Friday, August 11, 2017

More ABA-Accredited Diploma Mills to Accept GRE as Alternative to LSAT

Let's Admit More People!: On August 10, 2017, the New York Times DealBook featured an Elizabeth Olson piece labeled “More Law Schools Begin Accepting GRE Test Results.” Look at this opening:

“Law schools, which have been plagued by a shortfall of students in recent years, are changing their admissions requirements.

Two top-ranked schools — Georgetown University Law Center and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law — this week joined Harvard Law’s recent move to make it simpler to apply.

Applicants can submit the results of the more widely available Graduate Record Exam, the GRE, instead of those from the Law School Admissions Test, which long has been entrenched as the numeric gauge of law school success.

Many law schools are casting wider nets to attract students who would not otherwise set their sights on a legal education. The schools hope that by making it easier for the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who typically take only the GRE, more of them will enroll.

With the two this week, there are now four law schools, including the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, that admit students with GRE scores.

“We believe this change will make the admissions process more accessible to students who have great potential to make a mark here at Georgetown Law and in successful legal careers but who might find the LSAT to be a barrier for whatever reason,” said William M. Treanor, the school’s dean.

The changes come as the nation’s lawyers are gathering this week in New York for the annual meeting of the American Bar Association. While the issue of admissions tests is not on the formal agenda, there is likely to be debate in the corridors about whether law schools should be able to use whatever “valid and reliable admission test” they choose — in lieu of the LSAT, which has been administered since 1948.

Arizona was the first law school to defy the decades-old wisdom that the LSAT was the only reliable numerical predictor for how students would fare.

The Law School Admission Council, the nonprofit law school membership organization that is the LSAT’s administrator, reacted harshly at first but later backed away as dozens of deans supported Arizona’s action.

Arizona, Harvard, Georgetown and Northwestern each conducted individual studies that compared their students’ academic results with their entrance test scores. Georgetown said that it found “GRE scores were at least as strong a predictor of academic success at Georgetown Law as LSAT scores.” [Emphasis mine]

Georgetown Univer$ity Law Center consistently fields gigantic first year classes. It also tends to accept a fair amount of transfer students. Graduating cohorts are often contain close to 500 graduates. Plus, Washington D.C. has a predictable glut of attorneys. One wonders how extensive the school’s study was, given that they just accepted the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT.

Other Coverage: On August 8, 2017, Inside Higher Ed published a Scott Jaschik article entitled “Shaking Up Law School Admissions.” Read the following portion:

“Harvard Law School announced in March that it would start to accept the Graduate Record Examination for admissions, not just the traditionally required Law School Admission Test. At the time, only one other law school -- the University of Arizona's -- had such a policy. Many wondered if the move by Harvard, given its stature in legal education, would prompt others to follow.

That question may have been answered Monday, when the law schools of both Georgetown and Northwestern Universities announced that they too would now accept the GRE, a test from the Educational Testing Service. Both Georgetown and Northwestern are highly regarded law schools and have no shortage of applicants.

But even as the announcements give momentum to the test-choice movement, they come at a time when the American Bar Association may clamp down on such experimentation. Currently the ABA requires law schools to either use the LSAT or another test the law school has determined to have "validity" in predicting student success. Arizona, Georgetown, Harvard and Northwestern all say that they have done such studies, and so comply with ABA rules.

The ABA is, however, considering a rules change that would permit law schools to use alternatives to the LSAT only if the ABA has determined the validity of the alternative test -- something the ABA has yet to do with any test besides the LSAT. And many law deans -- including some who have not moved beyond the LSAT -- are angry that the ABA (with backing from the Law School Admission Council, which runs the LSAT) may limit their options going forward.” [Emphasis mine]

If these “educators” are primarily concerned with their students’ futures, then why would they be upset that the ABA may limit alternatives to the LSAT – as a valid admissions entrance exam? Then again, this appears to be a smokescreen. After all, with solid to elite law schools now accepting the GRE, what the hell is to stop low-ranked diploma factories from doing the same thing?

