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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Legal Ed's Futures: No. 47 (Kellye Testy)

Having been a Dean at two law schools for nearly 15 years, I understand the value of flexibility, experimentation, and innovation, and I firmly believe that the ABA Standards should value the same. Doing so does not necessitate throwing out the test requirement that applicants and law schools have relied upon for many years¾at least not without carefully exploring the consequences of doing so and considering alternatives to achieve school-based flexibility while also retaining fairness to applicants.

So, I appreciate Dan Rodriguez’s call for greater collaboration among law school deans, faculty, and administrators, and organizations like LSAC that represent major stakeholders in legal education and the legal profession. At a time when the legal needs of the middle class and poor are largely unmet, and the rule of law itself is under attack, we need to work together. Trusted relationships among all of us involved in law and legal education are vital to addressing the challenges and leveraging the opportunities facing our profession.

Because I embrace Dan’s premise, I disagree with the portions of his comments about the LSAC. His characterization of our engagement on the proposed changes to the ABA’s accreditation standards as “combative” and “scorched earth” apparently rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of LSAC’s position on the proposed changes.

In fact, LSAC’s comments to the ABA were submitted subsequent to Dan’s blog post, and can be found here. LSAC has made the case that the Council’s proposal to eliminate Standard 503 and its requirement of using any valid and reliable admission test as part of the law school admission process would be a serious disservice to law students and law schools, especially when the Council is considering other major changes, and there has not been enough time to consider their cumulative effect on legal education.

Prior to the use of the LSAT, many applicants from diverse backgrounds were denied admission to law school. Today, those who work to advance access and equity in law school admission object to the elimination of Standard 503 because there is overwhelming evidence that relying only upon grades and subjective factors in law school admission impedes diversity. I believe we should give serious consideration to these viewpoints before proceeding.

LSAC has consistently argued that the test score should be considered as one factor in a holistic admission review process. Having these scores is critical to providing an unbiased basis for comparison among applicants and to allowing students to get a realistic view of how they measure against other potential law students and how likely they are to succeed in law school before they invest their time and resources.

Dan Rodriguez’s point that the several organizations focused on supporting various aspects of legal education should collaborate well with one another and with law schools is an important one. My own view is that the level of collaboration among most of these organizations has improved dramatically in the past few years. That does not mean that there is not more room for improvement. 

Kellye Testy (Law School Admissions Council)

Posted by Dan Rodriguez on April 3, 2018 at 04:36 PM in 2018 Symposium: Future of Legal Ed | Permalink

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