ASU Law broadens admissions policy because of coronavirus

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is altering its admissions policy is a significant way in wake of COVID-19.

Law schools have traditionally relied on the LSAT as a measuring tool ...

Some go with the GRE ...

Arizona State will broaden its admissions to accept students with GRE scores, but it's going a step further.

It will even consider students who haven't taken any standardized test at all. 

These applicants will be considered for admission into the J.D. program as well as ASU Law’s Master of Legal Studies Honors (MLSH) Program, which is a conditional admission program that provides students an opportunity to gain entry to the Juris Doctor program through outstanding classroom performance.

“We have always been committed to removing barriers to a legal education, and this is especially important right now,” said ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester. “There are a lot of talented law school prospects who either don’t have access to the LSAT at the moment or don’t do their best work on standardized tests. We want to open doors, not close them, and give these students an opportunity to pursue an education at a top-ranked law school.”

The March and April LSAT tests were canceled because of the pandemic. The Law School Admission Counsel has created an at-home test, called LSAT-Flex, which will be administered in late May. The June test will also be administered that way.

ASU is offering an alternative if prospective students don't go that route. 

ASU Law’s MLSH program was created to give students who were not offered a spot in the J.D. class a chance to prove that they can succeed in law school. MLSH students take the same classes as J.D. students in the fall semester. If they can place in the top half of their class, MLSH students can then enroll in the JD program in the spring.

Students who fall short of the GPA requirement can continue to earn a degree in the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program with the completion of one additional semester of study. The MLS degree is designed specifically for non-lawyer professionals who want to advance their careers through a greater understanding of legal principles.

Nabeal Sunna was initially admitted to the MLSH Program and is now a second year J.D. candidate at ASU Law.

“There are plenty of reasons why a prospective student may not be offered admission to a particular school. Many of us have that one semester in college where things just didn't go as planned, or maybe we weren't 100% on LSAT day,” said Sunna, second year JD candidate at ASU Law. “The MLSH program gave me a chance to prove that I was better than my transcript and LSAT score. Instead of spending months re-taking the LSAT and going through the admissions process again, the MLSH program allowed me a faster path to graduation.”

The American Bar Association (ABA) requires ABA-accredited law schools to use an admissions test, and the LSAT has long been the standard. More recently, law schools have used the GRE to satisfy the “valid and reliable” test requirement.

But nothing shows you will succeed in law school more than success in law school. The MLSH is a much clearer indication that a candidate will succeed than any standardized test, including the LSAT, and it does not carry some of the complicated social history generally attributed to standardized tests.

The new rules at ASU Law — which was recently named the No. 24 law school by U.S. News and World Report  also allow for students to apply without any standardized exam, with a one-semester tryout serving as the ABA-required test.

“In those cases, we will be looking for students with high grade-point averages, letting their undergraduate success demonstrate their academic abilities,” said Andrew Jaynes, ASU Law’s assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. “We know there are many outstanding students who will excel in their law studies but don’t perform well on standardized tests. We want to give them a chance, and our MLSH program is that opportunity.”

Students applying with the GRE or no standardized test must still register with and apply through the Law School Admission Council. ASU Law is waiving its application fee, and applicants can email to request a Credential Assembly Service fee waiver (valued at $45) to apply.

In addition, ASU Law provides every admitted student a scholarship and $500 travel reimbursement to visit the law school.

“We offer an elite legal education, but we are an inclusive law school,” Sylvester said. “No matter what’s happening in the world, bright minds and hard workers will always be welcome at ASU Law.”