Conclusion: Since the American Bar Association is dominated by Biglaw types and academics, who thinks that the organization will choose to overrule the law schools at Harvard, Northwestern, and Georgetown? Plus, seeing that these particular institutions have no problems enrolling applicants with impressive LSAT scores, how can the ABA decide that the GRE should not be an alternative at places that are struggling to attract applicants? When will these “legal scholars” start admitting those who graduate from college – with a mere one page essay stating why that person wants to be a lawyer?


  1. This is pretty much a non-issue for me. While the LSAT is a pretty good indicator of bar exam success, I don't think it should be the major weed-out factor in law school admissions. To be perfectly honest, only two prerequisites are truly necessary for today's law school admission process:

    1. Did you obtain an undergraduate degree?

    2. Are you rich and connected?

    Answer no to either, and you shouldn't even be thinking about going to law school today. There are far better ways to earn a living.

    1. I have to agree. Despite my LSAT score, I should have been denied admission to law school on the grounds of not being rich and connected.

    2. Accepting the GRE sounds more like a "weed-IN" factor.

  2. I published this a year and a half ago at Outside the Law School Scam.

    Are you preparing to take the LSAT? Think about this "argument" (quoted from the text above):


    CONCLUSION: The GRE is just as good a predictor of first-year law school grades as the LSAT.

    BASIS: The decision relies on a study finding that performance on the GRE reliably predicted 1L grades for University of Arizona law students. Nearly 100 current and recent graduates of the law school took the GRE in November; the results were compared with their first-year grades.


    Unlike the ABA's scamsters, the students whom I have taught to do well on the LSAT could identify several flaws in that "argument". Here are a few:

    1) The basis says nothing about the LSAT, so the conclusion that "[t]he GRE is just as good ... as the LSAT" cannot follow.

    2) We are given no reason to believe that a result at the U of Arizona applies to law schools generally.

    3) The "study" used "current and recent graduates" (what exactly is a current graduate?) of one law school, although the LSAT is administered not to graduates but to prospective law students.

    4) The small population—"[n]early 100" could be as few as 51—could magnify errors, particularly in light of the almost certainly unrepresentative nature of the "sample".

    5) A subsequent measurement cannot "predict" the result. In the "study", graduates took the GRE, and presumably it is alleged that their scores correlated well with their grades in law school. If so, perhaps grades in law school can be said to predict performance on a subsequent GRE, but there is insufficient reason to suppose that the GRE is a "predictor", let alone a good one, of grades in law school.

    6) The "study" is suspect. It was commissioned, developed, and conducted by a law skule that was eager to prove the conclusion by hook or by crook (and I use the word crook advisedly).

  3. When I went, my 167 score and STEM undergrad weren't good enough for Georgetown, and I stupidly went to a T2 dump.

    I bet now I'd get a generous scholarship package begging me to go.

    If even Harvard is struggling, it means nobody with a good LSAT score is stupid enough to go to law school, aside from the connected and wealthy, but even they only get a degree for "fun" and don't actually need it.

    1. Examine the data for Georgetown here:

      In 2010, the 25th percentile was 168, so your score would have been low (though by no means out of the ballpark). In 2016, the same 168 was at the 75th percentile, the 50th percentile was 167, and the 25th percentile was down to 162. That clustering of LSAT scores at the high end shows desperate efforts to keep the median from slipping past 167.

      Today, yes, they'd probably beg you to go. I only hope that you'd be smart enough to turn them down.

    2. Georgetown is a trap school. It gets a lot of kids from around the country because of its location. The problem is there's a bajillion lawyers in DC and only the super duper connected will be able to parlay that into an influential position.

  4. Law school is for the rich, and the wives of engineers. Even if you make it through school, you have years and years of low pay punctuated with layoffs while you gain enough experience to earn good salaries later on.

    You can get the poor into law school with easy student loans, but you can't keep the poor in legal practice if they aren't earning anything doing it.

  5. South Dakota students it's not too late to drop out of this scam!

  6. The reason Harvard is doing this is because many of their grads will look for teaching jos and they want to keep the TTTTs aflot.


