Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Let's Just Let EVERYONE Become an Attorney!

In case I didn't mention it before, the ABA is seriously, and I mean seriously, considering dropping the LSAT as a criteria for admission:
According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the American Bar Association is currently looking at a proposal to make the oft-dreaded Law School Admission Test optional. If passed, this proposal would alter the system of law school admissions that has been in place since the first administration of the LSAT in 1948.
I'm tempted to go on a diatribe about how the ABA just doesn't fucking understand.  I think I will.  Like it or not, the LSAT is the great equalizer.  Everyone knows, or should know, that an "A" is easier to get at University of Phoenix than it is at Harvard.  But how can a law school determine who is the better candidate without some sort of equalizing criteria?  The LSAT, that's how.  The University of Phoenix Grad can perhaps usurp the Harvard grad's place with an awesome LSAT score of.... 179 or so.  I know, it's unlikely, but it can happen.

What the hell are law schools supposed to rely on, if not the LSATs?  Extra-curricular bullshit?  Maybe they will do interviews?  Charisma, charm, cleavage can be taken into account?

I can only think that the new plan is to inundate the market with flagrant idiots so that the costs of labor will be floor level and the PPP (Profits Per Partner) will be astronomical.  Let's not kid ourselves.  Anyone who has been a first year associate realizes that the work can be done by pygmy goats.  But that's not an indictment of the profession--once you get to a certain level, things are complicated.  Also, if you do real litigation in a mid-sized or small law firm, the work can be dizzying at times.  So, back to my point--they want to pay lawyers even less than Manmeat Patel in Bangladesh, so that the PPP can be astronomical.  So, part one of the plan: MORE and less competent people should go to law school.  Check!

Then, on the other side of the tunnel, à la the post about the indebted law school grad that can't pass the bar because of law school debt, they will prohibit people from passing the bar.  Then, part two of the plan.  I predict, the ABA will somehow say that bar passage is only required for attorneys that sign documents.  Ta-da!  Two class of lawyers, indentured slave servants who probably should not have gone to law school to begin with--and the Partners, the upper echelon of the legal profession.

That's my prediction.  What do you think?

The ABA can't possibly be considering the needs of lawyers as a whole when it considers dip shit moves like this one.  Since I know that they all took the LSATs and are moderately competent people, I can only assume that their goals for the legal industry are wholly divergent from ours.  The collect "ours" being that of recent, debt-laden grads who are without work or a loaf of bread upon which to spread Jiffy.  I know the LSAT sucks.  However, it's a test that you can master and you can distinguish yourself from the masses with that goddamn test.  In the article mentioned above, some  GT Hoya says:
"While I agree that the LSAT often discriminates against some students and that it may not be a fair assessment of a person's worth or talent, it is certainly the only measure we currently have to gage a student's ability to succeed in law school," Mehta said in an email. "Until a new, unbiased form of testing can be put into place, there is currently no better way to gauge a student's ability to perform in such a demanding profession."
I have to disagree with him wholeheartedly.  Once you get to a certain level, maybe 165, you're not more or less likely to do better than other students that score higher than you.  On the other hand, if you score <150, you have no business going to law school at all.  You don't have the aptitude for it... hell, maybe you had a bad day.  The point is, that law school will be bad day after bad day and you can't handle the pressure.  Stay home, cause you'll be living there after you complete law school anyway-your childhood home.  Let's end with what this idiot's quote regarding the "plus" side of eliminating the LSAT:

Evan Monod (COL '14), who is considering a career as an attorney, believes that the cost of the test itself, test preparation and the long hours of studying serve as a deterrent to students who might otherwise enter the legal profession.
"I would definitely support making it optional because I think it would increase the number of kids able to go to a good law school and participate in a profession that we desperately need bright people in," Monod said.
Exactly my point.  Lift the flood gates.  Where is Noah's ark when you need it?


  1. I see your point, Angel, and share your concern. For some reason, the ABA thinks that everyone, no matter their intelligence or educational background, should get a J.D. Of course, we know that money is the driving factor.

    But I am going to play devil's advocate and propose to you that eliminating the LSAT might, in the long run, be a good thing. Hear me out -

    How many idiots who cruise through some no-name college and get a liberal arts degree in art history decide to take the LSAT? My guess - quite a few. Some of this students will do reasonably well on the LSAT say (160-165) and think, gee, I scored in the 80%, I think I will be good at this law thing even though I have no clue what it is lawyers actually do or what the legal market is like. Then they commit themselves.

    To make matters worse, the LSAT forces law schools to take students who do reasonably well on the LSAT seriously. If you get a 165, you will likely get accepted to a T1 school, and possibly a T25, despite having no other reason to be there. You might even pull a scholarship at a T2 school.

