the test, while the Reading Comprehension section makes up 1/5 of the LSAT-Flex and 1/6 of the regular LSAT.
To put it another way? Verbal questions on the GRE are harder than those on the LSAT.
The LSAT is the better choice if you excel at logical and analytical reasoning. The test contains not only a Logical Reasoning section (two if you are not taking the LSAT-Flex) but also an Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games) section.
As part of the Verbal section, there are logical reasoning-style questions. These questions, however, are a subset of the Reading Comprehension questions and make up a much smaller portion of the entire test.
The LSAT is harder than the GRE for logic questions.
Are you good at math? The GRE is the test for you! Unlike the GRE, the LSAT does not have any math questions.
Math-wise, the GRE is harder than the LSAT. There is no comparison!
You should take the GRE if you are a great writer. The GRE AWA requires two separate 30-minute essays (the argument and issue essays) to be written on test day. Alternatively, the LSAT writing sample is a 35-minute essay you write on your own time, separate from the rest of the test. Additionally, the GRE AWA is scored, but not the LSAT writing sample.
Overall, the GRE is harder to write than the SAT.
Do Law Schools Prefer GRE Or LSAT?
Several graduate programs accept the GRE as an entrance exam for their graduate programs. There are many reasons why the GRE is an attractive option for law schools and prospective students.
Harvard School of Law reports that many prospective law students are also considering other types of programs and taking the GRE while considering their various choices. Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow believes that students, schools, and the legal field in general benefit greatly from an appropriately diverse pool of students, both in terms of academic background and country of origin. Minimizing the financial burden of applying is an important part of this.
In spite of this, the LSAT remains the main entrance exam for most law schools. The LSAT is the only test accepted by ALL law schools even though the GRE is growing in popularity and may continue to do so. As long as law school is the only career option you are considering, taking the LSAT will allow your performance to determine where you apply fully.
A student's learning style and career interests will dictate the best way to take the LSAT exam.
When Should I Take The LSAT For Fall 2022?
LSAT tests are given nine times a year (generally once a month except in May, December, and either August or September). To be eligible to take the LSAT, you should take it no later than the summer or fall of the year in which you intend to apply, a full year (or more) before you want to start law school. You should take the LSAT in the summer after your junior year or the fall of your senior year if you plan to go to law school right after graduation.
Below is the full schedule of LSAT test dates is available in 2022:
- January 2022 — LSAT: January 14, January 15, January 16
- February 2022 — LSAT: Week starting February 12
- February 2022 — Spanish LSAT: February 26
- March 2022 — LSAT: Week starting March 12
- April 2022 — LSAT: Week starting April 30
- June 2022 — LSAT: Week starting June 11
Where Can I Find Practice LSAT Questions?
Preparing for the LSAT involves familiarizing yourself with the mechanics of the test:
- What does it look like?
- What is being asked of you?
- How do you physically provide answers to the test questions?
If your test is administered in the same format, you should become familiar with the LSAT. You can also estimate how much time you can spend on each question by taking the official practice tests under time constraints. In addition, you will be able to determine which types of questions require more timed practice tests.
When you understand the test instructions and the nature of the questions, you will plan your time wisely on the day of the test and handle distractions efficiently.
Official LSAT Prep on LSAC’s LawHub
With the Official LSAT PrepSM available through LawHub, you can immerse yourself in a simulation of taking the four-section or the LSAT-Flex. Everything that you can do during the test will be available on the LSAT practice tests - ruling out answers, marking passages, setting screen preferences, and more. You will be able to build skills and confidence by practicing these tests.
Through LSAC's LawHub, two LSAT PrepTests (including a bonus LSAT-Flex version) and an Official LSAT-Flex Sample test are available free of charge. For just $99, you can access more than 70 full Official LSAT PrepTestsTM for one whole year with Official LSAT PrepPlusSM.
Paper-and-Pencil LSAT Prep
On the LSAC website, you can find a free sample LSAT if your LSAT is being administered in paper-and-pencil format.
Other test preparation resources include Official LSAT Prep books and eBooks. Three full practice tests explain every question in the Official LSAT SuperPrep and SuperPrep II. There are also dozens of additional Official LSAT Prep tests available for purchase.
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