    Back on July 13, 2017, the ABA Journal published a Stephanie Francis Ward piece entitled "Why should law schools have to require LSAT or GRE? Law dean asks the question." From the opening:

    "The requirement that ABA-accredited law schools use some sort of entrance exam in the admissions process hampers innovation and does little to guide schools toward the admission of students capable of mastering legal education and passing a bar exam, according to a group of law school deans.

    The six deans–who include Erwin Chemerinsky, now at the University of California Berkeley School of Law; Daniel B. Rodriguez of Northwestern University; and Blake Morant of George Washington University–submitted their statement (PDF) focusing on whether the council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar should devise a process to validate non-LSAT entrance exams. The public hearing took place Thursday in Chicago.

    “Just because individual schools might continue to require an admissions test,” the statement reads, “why should it be required for accreditation?”

    The current version of the accreditation rule, Standard 503, directs law schools using alternate admissions tests to demonstrate that the exams are valid and reliable. Some law schools, including the University of Arizona and Harvard University, recently decided to accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT. Marc L. Miller, Arizona’s law school dean, was one of six who signed the proposal that argued entrance exam requirements hamper innovation.

    John F. Manning, Harvard Law’s dean, submitted a statement (PDF) that claimed accepting the GRE as an entrance exam “lowers barriers to application.” Harvard’s statement was also signed by Martha Minow, a former dean of the law school, and Jessica Soban, its associate dean for strategic initiatives and admissions."

    Lowering barriers to application for professional schools is idiotic. Could you imagine if US-accredited medical schools made such a decision? In the final analysis, it is far better - for the student and applicant - to be denied entry to an expensive program, rather than to take on outrageous sums of non-dischargeable debt - and then face weak employment prospects.

  8. You know nothing about medical school, so why do you act like you do?

    1. Do you dispute that the barriers to entry into medicine are higher than for law?

  9. Law skool's a joke. I remember when I got admitted and one of my friends told me Big fucking deal. Everyone goes to law school.

    Turns out she was right. If I'd listened I wouldn't owe $150,000 for a worthless degree.

  10. —— The requirement that ABA-accredited law schools use some sort of entrance exam in the admissions process hampers innovation

    What sort of innovation? Already the law schools dip into the 120s. Just exactly what sort of innovation is the LSAT thwarting?

    —— and does little to guide schools toward the admission of students capable of mastering legal education and passing a bar exam,

    Oh, yes, blame the LSAT for not guiding them when they admit people with scores in the 130s and below. If they stuck to the 160s and up, they wouldn't find themselves with assloads of students who could not pass the bar exams. But, no, they insist on admitting idiots by the boatload. And then they want to blame their failures on the LSAT.

    —— accepting the GRE as an entrance exam “lowers barriers to application.”

    Indeed it does. But that's a bad thing, not a good one. Unless you're a scamster bent on reaping private gain at public expense.

  11. An empty Cracker Jack box is worth more than a law degree from some of these places.

    1. Several years ago, Indiana Tech raffled off a pair of headphones and a "scholarship" to Indiana Tech.

      Everyone wanted the headphones…


    According to this GPA and MCAT grid, the overall acceptance rate for AAMC-approved medical schools was 32.0 percent – for those seeking entry for the 2016-2017 academic year. There were 27,772 applicants and 8,883 were accepted. Take a look at the low rates for those who earned less than a 3.0 UGPA. Keep in mind that these students typically majored in hard sciences. In fact, the admissions committees are tough on those who did not reach a 3.4 in undergrad.

    In contrast, plenty of ABA law schools will gladly accept applicants who earned a 145 LSAT or a 2.71 UGPA, while majoring in Philosophy, History, or Political “Science” – among other useless programs of study. That speaks volumes. Go to Law School Transparency to see how the diploma mills have lowered their admi$$ion$ $tandard$ further.

    Back on December 14, 2012, Paul Campos posted an excellent ITLSS entry labeled “Endgame.” Read the following:

    “What are the economic implications for law schools of an admissions cycle that ends up attracting only 53,000 applicants? To answer this question, we have to estimate how many matriculants such a cycle is likely to yield. This is a function of two factors: how many applicants end up getting admitted to at least one school to which they apply, and how many admitted applicants actually end up enrolling.

