The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) will launch a pilot program in three undergraduate institutions this fall that will provide a “new, holistic pathway to law school.”
Cornell College, Northeastern University, and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore will be the testing grounds for the new Legal Education Program by the LSAC. The curriculum will “help students develop the skills necessary for success in law, navigate the law school admission process, and build a supportive community of belonging in law,” according to a press release.
Completion of the course may offer a comparable future alternative to the LSAT for law school admission. Currently, ABA-accredited law schools require “valid and reliable” admissions testing under ABA Standard 503.
Experts from the participating schools predict that students in the pilot program will still take the LSAT and their results will assist in proving the validity of the program as a predictor of a student’s law school success.
DEI benefits of the Legal Education Program
LSAC expects the Legal Education Program will increase diversity in legal education, according to its website.
By providing students with the skills and support system needed for success in the legal profession earlier, the program may provide more opportunities for first-generation college students and other underrepresented groups.
Additionally, a new method of determining legal aptitude outside of testing will allow students with different cultural backgrounds and learning styles to choose the admissions pathway that best suits their needs.
An advisory committee including DEI advocates will oversee the pilot program to ensure the curriculum reaches its objective of broadening law school pipelines for diverse groups.
This isn’t the first LSAT alternative
Many law schools no longer require the LSAT for admission. In fact, the ABA has authorized accredited law schools to accept the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in place of the LSAT since November of 2021, after almost five years of discussion. A large number of law schools now accept GRE scores in place of the LSAT, including many prominent T-14 law schools.
Anecdotally, some experts have reported that even in schools where the GRE is accepted, admissions staff may show a preference for applicants with an LSAT score. LSAT scores may also be preferred when receiving scholarships.
Ultimately, the ABA will determine whether LSAC’s refined Legal Education Program meets the criteria for a valid and reliable determination of whether a student “appears capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar,” per ABA standards.
What’s next for the Legal Education Program?
The pilot program will be informed by measurement science. The leaders of the initiative will use the results to determine the effectiveness of the program and any changes needed.
LSAC will share periodic updates and will eventually announce a permanent name for the initiative.