By Stephen Joyce, Bloomberg BNA
Two law schools became the latest to announce their admissions departments will no longer require the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and Georgetown Law Center announced on Monday that they will accept the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for students applying for admission in 2018.
Daniel Rodriguez, dean at Northwester Law, said a chief driver was to attract a more diverse group of applicants, particularly those who may have passed on law school to pursue graduate studies in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
He acknowledged “there is an incentive for law schools to be more creative in the recruitment of their potential students” because of a general decline in the applicant pool in the last seven or eight years.
Many law schools “are facing either a decline in admissions standards — the LSAT and the undergraduate [grade point average] — or a decline in the size of their classes, or in some cases a combination of both,” he said, adding that the nation’s top law schools haven’t been “entirely spared from that decline.”
A recent survey from the National Association for Law Placement showed that the number of legal jobs declined in 2016 along with graduating law school class sizes.
Andrew Cornblatt, Georgetown Law’s dean of admissions, said his school is also hoping the move will widen and deepen its applicant pool with students earning undergraduate degrees in STEM, public health, foreign languages and other fields.
Both Cornblatt and Rodriguez said they expected the change to be welcome by large law firms looking for law school graduates with new types of skills.
“I think there are more people there who will understand that what we’re trying to do is to broaden the admissions process without in any way lowering its rigor,” Cornblatt said.
Although enrollment at law schools has dipped nationwide following the recession, Rodriguez and Cornblatt stressed that doing away with the LSAT requirement isn’t merely a gimmick to drum up more applications.
The changes will not mean it’s easier to get into Georgetown, Cornblatt said.
“No one for one second should think this is somehow making it easier to get into Georgetown Law School. Far from it. We are making it more accessible with the same standards we’ve had before,” he said.
Last year, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law became the first law school to accept the GRE as well as the LSAT to admit students. Harvard Law followed shortly after.