    As to the first factor, the percentage of applicants being admitted to at least one school has been rising for several years now:

    2004: 55.6%
    2005: 58.6%
    2006: 63.1%
    2007: 66.1%
    2008: 66.5%
    2009: 67.4%
    2010: 68.7%
    2011: 71.1%

    This site purports to show the acceptance rates at all 204 ABA-accredited schools. As you can see, several admit more than 80% of total applicants. This chart was posted on August 10, 2017. Based on this document, only 30 institutions had acceptance rates lower than 32 percent. I don’t agree that only rich people should consider law school, however those of poor to modest means will essentially be required to take on huge amounts of student debt. And that is one incredible gamble, especially if the school’s name does not carry a lot of weight in the legal and business communities.

    1. Who other than rich people, then, should consider law school? Maybe, just maybe, the few that can get into Harvard or Yale. But they need to know that the risk of a bad result looms large.

    2. To the tool at 5:36 above who said Nando knows nothing about med school,

      Nando is absolutely correct. “Lowering barriers to application for professional schools is idiotic. Could you imagine if US-accredited medical schools made such a decision?”

      After graduating a toilet law school jobless, and salvaging my life by going to a top US accredited med school afterward, I can imagine what would happen. Unlike law schools, med schools have certain prereqs in order to attend. A med student needs a basic understanding of biology, chemistry, and biochemistry in order to understand the material taught at medical school (Organic chem is the notorious prereq, but it is totally worthless and just used to weed out students). When you jump into the first year of med school and have 4 hours of lecture in the morning 4-5 times a week, along with an afternoon lab such as anatomy, microbiology, or histology, there is no time to reteach basic biology. There is a minimum knowledge a student needs to understand and learn the new material. A med student is using their core knowledge of science in order to learn the pathological basis of disease and learn the pharmacological treatments.

      If med schools lowered admission standards and accepted students who were unprepared for med school, those students would be at risk of failing the USMLE step 1 exam. That is the first exam a med student must take after their second year in order to graduate and obtain a medical license. A student who failed to pass step 1 is at risk of wasting tens of thousands of dollars on professional education and two years of their life. Even if the student passed the exam on a subsequent attempt, many residency programs refuse to even interview medical students who failed step 1 on their first attempt. So when the student finally graduates medical school, they are at risk of not matching into a residency program and graduating unemployed. Not only do students have to pass step 1, they must pass step 2 clinical skills and step 2 clinical knowledge before graduating med school. As Nando said above, “[i]n the final analysis, it is far better – for the student and applicant – to be denied entry to an expensive program, rather than to take on outrageous sums of non-dischargeable debt – and then face weak employment prospects.”

      Not only would lower admission standards at medical schools harm the student, lower standards would harm the community as well. People assume when they go to their doctor that the doc has a basic level of competence. There is a basic knowledge a doctor needs to have or else they could put lives in jeopardy. The pig from NYLS wrote a piece recently claiming the bar exam was too burdensome because a lawyer doesn’t need to memorize facts. The pig claimed a lawyer simply needs to know how to research. That statement is absurd when it comes to law, and it is absurd in medicine. A doctor does not see one patient a day with hours of time to research the problem. In many cases, a patient has a problem where the doctor needs to act fast relying on their knowledge. A doctor needs to listen to the patient symptoms and come up with a differential diagnosis. If you don’t think of a possible diagnosis, then you could possibly miss it. A doctor needs to be able to know what physical exam findings to look for in order to narrow down that diagnosis. They need to be able to know what tests to order. Then they need to determine the appropriate treatment, taking into account the patient’s allergies and other health problems. If U.S. medical schools lowered standards, then you would see more people die because of medical malpractice. If you develop an infection and become septic, that is a life threatening medical emergency. You need fluids, pressors, and broad spectrum antibiotics fast. Do you want an unqualified doctor evaluating you in that case. Or as people in the medical profession say, would you want that person evaluating your family member? Do you want an unqualified doctor breaking sterile field in the OR, exposing you to an infection?