    This, in my opinion, is a major factor in clogging the law school system. Let's face it, it's not that hard and most people can post a respectable score with a little work. To entirely exacerbate the problem, the LSAT is a very poor test to determine who would make a good law student or lawyer.

    As far as distinguishing students without the LSAT, most schools (i.e., all but the TTTs and TTTTs) recognize that a B- at Harvard goes a lot farther than an A at University of Phoenix. Also, most admissions committees favor difficult, hard science-based majors over the liberal arts. So I think the LSAT is too much of an equalizer, and potential law students should be judged almost exclusively on their undergraduate institution and major/gpa.

    I think the best thing the ABA could do is offer a series of difficult undergrad classes that are required to enter law school - classes that would also be helpful in the practice of law, like an advanced accounting class, college algebra (logic), finance, upper-level statistics, etc. I am shocked at how my law students do not take any such classes. It makes them ill-preprared for the practice of law because, God knows, law schools won't teach them. And think of how many potential medical students get turned off at organic chemistry? The same thing would happen for law schools.

    Just food for thought...

  2. I'm not the biggest supporter of the LSAT, mostly because, as you seem to suggest, the difference between a 172 and a 162 is negligible for practical legal purposes, but astronomical in terms of the gates opened up. It's a rather poor test in that regard. But you're absolutely right that SOMETHING needs to be there to tell student and school alike who is best-suited for law school.

    The problem isn't the test's existence, but the test itself. Learning the tricks of logic games does nothing to help with law school. Nor does straightforward reading comprehension, since much of law isn't, well, straightforward.

    I think if were a law school dean, I would have a special admissions test required of all applicants. Basically, I would make anyone who wanted to apply show up on a Saturday. I would sit them all in an auditorium and there would be a sample problem typical of 1st-year students. With no advice whatsoever, I would ask them to write for 30-minutes, giving arguments for both sides and what they think a fair result would be and why. They submit those and then break down into groups of 10 or so, meet with a faculty member, and talk about the problem for an hour and a half Socratic-style.

    I think you would be able to tell, rather quickly, who is cut out for the game.

    I also like Anonymous' idea of requiring certain non-easy courses in undergrad. My personal choice curriculum would be intro to political theory, macro- and micro-economics, philosophy of law, rhetoric, logic, and two years' worth of composition courses. And in today's climate, requiring advanced study of a relevant foreign language and a course on International Studies wouldn't hurt, either.

  3. The girl's complaint about the LSAT requiring too much cost and effort on the part of a prospective student makes me laugh. Try getting into med school. 8 required science courses (all with labs), hundreds of hours volunteering/shadowing, and then the MCAT (which covers 4 science topics).

    Compare that to law school which has no required courses, and a test that requires no outside knowledge. My friend scored in the mid 160's his first time SEEING the test. He's now at a tier 1 law school. Unbelievable.

  4. The ABA is a complete disgrace. My only hope is that when their supporting partners and big firms die out (they are dropping like flies - Howrey is next), the only ones left (i.e. the 150k in debt no job to graduate to generation) will vote with their feet and put them out of business by refusing to support them with dues. I have yet to see how the ABA in any way reflects the interests of anyone but big law. In terms of the LSAT, I'm not a huge fan, it's a privately administered test (for profit right?) and frankly I know many people who did poorly on the LSAT (myself included) who graduated at the top of their class. I don't think the LSAT is a fair indicator on predetermining success in law school, which in many cases just makes it another way to get money from people.

  5. I'm sorry, the LSAT is a farce and needs to go. It in no way, shape or form bares any relation to ability to succeed in law school or as a lawyer. More importantly, a small difference in score has no statistical meaning but can have an astronomical effect on the school you get into as well as your future career.
    A person is much better off if they bust ass or get lucky for a one day test and get into Harvard than they are if they get a sub 165 and have to compete for law review.

  6. I think this is another terrible idea and will definitely lead to even more clueless college grads thinking law school is the way to go. Think about how many more attorneys there are than jobs already, with all of the deterrents already put in place. What they need to do is make the bar exams much tougher, get rid of some lower tier law schools entirely, and stop the spread of propaganda that law is a good career option for most people. Everyone thinks they will be the exception to the rule, but more often then not they are just the rule. Its better to figure that out on the front end than the back end. Unbelievable, no LSAT. Next maybe we can get rid of law school altogether and switch to the British model.

  7. I have been a plaintiff's lawyer for the past 24 years. Many of us in the plaintiff's bar have known for some time that the ABA does not support the interests of anyone but big law firms and entrenched judiciary. That they claim to "safeguard" the integrity of the legal profession is akin to the fox claiming to guard the chicken coop.

