▼Professional Potential vs. LSAT & Merit Limitations▼
○ ○ ○Making good on my promise in the last installment to expatiate on how not all lawyers
thrive due to prevailing structures, realities, barriers and conditions, let's begin with
& originated by the very best of Ivy League law schools, it's the most important
yet culturally flawed criterion used (in the name of merit) to gain admission
to Law School in America. Designed to judge law school applicants' ability
to successfully complete law study, a serious multibillion-dollar industry
of rankings games led by US News & World Report and spurred on by
a delicate law school admissions/faculty 'ego boost' trip vis-à-vis
high LSAT score of new admits, bragging rights and a general
Ivy League-obsessed elitism having nothing to do with the
the professional predictors for successful lawyering, is
what thrives. $250,000 in loans & Law School later.
What I as a UPenn law applicant, attempted argu-
ing & failed in 1999, namely: that a more holistic
and new paradigm of merit is needed in the
law school admission process; that on-the-
job professional lawyer effectiveness is
more accurately predictable by means
other than obsession with the LSAT,
was achieved, thanks to the 2008
Zedeck-Shultz Study. Prompted
by Proposition 209 in Califor-
nia, the banning of race as a
consideration in admissions
was UC Berkeley lawyer
Shultz and psychologist
Zedeck to exploratory
study. See takeaways
able PDF # SSRN-
id1442118 is the
file name of
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My answer: YES. Unless you're enormously affluent.
Nothing wrong with having a dream. But it's important to know if you're being sold a false dream.
...Law schools choose the nation’s lawyers...Entry into the schools whose graduates fill important judicial, political, economic and advocacy roles is the narrowest point in the pipeline. If you asked people whether society should choose those lawyers almost entirely on school smarts and cognitive ability, most people would say no. But to a large extent, that’s what happens. [says Shultz].
Legal education is unusually stratified, and schools at the upper end of the hierarchy produce a disproportionate number of the profession’s most privileged and influential members...
Because a very high percentage of graduates from elite law schools...pass the bar, it is the entry into law school rather than bar passage that is the narrow point in the professional pipeline. In that important sense, choosing law students is tantamount to choosing the country’s leading attorneys.
Law schools, particularly elite law schools, assess applicants mainly on the basis of who will make a good law student rather than who will make a good lawyer. [Shultz]
Most make no organized effort to assess likely professional competence; their admission decisions are dominated by narrow criteria intended mainly to predict academic performance. This lack of congruity between function and means arguably undermines professional quality and certainly raises questions about justification. Although other professions also rely on academic predictors, they pay attention to assessing professional potential as well.
Medical schools explicitly consider whether an applicant will make a good doctor, placing substantial weight on noncognitive abilities such as motivation and human interaction skills.
Business schools seek students with work experience in business, evaluating multiple essays to determine clarity of career goals and placement potential. But law schools, particularly elite law schools, assess applicants mainly on the basis of who will make a good law student rather than who will make a good lawyer.
Of course, good law students and good lawyers have important things in common, but treating the two roles as co-extensive or interchangeable is inappropriate.
Test scores and past grades are arguably the main way to predict students’ likely excellence in similar academic endeavors. But practicing lawyers need a much wider range of competencies and commitments. “A lot of data show that whites and some Asian subgroups perform better by a significant degree on school-based, cognitive, paper-and-pencil tests than underrepresented minorities. If we admit mostly on the basis of those criteria, then we tend to admit whites and Asians who excel in school,” says Shultz, who has worked in the area of race policy and justice for the past decade.
Selecting prospective lawyers on the basis of a broader range of competencies should improve the quality of the profession. In addition, these methods might also increase the racial diversity of law school entrants.
Although there is rather consistent disparity between racial groups in performance on academic (school-type) tests, available research shows that job performance by underrepresented minority groups is substantially similar to that of whites.
Another comparison fuels skepticism about current admission practice. Law schools are professional schools. The vast majority of their graduates practice law or take jobs that rely on their legal training. But in making admission decisions, law schools depend more heavily on academic test scores than do many graduate departments.
To rely very heavily on a narrow subset of academic skills (in which the performance of racial groups most diverges) while ignoring a broad array of competencies important to professional effectiveness (in which racial groups perform rather similarly) unfairly advantages white applicants...we believe consideration of professional competencies is both principled and justified...we are attempting to develop an empirically valid and feasible way to make that possible.
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