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Author Topic: AA and the LSAT  (Read 7900 times)

SamE397

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AA and the LSAT
« on: January 22, 2009, 09:52:56 PM »
The only thing that really bugs me about AA is that it more or less proves the LSAT is a load of bull. I believe it was Arizona State did a study about the correlation between LSAT and performance; it was .4 which means that only 16% of the variability of student performance can be explained by the LSAT.  The pre-70's system where schools had relatively lower admissions standards and much higher attrition rates makes a lot more logical sense to me. Granted I realize that schools don't want to add on to an already stressful environment and the LSAT while highly flawed is the best predictor we have but it does make me mad none the less.

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2009, 10:13:21 PM »
So you'd prefer if more people failed out of more law schools?
I'mma stay bumpin' till I bump my head on my tomb.

SamE397

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2009, 12:06:58 PM »
So you'd prefer if more people failed out of more law schools?
No not necessarily, I won't lie though as someone who lives in michigan and couldn't possibly get into  UofM as a 1L, if I could get in but only have a 50/50 chance of graduating I'd be tempted. I realize that high attrition rates cause a lot of stress/competition and that people are wary of going into a system where they have a reasononable chance of failure. 

My beef is that the LSAT creates a somewhat artificial barrier for getting into law school. To go back to my points on AA I've known of black guys who could get into W&M with a 148 LSAT, I'm sure the admissions council at W&M didn't expect them to be a miserable failure. They just realized that the LSAT really doesn't tell that much about a candidates ability to perform in law school and they were willing to look past it because of other factors one of which being integration which is a noble goal.

A lot of fourth tier schools get bagged on for having high attrition but from my perspective it seems like it makes a little more sense to lower admissions standards by two to five points and have a higher attrition rate. This was what schools did in the past and if it weren't for US News and World Report they'd probably still be doing some variation of it though probably not as strict of one.   


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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2009, 07:20:35 PM »
Would you also favor eliminating the bar exam or a JD as an artificial barrier for practicing law?  Could we simply let anyone practice law and succeed or fail on their own merits?

I'm not meaning to be confrontational because I think your argument has some merit.  Just wondering where you'd draw the line.

LawDog3

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2009, 04:21:26 AM »
I will say it again. The LSAT is a very poor predictor of law school performance, and the LSAC admits that. GPA is an even worse predictor. The two together are "the best available predictor" of first-year law performance, and even that isn't accurrate. And first-year law performance is a lousy predictor of job performance, as it turns out.

Now, what is the goal of a law school? To turn out practice-ready lawyers, correct? Why rely so heavily on an exam that does little to serve that end? It make no sense logically. This coming from one of the few Blacks who did well on the exam.

And I agree wholeheartedly with the proposition that AA or anything resembling it turns the merits of the use of the LSAT on their ear. After all, a substantial number of so-called "'underqualified' Black students" should be flunking out of top schools every year, according to that nut, Sanders, down at UCLA. Why isn't that happening? Why do so many Black, top-law grads go on to become top attorneys?

Yes, many Black BigLaw recruits DO leave BigLaw in droves within their first few years, but that is not necessarily a reflection of ability, but, rather, a survival technique. Black lawyers refuse to play the office politics that BigLaw presents. They move on to work as consultants, go to boutiques, go into business, work for the government or go into alternative fields of law. Some even leave the country.

Or is there a "conspiracy" (tongue in cheek, eyes rolled) to give good grades to those students once they're admitted, so as to save face for the school? I guess that's what got Barack Obama, Kim Keenan, (actor) Hill Harper, Star Jones, Christopher Darden, Johnny Cocheran and a lot of others over...the conspiracy.

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2009, 12:39:16 PM »
The two together are "the best available predictor" of first-year law performance, and even that isn't accurate.

What currently available predictor should LSAT/GPA be replaced with? 

Also, why exactly does AA turn the LSAT/GPA concept on its ear?  I would assume (though I'm not certain) that among AA admits, the students who benefit from it are still among the highest LSAT/GPAs of their particular demographic, so its not like LSAT/GPA is irrelevant for URMs.  The fact that these students do comparable to non-URMs once in school or in the job market (I'm assuming they do) makes better evidence that the test is racially skewed than that it's ineffective.

