Bar association under fire for proposal to abandon LSAT after study shows minorities score lower

Recommendation follows a 2019 study that found black test-takers score 142 on average, 11 points lower than the average for white and Asian test-takers.

Published: November 27, 2022 3:19pm

Updated: November 27, 2022 11:06pm

The American Bar Association is under fire after taking steps to abandon LSAT entrance exam scores as a law school admissions requirement after a study showed that minority applicants score lower. 

The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved the proposed standards revision earlier this month.

The proposed change now goes to the association's policy-making body, the House of Delegates, for review in February. "But final approval to change ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools rests with the council, which serves as an independent arm of the ABA for the accreditation of the nation’s law schools," said Bill Adams, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education.

The vote comes after a 2019 study found that black test-takers score 142 on average, 11 points lower than the average for white and Asian test-takers. The 50th percentile is approximately 152 on the test, which gives scores ranging from 120 to 180. The Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT, does not readily publish data about scores by race.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) told "Just the News, No Noise" TV show last week that he wishes the LSAT was not a requirement when he was applying to law schools. 

"I can guarantee you that's going to have an effect on their schools' bar passage rate if they do away with that," he said.

"But again, it's another example where it's identity politics or, you know, they're more concerned about affirmative action and race than they are the people that can intellectually pass the rigors of law school and become good lawyers," Steube said.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board blasted the ABA move. "The American Bar Association's move to discard objective tests won’t enhance diversity," the board wrote on Thursday. Without the testing, the board argued, students will arrive at school less prepared and unready for the eventual bar exam, which it said may be targeted for elimination next.

Sixty law school deans also signed a letter to the ABA in September stating that eliminating the testing requirement will "diminish the diversity of
law schools' incoming classes."

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