    3. Old Guy,

      Student from modest backgrounds should be fine attending law schools such as Yale, Stanford, or Harvard. I suppose there is still some risk involved, but it is comparatively mild. Also, those who attend their home flagship state diploma mill are OK to do so - as long as are completely fine with the prospect of working in a small firm. Plus, they should stay home and keep their personal expenses to a minimum.

      We lose people when we imply or state that only the connected or independently wealthy should consider law school. I would even argue that those who clearly have a decent legal job lined up before they attend an ABA school may be in a good position. Then again, I imagine that number is incredibly small. And there are so many small law firms that go under all the time. Plus, it's not as though you are going to get any such enforceable written offer from your college buddy to work at his law office, before you start a legal education program.

    4. I've said before that people of modest backgrounds should consider Harvard and Yale but understand that they're taking a real risk. That little venture might well cost $300k in non-dischargeable debt for the sake of a career in law that most likely would not last more than a few years.

      Asking people to be "completely fine with the prospect of working in a small firm" is not quite reasonable unless those people are also informed of the difficulty of finding even that sort of job and the low level of income that would most likely attend it.

  13. I just read an article that California is considering lowering their bar passing score, prodded by law schools. Law schools keep pushing to lower requirements for admission, employment outcome reporting and bar passage. Law schools are pond scum factories.


    On August 15, 2017, the American Lawyer published an amazing piece from Vivian Chen, under the headline “Do We Really Want to Make It Easier to Go to Law School?” This should be required reading for everyone considering law school. Here is the full text:

    “Can we cut through the bull about why law schools are now accepting GREs for admission? The fact is that applications are falling, and law schools are desperate for hot bodies to fill their empty seats. (Law schools that now accept the GRE include Harvard, Northwestern and Georgetown, reports The National Law Journal; the first school to do so was the University of Arizona.)

    Not for one minute do I buy the argument that law schools are now realizing that LSATs aren't the end-all/be-all predictor of future success. As for the argument that allowing the GRE for law school admission will attract more hot commodities such as math and science types to apply: Puh-leeze.

    If you're a bright young thing with quantitative or tech abilities, there are less painful ways to make a decent living. As any fourth grader in New York knows, the legal profession kinda sucks. They see how hard lawyer-parents work (compared to those hedge fund parents who have more fun and make a lot more moolah). And they know it's damn impossible to become equity partner in Big Law these days.

    "The Golden Age for law schools is definitely over," says Paul Caron, dean of Pepperdine Law School. "Harvard and the other schools that have jumped on the GRE bandwagon are undoubtedly seeking to expand their pool of potential students."

    So, you might ask, if the pool is shrinking, what do I have against using the GRE to lure a wider array of candidates, especially those smarties who never dreamed of going to law school? To me, the answer is obvious: They shouldn't go to law school precisely because they didn't have an inkling to go in the first place. I mean, aren't there already enough people in the profession who lack passion for practice? Walk down the hall of any major law firm, and you find plenty of miserable, lost souls who'd rather be bricklayers or baristas.

    I know because I was one of them. Like a lot of liberal arts majors, I went to law school because it seemed like such a respectable default. Even with the filter of the LSAT, there are too many of us who end up in law who have no business there. (Note to English majors: Don't believe it when people tell you that writing well will make you a natural fit for law practice. Trust me, legal writing is a different animal.)

    For all those literature, history and art majors out there, the LSAT is the only thing that offers a taste of what it means to "think like a lawyer." I'm talking primarily about the logical reasoning sections—the stuff that few liberal arts majors encounter during four years of college. As Kellye Testy, president of the Law School Admission Council (it administers the LSAT), pointed out to NLJ's Karen Sloan: "Analytical reasoning is 25 percent of the LSAT and zero percent of the GRE. Logical and critical reasoning skills are 50 percent of the LSAT, and zero percent of the GRE."

    If those topics sound dreary and make you want to dodge the LSATs, then maybe that should tell you something.

    So here's where I stand: Limit law school admissions to that awful, forbidding LSAT. Let there be more, not fewer, barriers to going to law school. (Perhaps include psychological testing, too?) That might sound restrictive and undemocratic, but people will be happier for it. Believe me.”


Web Analytics