LSAC to verify LSAT medians

The agreement that the LSAC and American Bar Association reached last month to have the LSAC verify LSAT scores is another step in the right direction towards greater transparency in the application process for prospective law students.

“What has improved substantially, is the amount of disclosure and accountability,” said Kyle McEntee, executive director and co-founder of Law School Transparency.

Law schools have been under fire to open up their books and provide more disclosure to incoming students. Almost weekly, new reports and opinions are released lambasting the high cost of law school tuition in the face of disheartening employment prospects.

“I think the media tension on the poor ethical practices of law school is impacting the way people perceive law school and perceive the value of a degree,” McEntee said. “I think it’s going to be an important driver of the cost of education and making it go down.”

Justifying the scrutiny, Villanova University School of Law and the University of Illinois College of Law revealed in the last two years that they misrepresented student entry credentials to the ABA and to U.S. News & World Report.

At the time of the Illinois controversy, LSAC said it had no role in confirming the accuracy of LSAT scores, and that it would be cost prohibitive to do so.
But the non-profit organization that oversees administration of the LSAT worked out a deal with the ABA on June 15th. Under the new agreement, the LSAC will oversee a new process that requires law schools to provide the ABA with the names, grades, and LSAT scores for each new student. Schools can then opt to have the LSAC verify the submissions of those numbers.

Previously, law schools were only required to report the median, the 25th, and 75th percentiles of their incoming student scores.

The new program comes as legal education heightens its transparency on numerous fronts. The ABA now collects more thorough employment data from law schools – reflected in gut-check reports released in the spring that showed only 55 percent of 2011 graduates were fully employed. The ABA also announced that it was considering making the LSAT an optional requirement for law schools.