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LSAT experiment continues

BY ALYSSA GUZMAN | MARCH 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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So far, only two eligible University of Iowa students have shown interest in an LSAT-exemption program adopted by the College of Law.

The Kinnick Law Scholars Program will allow UI students who meet certain requirements to gain admission to the law school without taking the Law School Admissions Test.

“The Kinnick Law Scholars Program is designed to encourage the best and brightest UI students to stay at Iowa for law school,” law Dean Gail Agrawal said.

In order to qualify, students must be enrolled at the UI, have a grade-point average of a 3.5 or higher through their junior years, or be in the top 10 percent of their class as well as score in the top 85th percentile of the ACT, SAT, GMAT, or GRE.

Because of the rigor of other imposed standards to meet the requirements, officials said they are not worried that it will take away from the quality of students being admitted into law school. 

“With the criteria that are applied to it in terms of having successfully completed the number of comparable standardized tests, and with the class rank and things of that nature, I don’t think it’s going to lead to any decline in the quality of students admitted to the law school,” said Regent Robert Downer, also a lawyer in Iowa City. 

Though this program is new to the UI, it has been in effect at other law schools across the country, which is something schools can apply for as long as they meet certain standards. 

“Although Iowa law did not previously seek a variance from the LSAT, we decided to make this opportunity available to the small number of UI students who, for any number of reasons, have not taken the LSAT and hope to attend law school at Iowa,” Agrawal said. 

Until August 2014, the standards enforced by the American Bar Association ensured that law schools required students to take admissions tests, such as the LSAT.  

According to a bar-association spokesman, who spoke to The Daily Iowan anonymously, schools are now allowed to contact the association and ask for permission to have a variance for students not taking the LSAT. 

“This variance allowed some law schools to rely on a combination of high scores on a standardized test other than the LSAT and academic performance to satisfy the ‘valid and reliable admission test’ requirement,” Agrawal said. 

The bar association concluded that high scores on other standardized tests, paired with outstanding academic achievement, are adequate predictors of success in law school, just as the LSAT is. 

Drake University has adopted this variance as well.

“We have adopted the ABA rule and are actively admitting students who qualify,” said Benjamin Ullem, the dean of Drake Law School. “A student that has demonstrated past performances can eliminate the cost of and the need to take the LSAT,” which costs $170. 

Applicants who meet the standards and apply to law school are not guaranteed admission, and to Agrawal’s knowledge, no students have enrolled thus far under the new initiative. 

There have been two inquiries from potentially eligible UI students. 

“Ultimately, I believe this program could help UI keep some of Iowa’s most high-achieving students at Iowa to study law,” Agrawal said.


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