LawDog3

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2009, 02:35:44 PM »
The two together are "the best available predictor" of first-year law performance, and even that isn't accurate.

What currently available predictor should LSAT/GPA be replaced with? 

Also, why exactly does AA turn the LSAT/GPA concept on its ear?  I would assume (though I'm not certain) that among AA admits, the students who benefit from it are still among the highest LSAT/GPAs of their particular demographic, so its not like LSAT/GPA is irrelevant for URMs.  The fact that these students do comparable to non-URMs once in school or in the job market (I'm assuming they do) makes better evidence that the test is racially skewed than that it's ineffective.

As for the first question? If I could answer that, i'd be a multimillionaire. lol. I like the LSAT; it's a useful tool. I think it just needs to be improved, lengthened (yes, I said it) to include measurements for personality traits that attempt to predict abtual law success. Berkeley is experimenting with the creation of such an exam right now, and they say it may actually replace the LSAT.

The test would measure such intangibles as team play, empathy, long-term time-management, task management, managerial skills, overall...and a host of things the LSAT cannot touch. I say keep the LSAT, but add some other things to it. Make it a two-day exam, like the BAR. Clearly the LSAT gets it wrong often enough to warrant the exploration of such an idea. And the powers that be at Berkeley agree with me. 

GPA's obviously have to be considered, but, we need a uniformed system of "Strength of Major" measurement across undergraduate schools and colleges (one adcoms can refer to when making admissions decisions), similar to "Strength of Schedule" measurements in sports. Right now, adcoms attempt to assess the majors at different schools, but it's not a uniformed measurement, even within individual law schools. We accept those, right? Not all majors are equal between two given schools. Can we come up with a uniform system of measurement based on course curricula, faculty prestige, and other measurements used to rank universities and programs?

As for question two, I think you answered it. That's good (no patronization, here). I mean, the scores are treated that way by admissions committees at the top schools. Not only are URM's compared with the general applicant pool, they are compared with other URM's...and the one's who come out favorably in both cases are the likely admits. And that's what AA is really about.

But I do not see it as AA because, though many people struggle to understand how, a student with lower numbers can still be "more qualified" for the practice of law than a 3.9/170 student. That is the basis for the Berkeley study. And those intangible metrics I suggested in the first paragraph above for the new LSAT are the same things adcoms are trying to intuitively assess when they look at files.

So the adcoms get it, it's the white and Asian applicants who oppose AA and the conservatives who don't.  Adcoms are not just trying to admit URM's, they are trying to admit the most qualified URM's. Top law school URM's tend to do well in school and in their careers. That weakens the idea that adcoms have no business admitting URM's (or any students, for that matter) who have lower "objective predictors".  

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2009, 03:31:55 PM »
The test would measure such intangibles as team play, empathy, long-term time-management, task management, managerial skills, overall...and a host of things the LSAT cannot touch.

Not sure how helpful this would be because there are so many niche areas of law that one could enter which may or may not require, for instance, team play or empathy.  Should the admission of a PI attorney, a community organizer, and a biglaw litigator be based on the same assessment of personality traits?

Quote
Top law school URM's tend to do well in school and in their careers. That weakens the idea that adcoms have no business admitting URM's (or any students, for that matter) who have lower "objective predictors".   

This seems to be more of a pro-AA argument than an anti-LSAT argument.  I don't see how your info, assuming it is correct, necessarily discredits the LSAT as a predictor (or at least as the best one available) if adcoms can simply adjust for demographic factors and admit URMs who "tend to do well in school and in their careers."

LawDog3

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2009, 04:39:35 AM »
The test would measure such intangibles as team play, empathy, long-term time-management, task management, managerial skills, overall...and a host of things the LSAT cannot touch.

Not sure how helpful this would be because there are so many niche areas of law that one could enter which may or may not require, for instance, team play or empathy.  Should the admission of a PI attorney, a community organizer, and a biglaw litigator be based on the same assessment of personality traits?

Quote
Top law school URM's tend to do well in school and in their careers. That weakens the idea that adcoms have no business admitting URM's (or any students, for that matter) who have lower "objective predictors".   

