ABA recommends dropping LSAT requirement

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by SweetSecret, May 7, 2022.

  1. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    As a 40-year professional in learning development who is trained and certified in this subject, I'm going to gently object to this term of art.

    Multiple-choice tests are not objective. Never. Not even math tests.

    A great deal of subjectivity goes into writing questions-and-answers, from scenarios written to the cat-and-mouse game of having to place the correct answer right in front of the candidate and then distract him or her away from it. (The incorrect selections on a multiple-choice test question are called that: distractors.) Even choosing what to test about is highly subjective.

    With subjectivity comes the risk of bias. This battle has been fought for decades, so I won't re-hash it here. Except to say that bias comes in two forms: actions and outcomes. Standardized testing tends to create the latter for myriad reasons, many beyond the scope of tests and measurements, even if the former is controlled for.

    These risks of bias are lessened because the test is so narrowly focused. But it is still at test for which no curriculum was taught. As such, it is fraught with potential problems, as all such predictive tests are.

    Better would be achievement tests that actually measure how much of what was taught was learned. Still potential for subjectivity, but less so than the you-don't-know-what-we're-testing-but-come-take-it-anyway approach to admissions tests.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Perhaps. But there is a danger of circular logic here. If a school's ranking is based, in part, on its average LSAT score, then accepting higher-scoring students will create this phenomenon, whether or not the test itself is predictive.
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  3. Alpine

    Alpine Active Member

    Here is a chart showing Law School rankings with LSAT average admitting scores:
    2020 Law School Rankings - Median LSAT Score (High to Low) (ilrg.com)

    There are other confounding variables. For example, the Bar exam is not a standardized exam and varies in difficulty from State to State.

    From my research, California is recognized as one of the most difficult Bar exams to pass in the country. The study would be complex, to say the least.
    Last edited: May 8, 2022
  4. Alpine

    Alpine Active Member

    To Nosborne48's point, the predictive value of one's potential success in a program using standardized tests is the subject of debate. Apparently, the ABA "supports ending LSAT requirement" and states, "SRC said that the update to law school admissions requirements would allow for more flexibility amid debates over which tests accurately and fairly demonstrate ability."

    The keyword is "debates."
  5. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I don't suppose it really matters much. A surprising number of graduates of ABA approved schools fail their first attempt as it is. Maybe the LSAT doesn’t contribute much to the analysis.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    LSAC the organization of LSAT makes $74.38 Million annually, eliminating the LSAT can save the student quite an amount of money.
  7. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Any student who borrows $200,000 for a JD from all but a very few schools has bigger issues with handling personal finances than the cost of the LSAT.
  8. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    There's a stinger in the tail for the schools, though. Last time I looked the ABA was enforcing a minimum Bar pass rate in order to maintain accreditation. The schools can't go on exploiting students forever.
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I found it. 75% of graduates who take the Bar exam must pass in two years. Wonder how many schools will drop the LSAT with that sword point on their necks?
  10. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I've not seen any proof of direct correlation between bar passage and LSAT score so only the most idiotic schools would feel that they two are related.

    CUNY law had a rough year in 2020 with a bar passage rate of 65% compared to first time takers who were graduates of NY ABA schools (85.93%). However, that hasn't always been the case. In 2017 they exceeded the NY state rate by 1%. They've had a bit of a steady decline since then. Historically, however, they have always performed rather well. Their median LSAT score for incoming 1L students has not changed since 2017. It hovers at around 153.

    The reason for their dip does not appear to have anything to do with LSAT and probably has more to do with class size. In 2017 they had 76 graduates take the bar. In 2020 they had 137.

    CUNY Law also, historically, has one of the best bar prep programs in the city. Such that graduates from OTHER law schools sometimes take their bar prep course just to boost their chances. But they're dealing with relatively small numbers. Unless they had an uptick in faculty, that means that their faculty to student ratio went down which could have more to do with their dip.

    But hey, let's look at another.

    Brooklyn Law has a median LSAT of 159

    Bar passage rate of around 82%.

    Let's compare to something more top shelf...

    Cornell Law has a median LSAT of 171. Bar passage rate for 2020 is 95%. For 2017, it was 91.6% (New York rates).

    Columbia is 172, and their NY bar passage rate hovers somewhere between 97 and 98% depending on the year and the reporting source.

    For an 11 pt difference in LSAT scores, CUNY Law outperformed all the average of all NYS law school graduates in 2017. That same year, Cornell grads had a pithy 5% higher pass rate than CUNY Law.

