In March, Harvard Law School announced that it would change admissions procedures and stop requiring the Law School Admission Test.
Months later, another highly ranked law school is following suit.
Georgetown University Law Center said in a statement Monday that it will start accepting the Graduate Record Examination as well as the LSAT. Prospective students for the 2018 entering class will be able to submit scores from either or both tests, according to a news release.
“While the LSAT remains an important admissions tool, we also believe that it is well past time that the legal profession open wide the doors to an even more diverse population that better reflects American society as a whole,” Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt said in the release. “We think that allowing the use of the GRE will help us to accomplish that goal.”
The Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law on Monday announced a similar change, although its shift will begin in fall 2018 and impact students seeking admission for fall 2019.
With the move, Georgetown Law said it was trying to make it easier for “highly-qualified applicants who might otherwise not apply” to the school. Previously, costs could be a concern for potential applicants and the LSAT testing schedule is “far more restrictive than the GRE,” the release stated.
“Georgetown Law is committed to attracting the best and the brightest students of all backgrounds,” Dean William M. Treanor said in the release. “We believe this change will make the admissions process more accessible to students who have great potential to make a mark here at Georgetown Law and in successful legal careers, but who might find the LSAT to be a barrier for whatever reason.”
About 9,000 prospective students apply to Georgetown Law’s JD program each year, according to the school.
Harvard Law’s change was a pilot program. The institution was not the first law school in the United States to make such a move. That was the University of Arizona College of Law, which last year let applicants send in GRE scores instead of LSAT scores.
“We’ve long, for 70 years, worked with the LSAT, which is the gold standard in law school admissions tests,” said Kellye Testy, president and CEO of the Law School Admission Council, a member organization that provides products and services, including the LSAT. “We have no objection to schools being innovative, or if there’s another method that they think will help them admit students … but we do hope that schools will take a little bit of time to actually study whether this is a valid and reliable test.”
The LSAT was developed by law schools and is designed specifically for the law school experience, Testy said. It prioritizes the skills that one might need to succeed both in the law school classroom and in the legal profession, and emphasizes areas such as critical reasoning and reading comprehension. The GRE, on the other hand, was created for a general graduate audience. It tests verbal skills, Testy said, as well as math skills.
“The one question I would have and that I would love to study is, is that a good predictor of law school success?” Testy said. “I wonder about that.”