The country’s top law schools are leading the charge to bring changes to the admissions process. It started in March when Harvard Law School announced that it would begin accepting GRE scores for admission for its incoming fall 2018 class.
On Monday, Georgetown Law said it also would be accepting both the GRE and the LSAT for admission into its 2018 class.
“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,” said Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt in a statement. “We think that allowing the use of the GRE will help us to accomplish that goal.”
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law also announced Monday that it will begin accepting the GRE beginning in 2018 for its incoming fall 2019 class.
Those two announcements come on the eve of the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in New York, where the association will discuss possible changes to its policy that requires accredited law schools to use a “valid and reliable admission test” as part of the admissions process.
The first school to let applicants submit the GRE was the University of Arizona College of Law, which started the practice last year.
Calling itself the nation’s largest law school, Georgetown Law leadership said the change in the school’s admissions process is designed to lower barriers to entry and encourage more qualified people to apply. Georgetown Law receives some 9,000 applications annually, according to the school.
The LSAT is offered fewer times a year than the GRE and the cost of the exam and what some may describe as soul-crushing preparation required to get a high score may deter students who also want to take the GRE for other graduate school opportunities.
The Law School Admission Council, the organization that administers the LSAT, is aware of those challenges. New President and CEO Kellye Y. Testy has made increasing access to the LSAT one of her initiatives. The LSAC has a partnership with Khan Academy to provide free practice materials, is increasing the frequency of the exam and was set to pilot a digital exam earlier this year, according to the LSAC website.
After Harvard Law changed its admissions policy, Maryland law schools deans said that they were going to wait for guidance from the ABA on whether the GRE is an appropriate way to measure prospective law students.
“We will monitor that process whether that would make sense at UB,” said Ronald Weich, dean of University of Baltimore School of Law in March.
Donald Tobin, dean of University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, said certain questions need to be answered before the school can look at allowing other tests for admission.
“Accessibility and access are top priorities for law schools in general,” he said. “I do think we need to get some guidance about whether the GRE is a valid test we’re allowed to use.”
Anamika Roy is a part-time student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.