    Tricia Dennis
    Chattanooga, TN

  8. It's been reported that even people with Down Syndrome can go to college! Maybe the ABA and the law schools will allow people with Down Syndrome to become lawyers, too. Why not? Their tuition dollars are just as good as anyone else's tuition dollars.

  9. If you get rid of the LSAT, the only way schools will be able to differentiate applicants will be GPA and undergraduate institution. Will the end result be that graduates of inexpensive no-name state schools will be rendered inadmissible to the top schools while anyone with a 3.5+ from an Ivy League school will be able to gain admission?

    The LSAT helps level the playing field for the lower classes or at least for those who only attended no-name state schools but performed well academically.

  10. They're dropping the LSAT first, so that it removes a barrier to accrediting foreign law schools. They can't expand in the US any longer. So they're moving overseas.

    The ABA is just getting its ducks in a row before it moves on to more lucrative untapped markets. It has nothing to do with the LSAT's merits as a test.

  11. "It in no way, shape or form bares any relation to ability to succeed in law school or as a lawyer."

    I am guessing that you mean "bears".

  12. Two words explain why they're doing this: achievement gap.

    Like it or not, there is one. I do not know what causes it. I don't care. What's relevant is the motivation of the ABA.

    There are exactly three solutions that can narrow that achievement gap: 1) Make the test so difficult as to make everybody fail equally. 2) Make the test so darn easy that everybody aces it. 3) Eliminate the test.

    I guess the ABA decided to go with what was behind door number 3.

  13. May everyone involved in this horrible endeavor called US Higher Education and especially Law in the US 21st century be cursed and damned for all eternity.

    Dear God, how has humanity become so disgraced and degraded?

    God, if you do exist, do not stand idly by while anyone takes out a student loan from this point forward.

    And Dear God, if you hear me, and yet still continue to allow poor innocent children to take on life destroying student debt,

    then I stand here and denounce you, and with a right good will, give my soul to the Devil--

    for sure all can agree that by now Satan, though Evil, has never been so subtle and cunning and Evil as Al Lord and Sallie Mae.

    And Satan is surely more merciful than God is by now, because an eternity in flames is far more pleasurable than a surreal and heartbreaking lifetime of deception from people we trusted the most---our teachers. Teachers that are mere lackeys for Al Lord.

    May nada have mercy on my nada soul. Damn it all.

    I'm sorry for you kids. Really, really, sorry.

    I am surey sorry for having left you younger people a society and world that is so miserable and hopeless.

    ahead lies nothing, before lies nothing....

    nada, nada, nada, nada

    peace can only be found in the grave.

  14. You bunch of dramatic pansies. Quit whining and get back to work. For reals.

  15. I don't understand how any of you can possibly claim that the LSAT is an equalizer. It's an equalizer of what? it's been proven to bear almost no resemblance to a person's ability to do well in law school, the bar, as a lawyer, or even overall common sense (half of the people who do well spend thousands on prep courses to "think" like the test takers think). The answers aren't even right...they are just "right" in the eyes of the test makers. The real goal of studying for the LSAT is to THINK LIKE THEY DO--> NOT THINK CORRECTLY. MY STORY: was a poor waiter, busting my ass to try to make ends meat and didn't have the money or the resources to adequately take 3-4 months off and study for an admissions test. I got into a crappy law school solely because of my lousy LSAT (155)(despite having a near 4.0 from a good school in a difficult major). Once in law school I quickly established myself as a top 5 student, transferred to a tier one law school and dominated there too. Further, I've kicked ass in almost every endeavor I've undertaken legally. LSAT= a joke and zero indication of ANYTHING. My argument however is not that there shouldn't be something to replace it with. In fact, I do think that some sort of test or other indicator should be implemented. However, the LSAT is NOT the answer. As it stands, you have a meaningless test deciding people's lives all over the country. As the one poster pointed out...if you get lucky and score a 175 on the test, you're Harvard bound with a set future (making 150k right out of the gate...because why? because of luck?). Is that a smart system you're endorsing? It sounds like a bunch of morons sat around and came up with the most useless measuring device known to man and called it the LSAT.

  16. You're absolutely wrong on the point about grades at Harvard. You should know that generally everyone at Harvard/Yale et al. gets "A" grades. Theses places have rampant grade inflation. My law school had a "B" curve; it was very hard to get an "A." I'm sure many others can attest to this grade inflation. Maybe at Harvard you get a B+ or an A-, but in my experience in talking to people, they hand out A grades like Bernanke prints hundred dollar bills.

  17. In fact, Yale Law students do not even get grades during their first year so as to allow the kiddies to adjust to law school!!! (or maybe it is only the first semsester - can't remember).

