UB Law School to offer LSAT-free admission for some students
Exam waived for students who meet requirements, Honors College students guaranteed admission
Oyin Lapite, a sophomore legal studies major, is preparing to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) this summer. She said it’s expensive, time consuming and mandatory.
Starting in the fall of 2015, some students will no longer need the exam to get into UB’s law school. UB students who meet certain criteria will not be required to take the LSAT for admittance into UB’s law school for the 2015 fall semester.
UB’s not the only school to make this move. In August, the American Bar Association ruled schools could have up to 10 percent of their incoming classes made up of students who didn’t take the test. Numerous schools had done it before the ruling – but with special permission from the Bar Association.
University of Iowa College of Law also announced this month it will be accepting applicants who have not taken the LSAT.
It’s a decision that could help plummeting law school enrollments across the country.
UB’s law school, for example, announced in March that it would reduce its incoming class from 200-225 students to fewer than 200 and its faculty from 48 to 40.
“The general picture is that the number of students nationally taking the LSAT and applying to law school has decreased,” said UB law professor Martha McCluskey. “For many colleges below the elite, declining applications and enrollment has meant some downward trend in entering student LSAT scores, thereby risking some possible ranking changes.”
“The general picture is that the number of students nationally taking the LSAT and applying to law school has decreased.” — Martha McCluskey
Under the new system, UB undergrads who maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher through six semesters at UB, and who have scored in the 85th percentile on a standardized test (like the SAT), will not be required to take the test and will get priority consideration. Students in the Honors College are now guaranteed admission into the law school and also do not need to take the LSAT.
Will students still be just as prepared?
“We think this will allow us to matriculate more high-level students from UB,” said Jim Newton, vice dean for administration at the law school. “We’re going to partner very closely with the Honors College. This allows better partnership and exposure for students considering law school.”
A Bar Association spokesperson said that not requiring the LSAT would not compromise law schools having a “sound program of legal education,” because accepted, incoming students have “demonstrated that they can do the work.”
Anna Kozlowski, a junior interdisciplinary social sciences major and member of pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, said she doesn’t think forgoing the LSAT takes away from the caliber of students entering UB’s program, especially when considering Honors College students’ automatic acceptance.
“It takes a lot to get into the Honors College to begin with,” she said. “In order to stay in you have to take a certain number of Honors credits like a senior thesis, studying abroad and learning a foreign language and keep a ridiculously high GPA if you’re a Presidential Scholar. The Honors College is meant to bring in the top half of your graduating class.”
Lapite doesn’t think the policy is fair to undergraduate students applying to law school, as she said having good grades doesn’t necessarily mean students are fit for a career as a lawyer.
“It’s a bit unfair because people work hard, and can’t necessarily get a 3.5 [GPA],” Lapite said. “The LSAT tells you, ‘OK, this is where he or she belongs.’”
But Kozlowski – like many other law school hopefuls – aren’t too fond of the LSAT anyway.
The price of the LSAT
Kozlowski said UB isn’t on her list of law school applications. So she is still taking the test in June. She has spent $100 on review books and $950 on a preparation class (that’s on the cheaper end) and is devoting 10-15 hours per week to studying.
The LSAT is only offered four times a year and has a fee of $170, and many students can spend up to $2,000 on preparation classes for the exam. Lindsey Sutton, associate director of admissions at the law school, said that although students spend a lot of time and money on registration and preparation for the LSAT, it is only one of many factors that predict students’ success in their first year of law school.
“The LSAT is something a lot of people spend a lot of time and money to prepare for,” Sutton said. “We view this is as a really great opportunity to improve access and minimize costs for undergraduate students who are sure they want to pursue law school.”
Andrew Tabashneck, a second-year law student at UB, said although the LSAT may be “archaic,” the overall process of studying and completing the test helped him build the stress tolerance necessary for success in law school.
“But as with any standardized test, there will always be people whose brilliance is not captured by a test score,” Tabashneck said.
The new policy’s impact
Sutton said students have been coming to her office uncertain of the new requirements and whether or not they are exempt from taking the LSAT.
Sutton is encouraging any students with concerns or questions to go to the admissions office and speak with someone.
Jake Levine, a freshman biomedical sciences and mathematics major in the Honors College, said that the new policy wouldn’t affect him because he would not consider attending UB’s law school. He said he would rather “go to a top school.”
“I’m not planning on going to a 120th ranked – or whatever it is – law school,” Levine said.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UB as the No.100 law school in the country for 2014.
Levine said he plans on taking the LSAT in his junior year in order to apply to another law school.
Kozlowski said a lot of her friends haven’t heard about the UB’s new policy, as it was announced last week.
She said some people do consider law school because of the LSAT, and law schools may be enacting such policies to boost enrollment.
“A lot of people aren’t going to law school anymore because the job market isn’t what is used to be for attorneys,” she said. “But I definitely think a lot of people get scared off by the LSAT.”
Tom Dinki contributed reporting
Katie Coleman is an assistant news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org