(Updated April 30, 2016)
When the University of Arizona College of Law announced the decision to allow any candidate to apply to the JD program with either a GRE score or an LSAT score, the news spread quickly.
Below, review a few of the headlines.
Wall Street Journal
Arizona Law Faces Fight Over LSAT Policy (Subscription required)
A top-tier law school’s decision to make the Law School Admission Test optional has put it on a collision course with the powerful national nonprofit group that administers the exam and controls much of the law-school application process nationwide.
LSAC’s general counsel in April notified Arizona Law that the school’s new policy may violate its bylaws, which require that “substantially all of” a law school’s applicants take the LSAT.
The group is considering expelling Arizona Law from its membership, which would effectively cut off the school’s access to a crucial student admissions pipeline.
Arizona Law disputes that it is out of compliance. This admission cycle, it said, it admitted only three students who took the GRE instead of the LSAT—among a combined pool of more than 1,300 applicants—but expects the GRE-only number to grow sharply in the years ahead.
The school said it sent a letter back to the organization Friday that also warned of potential legal risks.
“We believe that your proposed action unreasonably restrains competition in the law school admissions testing market,” said Arizona Law’s dean, Marc Miller, in the letter, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Wall Street Journal
LSAT’s Grip on Law-School Admissions Loosens (Subscription required)
"This isn't an effort to declare war on anybody," said Marc Miller, the dean of Arizona Law in Tucson. "This is an effort to fundamentally change legal education and the legal profession."
Mr. Miller said using the GRE will diversify the law school pipeline by capturing those with broader interests and backgrounds, including students interested in joint degrees. At least five times more people took the GRE in the last admissions cycle than the LSAT.
Wake Forest Law Dean Suzanne Reynolds said the only reason she thinks the GRE hasn't taken off sooner is that the legal industry's reliance on precedent.
National Law Journal
Arizona College of Law Will Accept GRE Instead of LSAT
Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen predicted that other law schools will follow Arizona’s lead if the school is able to bring in a larger—and stronger—applicant pool as a result of accepting the alternative test.
“I think this will potentially be a major change in legal education,” Yellen said. “If Arizona is successful using a different test, there will be a lot of pressure on other schools to move in that direction.”
Dean Marc Miller acknowledged the GRE and LSAT are two very different tests. However he stands behind the move because the school’s grading standards haven’t changed.
"Has the downturn led us to think about the different ways we can broaden the base? Absolutely," said Miller. "We don’t view this as a bad thing.”
Arizona Public Media
At UA Law School, Students Can Skip LSAT, Take GRE Instead
Dean Marc Miller said the move will open law school admissions up to many people who may never considered the legal profession before. In recent years, about 100,000 people have taken the LSAT, compared to more than half a million that take the GRE, said Miller.
"How many of them will be interested in law, I don’t know," he said. "But we have now opened a door where we can talk to them, and they can talk to us."
The goal, he said, is to make the College of Law more diverse, both in terms of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and intellectual interests.
Law School Café
LSAT or GRE?
Weak markets should prompt innovation. Arizona has taken a number of other steps to make legal education more accessible and attractive to students: It slashed tuition (twice) for nonresidents and created a BA program in law.
The mental abilities tested on the LSAT certainly contribute to lawyerly thinking. Reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning (as tested on the LSAT) are skills that all lawyers use. But so are the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning tested on the GRE. I’ve often thought, in fact, that law students would benefit from stronger skills in quantitative reasoning. If we test for those skills, we will find more of them in our classrooms.
The GRE gives applicants much more flexibility. A student who takes the GRE can apply to graduate programs in history, philosophy, biochemistry, business, computer science, and (at the University of Arizona) law. A classmate who takes the LSAT has just one option: law.
Unless we can show that law school truly is in a class by itself–different in kind from the large number of challenging graduate programs that rely upon the GRE–why not let students take a single test?
Arizona law school becomes first to accept applications with GRE test
“The goal of all admission efforts is to identify who will do well in law school,” said Robert K. Rasmussen, a professor at USC School of Law who served as dean until 2015. "If the GRE is a tool that works as least as well as the LSAT, there is no reason not to use it.”