  18. Actually, the LSAT is a somewhat reliable predictor of first year grades, though even a top score does not guarantee admission to Harvard Law School.

    "to make ends meat"
    I think that you mean "meet".

    Anyone who has to study for three months for the LSAT is a moron. (I studied a coupe of days and scored in the 99th percentile (a 47 back in the old days).

  19. I meant a "couple"

  20. A reader on my blog pointed this out to me, the other day. Apparently, this guy did a decent job of practicing law without a license - or even attending three years of idiocy, i.e. law school.

    “No one suspected anything for years because he did everything right -- except obtain a law degree,” Sheriff Tom Dart said.

  21. Agree with Bob. What good is the LSAT when your score is determined by how much money you have to take a prep course? Not to mention the irrelevance to real life law practice.

    There should be something but I think it should be a metric NOT dependent on how much money one has for a prep course. There's no financial aid or a scholarship through any of those companies, at least there wasn't when I took it.

    You should be more concerned that a monkey with a million dollars could pass law school since it would have money for study courses & supplemental materials before & during law school.

  22. So get rid of the LSAT and leave it up to udergrad credentials? Come on. So Tommy from Compton that had to go to community college because he went to a crap high school gets passed up for Bridget whose daddy sent her to USC and had her in Beverly Hills High? I'm not supporter of the LSAT but it definitely gives people a chance that wouldn't get a second look otherwise. Everyone doesn't have the means to attend a top undergrad university. The LSAT at least gives them something to stand on.

  23. Anonymous, that argument doesn't really make sense...because the expensive LSAT prep courses (e.g. Kaplan) boost grades on average 10-20 points. Who's spending 3k for an LSAT and taking 3 months off from "the real world" other than the privileged? The LSAT, if ANYTHING, disfavors minorities who don't have alot of money to spend memorizing logic patterns used by the clowns who invented the LSAT.

  24. I disagree. I realize that I have all the advantages that come with being the son of a postal clerk (and two parents that never went to college), but the LSAT provided me the opportunity to smoke all the rich kids (which I did, without taking three months off). Absent the LSAT (or something like it), law school admissions would simply mirror the privileges in undergraduate academia.

  25. I'm confused about that statement. What privileges are there by having to bust your ass and work hard and study to do well for 4 straight years? Really the LSAT is unfair. You sound like a poor kid who had awful grades, lucked out on a test, and lucked out into law school. I don't think someone like you who sucked for a large marjority of his academic career should bypass good students simply because of a single test. It's not fair or equitable. But hey, life isn't fair right?

  26. Not at all.
    An earlier post had evidenced concern that all an LSAT score indicated was the amount of preparation time available and the use of a good prep course.
    My concern is that undergraduate GPA is usually a function of (1) difficulty of one's major, (2) study time available, and (3) tutoring available. The wealthy definitely benefit from the last two and can control (to some extent) the first. I had decent grades as an undergraduate at a highly ranked university, but I had to work my way through, unlike most of my peers, and the LSAT provided the opportunity to demonstrate that it was not a failure of intellect but a lack of time that had prevented me from doing even better. If I "lucked out into law school" I have been lucking out ever since (post law school fellowship, judicial clerkship, currently earning six figures). I will go with Napoleon who said that he wanted only lucky generals working for him.

  27. I'm pretty sure that if they got rid of the LSAT for getting into law school, then the reputable law schools will use something like the Graduate Record Exam instead.

    The disreputable schools will let you into law school today with an LSAT score of 144. They would simply stop pretending if the LSAT was done away with. It would be painfully obvious what tier a school is in.

  28. Some schools have their own admission criteria for example the Massachusetts School of Law does not use the LSAT.

    I don't know much about them. I will try to find some statistics but according to the MBE website out of 152 total takers only 66 passed? Same with SNESL now Umass law. Which is about 52% bar passage rate total. If you look at every other school with exception of Western NE, they are all above an 85% pass rate. Rates for FTT - are about 70% for that school which is non-aba approved and doesn't accept the LSAT.

    That tells you something important I think about the LSAT as a indicator of bar exam success later. Anyone with a liberal arts degree and average intelligence can get though Law school. I did it. I'm not that smart. I am just very good at figuring out what I will be tested on and making sure I know EXACTLY what they want from me. I also cheated..a lot.

    LOL. But seriously getting rid of the LSAT would be a bad idea. I got a 154 LSAT and passed the bar on my first try. But it was very hard since I am not too good with multistates. I went to a tier 3 school though. I couldn't get into a better one. But hey, at least I passed. I agree with Angel though. IF you get less than a <150 don't bother.



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