The Law School Admission Counsel is considering auditing law schools’ reports about student test scores after recent scandals in which institutions inflated the academic credentials of new students. In a written statement, Council President Dan Bernstine stated the organization is “working to determine whether we can set up procedures through which we would be able to confirm school-reported LSAT scores” (those reported annually to the American Bar Association) in a “meaningful way.” In addition to administering the LSAT, the LSAC maintains a central database that also includes each law school applicant’s undergraduate GPA.
The pressures of U.S. News Rankings, and its heavy emphasis on GPAs and LSAT scores, push schools to act like intense college athletics programs. Nervous
students admissions deans and directors across the country can breath easy though, as Bernstine admits that “[u]nfortunately, this is going to take some time.”
The first scandal emerged last February when the Villanova University School of Law acknowledged reporting inaccurate LSAT scores and GPAs to the ABA since at least 2002. Among the ABA-instituted sanctions issued this past August, the Villanova website must now display a copy of its censure on its mainpage (which was now redesigned to be even busier…hey kid don’t look at the news items look at the pretty pictures!). The University of Illinois announced in late September that an internal investigation revealed they had similarly massaged numbers for their incoming classes from 2008 to 2010. ABA action has yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, in order to raise the average GPAs of their students, some law schools are creating special versions of the traditional early admissions program aimed solely at students from their own institution’s undergraduate population. These programs allow students with otherwise immaculate credentials to admission without taking the LSAT. In fact, these programs, such as Michigan’s Wolverine Scholars Program and Minnesota’s Early Admission Option, forbid students from taking it altogether (otherwise other schools might hear of these kids). These programs are permitted by the ABA.