    Is it that 1 extra point on the LSAT for Columbia that makes the difference? Come now.

    Class sizes matter. More than that, top tier law schools can be as picky as they want to be. And they WILL be as picky as they want to be with or without the LSAT. That means that being a smart 22 year old with a high GPA and a decent LSAT score might not be enough to get you into the class. It means that the smart 22 year old who hangs around and earns an Ivy League MBA is going to be more competitive (and, frankly, more likely to pass the bar).

    More on all of that complexity here:

    Not So Fast: Predicting Law School Bar Success Is More Complicated Than You Might Think | AccessLex

    But at the end of the day, making students pay gobs of money just because it gives people a convenient number that may, or may not, predict any particular success is just not going to fly in an era where non-tier 1 law schools are in a fight for survival.
  11. TEKMAN

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    You study LSAT for the law school admission, you attend 3 years of law school; which are not prepare you enough to pass the bar exam. Then you have to spend 6 months to a year studying for the bar exam while being unemployed.
    nosborne48 likes this.
  12. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Yup, TEKMAN. That's exactly right. And yet, you know, I am in a minority among lawyers I think. I think law school properly done DOES prepare the student for the part of law practice that is unique to lawyering and that's issue spotting. In order to be able to spot significant legal issues in a given fact situation you need a broad and fairly technical knowledge of the law of your jurisdiction. Law school gives the student the opportunity to acquire that knowledge. Similarly, passing the Bar exam tests that exact skill set. This isn't all there is to earning a law degree nor is it all there is to passing the Bar but it's the bedrock.

    Now, is law school the best way to do this? No, I don't think so. I suspect that a guided set of readings coupled with daily practical experience of practice such as Washington State's legal intern program would do a better job. I don't really know whether that's true. It would certainly be cheaper.
  13. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    You might take a look, Neuhaus, at those schools who admit students with LSAT scores under 150.
  14. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Do law schools in a given jurisdiction include any state-based courses or curriculum? Is part of the reason that people need to take 6 months to prep for the Bar exam because their law school doesn't teach the specifics of that state's law which is needed to pass the bar? I honestly don't know so I'm throwing that out there.
  15. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Two good questions. The curriculum in any ABA approved law school tends to be pretty much the same nationally oriented program for two main reasons. First, an ABA approved J.D. allows the holder to take the Bar in any state or territory. Second, the bulk of Bar exams are themselves based on a sort of lowest common denominator of national law. This was true thirty years ago when I got out of school when just about everyone but Lousiana used the Multistate Bar Exam for about half of their exams. It's even truer now with the growing adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam and ready transfer of scores from state to state.

    That said, yes, some states do include an essay or two based in state law. If you go to school in such a state, there will probably be electives covering that law but if you aren't intending to practice there, those classes aren't likely to be of interest. An example is that New Mexico included an essay question based in Indian Law. There are very good reasons why New Mexico lawyers should know something about Indian Law (sorry, that's the technical term for it) but New Mexico has since gone whole hog with the Uniform Bar exam and I don't know whether they've added a state-specific component.

    A third reason for the monotonous similarity of J.D. programs is that a very large percentage of law professors were themselves trained in a small handful of law schools. There is a noticeable lack of diversity in educational background and that's something I've criticized in the past.

    EDIT: I should have mentioned that an ABA approved J.D. meets the legal education requirements in two U.S. jurisdictions while probably not even coming close to providing an adequate education in local law. I refer to the State of Lousiana and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
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  16. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I would love to take the PR Bar exam.
  17. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Quebec also has civil law, so there are some programs (e.g. at McGill University) that allow you to earn both a Bachelor of Civil Laws (BCL) and an LLB and then be called to the bar in both Quebec and Ontario.
  18. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Louisiana State University used to offer a J.D./B.C.L. in seven semesters. I don't think they still do, though.
  19. TEKMAN

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    I think all states and territories should bring back "READING LAW." You can learn better while on the job. I thought about going for a legal professional as I spent 2 years as doing USMC legal clerk, and one year as a legal chief. I learned so much about NJP, Summary, Special, and General Court-Martial. The UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) manual was very much my daily bible. The only reason I did not follow the legal profession was that my undergraduate GPA was too low for law school and I was not qualified for URM.
  20. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Evidence from the few states that do have this option (e.g. California) contradicts this idea. Rosetta Stone's idea of "learning a language like you did as a child" sounds good upfront, but the reality is that someone giving you the information on grammar rather than letting you slowly intuit it is a lot more effective. I suspect something similar is in play here.


    The CA Baby Bar pass rate is just 22%.

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