In the wake of overseeing a series of innovations that have broadened access to law school, University of Arizona Law Dean Marc Miller has been named the eighth most influential person in legal education by National Jurist magazine.
The magazine cited Arizona Law’s decision to become the first law school in the nation to expand JD admissions to GRE test-takers, saying the move “could shape the future of law school admissions,” as law schools look to adapt to the changing legal market and enrollment trends.
The GRE initiative follows a series of efforts the college has instituted in order to push forward legal education, provide current students with better career options, and attract qualified applicants from nontraditional backgrounds. Those recent innovations include:
- Dramatically reducing nonresident tuition and reducing resident tuition
- Working with the Arizona Supreme Court, the State Bar and our sister Arizona law schools to introduce the February Bar exam option for qualifying 3L students
- Creating the Advanced Admissions path that allows non-U.S. lawyers to earn a JD degree in two years
- Launching post-graduate practice groups staffed by recent graduates who provide pro-bono legal services to Arizona residents
- Establishing the nation’s first undergraduate law degree, in partnership with the College of Social and Behavior Sciences and the School of Government and Public Policy
“I’m honored by this recognition, which really reflects the leadership, support, and involvement of so many members of the Arizona Law community, from our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, to university leaders, the Arizona Board of Regents, and friends in the legal community,” said Miller.
Arizona Law’s decision to accept the GRE in addition to the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) came after a study showed that, for students in Arizona Law’s JD program, performance on the GRE is a valid and reliable predictor of students’ first-term law school grades, and so meets the American Bar Association (ABA)’s Legal Education Standard for use in admissions to law school programs.
Out of all applicants to Arizona Law’s 2016 incoming class, 72—or 5 percent—were GRE students. Out of those applicants, 16 were accepted, and 12 enrolled.
[Related: Meet Some of the Nation’s First GRE Admits to Law School]
“We believe that law schools and the legal profession need a greater number of high-quality applicants with the widest range of life, educational, and professional backgrounds,” Miller told Bloomberg Law last May. “For law school admissions, we continue to analyze applicants using a number of tools … to determine if we think they will do well in law school, pass the bar exam, and succeed in the profession. Now we have an additional and widely available option for one of those tools.”
In a letter to LSAC, the organization that administers the LSAT and processes law school applications nationwide, about 150 deans expressed their support for Arizona Law’s use of the GRE, stating, “Experimentation benefits all of us. We all expect to learn from the University of Arizona’s experiment.”
USC School of Law professor and former dean Robert K. Rasmussen told the Daily Journal, “If the GRE is a tool that works as least as well as the LSAT, there is no reason not to use it.” And Ohio State University law professor Deborah J. Merritt praised the move for its innovation, alongside other steps the college has taken, such as the tuition reduction and bachelor’s degree.
[Related: Arizona Law GRE Admissions Policy Makes Headlines]
Other law schools, including Wake Forest University and University of Hawaii, are also conducting studies to evaluate the use of the GRE for their programs. In response to Arizona Law’s actions, the ABA has said it is analyzing testing data and exploring the option of validating the GRE for all law schools.
“I hope that the GRE would be generalized for all U.S. law schools that want to use it in the shortest possible time,” said Miller in the Bloomberg Law interview. “More generally I think the support [of colleagues at other law schools] indicates that legal education is ready for and enthusiastic about innovation and that people see the value in encouraging a legal education and career to those who may not have previously considered it, but who can be very successful. We live in a time of dramatic change for legal education and the legal profession, and in our view that change will continue and speed up.”
To form the list of influential legal educators, National Jurist sought nominations from law schools before sending a list of 49 finalists to be rated by the dean and one faculty member from every law school.
Miller came to Arizona from Emory Law School as a visitor in 2005, and joined the Arizona faculty as the Ralph W. Bilby Professor in 2006. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and Pomona College. Before joining the academy he clerked for Chief Judge John Godbold of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Montgomery, Alabama, served as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice, and served as special council at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York. His areas of scholarly interest include criminal law and procedure and environmental law. He has written more than 70 articles, edited half a dozen books, including leading casebooks in criminal procedure and sentencing, and co-founded the Federal Sentencing Reporter, the leading journal in the field of sentencing law and policy. He remains one of the 20 most cited criminal law and procedure legal scholars in the United States.
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