This seems to be more of a pro-AA argument than an anti-LSAT argument.  I don't see how your info, assuming it is correct, necessarily discredits the LSAT as a predictor (or at least as the best one available) if adcoms can simply adjust for demographic factors and admit URMs who "tend to do well in school and in their careers."

You're correct about my feelings about the LSAT. I am not against it. And, combined with GPA, it is purported to be the best available predictor; the LSAT alone is not a very good predictor. I believe it needs fine-tuning. It's scope is limited. It measures some useful skills needed for law schools and career success, but it should do more than that.

The bigger question for me, and I say this frequently, is how we define "merit". Many people define merit by objective factors, which, are not unimportant, but do not capture all of the ways merit can be assessed.

Try reading this article and you'll see what I am getting at.

http://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/LSACREPORTfinal-12.pdf
 

LawDog3

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Re: AA and the LSAT
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2009, 12:39:11 AM »
The two together are "the best available predictor" of first-year law performance, and even that isn't accurate.

What currently available predictor should LSAT/GPA be replaced with? 

Also, why exactly does AA turn the LSAT/GPA concept on its ear?  I would assume (though I'm not certain) that among AA admits, the students who benefit from it are still among the highest LSAT/GPAs of their particular demographic, so its not like LSAT/GPA is irrelevant for URMs.  The fact that these students do comparable to non-URMs once in school or in the job market (I'm assuming they do) makes better evidence that the test is racially skewed than that it's ineffective.

Actually, they don't do as well - at least in school. There is a relatively recent study from the University of Michigan that examines this very issue. It focused on AA students at Michigan Law. It found that that white students do get better law school grades, yet there is no measurable difference between the performance/success of AA students and white students post-graduation.

I don't want to, and frankly cannot, argue about what this study really means. I also don't bring it up to nitpick. I just think it's pretty interesting. Malcolm Gladwell has a compelling interpretation in his book, Outliers.

Let's use some LR here. First, a study aimed at LSAT and first-year law performance would be unrepresentative, if done at a small number of schools, or, worse, a single school.

Secondly, the correlation you cite may be the result of self-fulfilling prophecy.

African American and Latino students, for example, are automatically stigmatized upon entry to top law and medical programs. White, Asian and Arab peers view them with suspicion or dismiss them outright as unworthy, which results in marginalization and exclusion from study groups, access to some resources and an overall feeling of separation. This is deleterious for relations between African-American and Latino students with High GPA's and test scores and white students, as well as the lower numbered ethnic students and the rest of the student body. Imagine having to sit in class as your peers looked at you wondering HOW you managed to gain admission.

"Are you one of those 'AA admits' who, in my opinion, 'really shouldn't be here'?" Or are you one of those rare Blacks who "get's it": really does have super high grades and did very well on the LSAT, speaks like we do, walks, acts, dresses, and behaves like I want Blacks to? I don't mind you getting in if you're like that. But my friend applied. He/she didn't get in, and YOU got his/her seat. You probably weren't as qualified; I don't like that. After I graduate, I'm going to work in admissions, so I can prevent this from happening."

Imagine one of your profs wondering the same things, or worse, having voted against your admission, only to see you sitting in their class, or that of a close colleague the following Autumn. Now imagine that you attend school knowing people are silently questioning your qualifications and those of others like you, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, short of getting straight A's - which only 5% of the class will do, regardless of background.   

But you raise an important point here. A law school's mission is to turn out good lawyers, not good first year law students. Why use an exam that does NOT serve that purpose? That's what the Berkeley study is trying to fix.

There are also studies showing Blacks leaving BigLaw at a higher clip than do White associates. This, too, is likely the result of self-sulfilling prophecy, where White partners and senior associates, tend to feel more comfortable with those who look like them (read: White males), thus, supply them with access to more resources and materials, groom and coach them meticulously, give them meaty assignments, spend more time with them, teach them the tricks of the trade, grade them less harshly on performance, and nominate them for increases in responsibility, and awards. The fact that those Black associates who leave BigLaw within just a few years tend to do so voluntarily - contrary to the popular belief that the attrition is the fruit of affirmative action collapsing - is very telling.