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Wake Forest Law featured in American Lawyer regarding LSAT v. GRE

Wake Forest School of Law was mentioned in the following article, “LSAT v. GRE: Rhetoric v. Reality,” published originally in The American Lawyer on Feb. 26. Wake Forest Law is in the process of determining whether they should start accepting the GRE from students.

The original story follows.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the University of Arizona College of Law has begun accepting graduate record examinations (GRE) scores in lieu of the law school admission test (LSAT). Two other schools—the University of Hawaii and Wake Forest University—are performing validation studies to determine whether they, too, should make the move to GREs.

At the University of Arizona College of Law, Dean Marc Miller said, “This isn’t an effort to declare war on anybody. This is an effort to fundamentally change legal education and the legal profession.”

To “fundamentally change legal education and the legal profession,” accepting GRE scores instead of LSATs seems like a misfire. Beyond the rhetoric is a reality that might reveal what else could be going on.

The GRE Is Easier

According to Jeff Thomas, executive director of prelaw programs at Kaplan Test Prep, “The GRE is regarded as the easier test. The entirety of the LSAT was meant to mimic the law school experience, while the GRE was not created for that particular purpose.”

But the fact that the GRE is easier doesn’t explain why some law schools want to use it. Self-interest and U.S. News & World Report rankings might.

LSATs Are Telling a Sad Story

As LSAT scores of entering classes have dropped at many schools, so have bar passage rates. According to the University of Arizona law school’s ABA reports, its median LSAT for matriculated students in 2012 was 161. For 2015, it was 160. That’s not much of a decline, but at the 25th percentile, the LSAT score went from 159 to 155.

According to the school’s website, in July 2013, 92 percent of first-time test takers passed the Arizona bar exam. By July 2015, the passage rate fell to 84 percent.

The GRE Isn’t the LSAT

Such trends suggest another possible reason for allowing students to substitute the GRE for the LSAT: It buys law schools time and complicates decision-making by prelaw students. At many schools, year-over-year LSAT score comparisons have documented the willingness of many deans to accept marginal students. The easiest way to stop such time series analysis is to make that test optional.

The GRE will be a new data point. Until schools report those scores for two or three years, it won’t reveal trends in admitted student qualifications. That will deflect attention away from the “declining quality of admitted students” narrative that has become pervasive. Never mind that the narrative is pervasive because, based on LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs for matriculants at many law schools, it’s true. (Between 2012 and 2015, the University of Arizona law school’s undergraduate GPA for matriculants dropped at all three measuring points—the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles, according to its ABA reports for those years.)

The Heavy Hand of U.S. News Rankings

In addition to confusing the story on the declining quality of applicants, law schools have another reason to accept the GRE. Applicants will take both exams and pick the better result for law school consumption. It’s analogous to the current ABA rule allowing schools to use only a student’s’ highest LSAT score.

Prelaw students who do badly on the LSAT will submit their GRE score instead. The ongoing self-selection of poor LSAT scores away from the applicant pool will increase the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile LSAT values for the scores that remain. Until all schools adopt the GRE option, it will boost the U.S. News rankings of the schools that do it.

There’s precedent for such behavior. Most high school students take the SAT and the ACT. Where a college allows either score, students submit the higher one.

Look Beyond the Rhetoric

Trends at the two other schools mentioned in The Wall Street Journal’s article might be relevant to all of this. At the University of Hawaii, compare the 2012 and 2015 ABA forms reporting LSAT scores for matriculants:

75th percentile: 2012 – 160; 2015 – 158

50th percentile: 2012 – 158; 2015 – 154

25th percentile: 2012 – 154; 2015 – 151

Likewise, at Wake Forest, the results are:

75th percentile: 2012 – 165; 2015 – 162

50th percentile: 2012 – 163; 2015 – 161

25th percentile: 2012 – 159; 2015 – 157

At this point, the appropriate legal phrase is res ipsa loquitur—the thing speaks for itself.

The ABA is planning to determine independently whether the GRE meets its accreditation requirement allowing schools to use the LSAT or another “valid and reliable” test when making admissions decisions. The profession’s leading organization is likely to approve the switch. That’s because doing so will perpetuate what has become the ABA’s central mission in legal education: protecting many law schools from scrutiny and meaningful accountability.

