The National Law Journal has reported that the American Bar Association (ABA) is now considering the possibility of making the LSAT optional for students wishing to enroll for graduation in law or Juris Doctor.
American (and most Canadian) students wishing to pursue a degree in law are required to sit for this standardized half-day test administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) , scores in which are treated by law schools as a reflection of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills among applicants. The LSAT score has been a compulsory requirement in the application package of any student applying to law school to study for a J.D. In fact, high LSAT averages in schools have usually led to higher placement of schools in many of the reputed law school rankings, leading some of them to overemphasize these scores, often at the cost of diversity and other more rounded dimensions of student profile.
Now, according to reports from multiple sources, the ABA is contemplating scrapping the mandatory requirement of LSAT qualification and instead, leaving it up to the schools to decide whether they wish to make it a necessary application component. In the past, schools such as the Massachusetts School of Law, which scrapped the LSAT requirement, were not eligible for accreditation by the ABA; if the mentioned proposal is passed, any school would have the flexibility to decide its own admissions procedure with or without LSAT requirement, and without being penalized for it. The move is expected to encourage ongoing attempts to increase diversity in law school classes.
However, regardless of the ABA's final recommendation in this context, most law schools are expected to continue with the LSAT as a requirement for admissions, at least for now. As pointed out by Donald J. Polden, dean of the law school at Santa Clara University in Inside HigherEd, there is still a grey area around whether policies would govern that law schools may require the test of some but not all applicants. In such a situation, it could create problems for schools in reporting data relating to applicants and students.
Moreover, even if the LSAT score is completely negated for all students, the question of coming up with an alternative measure for the relative merits of applicants, especially in decisions of financial aid awards, would be a crucial one for schools.