That’s about as far as you can get from trying “to fundamentally change legal education and the legal profession.”

Law professors to participate in ‘Studying Race and Human Community’ panels on Tuesday, Feb. 23

Professors Jonathan Cardi, Gregory Parks, Wendy Parker, Luellen Curry, Abigail Perdue, Kami Simmons, Richard Schneider and Wilson Parker will participate in “Studying Race and Human Community: Current Curricula Opportunities in the Humanities” panel discussions. The panels will be held from 7-7:25 p.m. and  7:35-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1310. Students are encouraged to register here if they are interested in attending. Continue reading »

Professor John Korzen

Professor John Korzen quoted in Winston-Salem Journal about annual Wake Forest University Lovefeast

Professor John Korzen (BA ’81, JD ’91) and his wife, Catherine, are quoted in the following story that ran in the Winston-Salem Journal. Read the original story here.

Wake Forest University’s annual Lovefeast took on special meaning Sunday, as speakers took note of recent tragic events, including last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead, and the terrorist attack in Paris last month that killed at least 130 people.Timothy L. Auman, the university’s chaplain, said that such events can lead people to hopelessness. But Auman reminded those gathered at the 51st annual Lovefeast that there is always light. Continue reading »

The White House and Wake Forest co-host summit ‘Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color’ on Friday, Nov. 13

The White House Council on Women and Girls and the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University will co-host a daylong summit on Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, at the White House South Court Auditorium. The event will be live-streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live. You can also follow the conversation at #YesSheCan.

Continue reading »

Winston-Salem Journal reports on opening of Smith Anderson Office of Community Outreach

The following story ran in the Nov. 8, 2015, Winston-Salem Journal here: Wake Forest University School of Law has opened the Smith Anderson Office of Community Outreach within the Worrell Professional Center. Continue reading »

KnowYourRightsteam2015

Pro Bono Project presents ‘Know Your Rights’ with WFU athletics on Monday, Nov. 2

The Pro Bono Project is collaborating with Wake Forest University (WFU) athletics to present its new program, “Know Your Rights,” as part of this year’s National Pro Bono Week activities to WFU student athletes. The event will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2 in the Rovere Room in the Miller Center. This specific presentation of the program is designed specifically for student athletes. Continue reading »

Wake Forest Law hosts ‘Lawyers Without Rights’ exhibit through Friday, Oct. 30

Beginning Monday, Oct. 5, the highly acclaimed international exhibit, “Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,” portraying persecution of Jewish lawyers and judges during Nazi era, is available for viewing through Friday, Oct. 30, in the Wake Forest Law Library Rotunda in Worrell Professional Center on the Reynolda Campus. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Times for the exhibit include: Monday – Thursday: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
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Professor Tim Davis

Wake Forest Law professor, third-year law student featured speakers at 2015 Hooding Ceremony on Sunday, May 17

The Class of 2015 has spoken and has chosen Professor Timothy Davis and Kenny Cushing (JD ’15) to be the speakers for the Wake Forest University School of Law Hooding Ceremony on Sunday, May 17. Continue reading »

Wake Forest University to host Idlewild Conference on Friday, Feb. 27

Wake Forest University will host the “Idlewild Conference” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, in the Annenberg Forum in Carswell Hall. The event is a day-long series of conversations on race, gender, religion and capitalism in the U.S. South. Continue reading »

‘Ferguson: Discussion on Race, Justice and Hope for the Future’

Forum on Ferguson brings university community together

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. –  Wake Forest University School of Divinity hosted a forum and panel discussion on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, about recent events in Ferguson, Mo. The forum was inspired by a need to bring, conversation, connection, and understanding across the Wake Forest student body and wider campus community.

“Ferguson: A Discussion on Race, Justice, and Hope for the Future” included Gail R. O’Day, dean of the School of Divinity and professor of New Testament and Preaching; Derek S. Hicks, assistant professor of religion and society at the School of Divinity; Kami Chavis Simmons, professor of law and director of School of Law’s criminal justice program; and Darryl Aaron, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem. With standing room only, students, faculty, and staff from across the university were in attendance. Continue reading »