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Study Offers a New Test of Potential Lawyers
New York Times ^ | March 10, 2009 | Jonathan D. Glater

Posted on 03/11/2009 6:41:22 AM PDT by reaganaut1

Just what makes a good lawyer?

In trying to answer that question, professors at the University of California, Berkeley, have come up with a test that they say is better at predicting success in the field than the widely used Law School Admission Test.

The LSAT, as the half-day exam is known, does not claim to predict much beyond a student’s performance in law school. But critics contend that it does not evaluate how good a lawyer someone will be and tests for the wrong things. They also say it keeps many black and Hispanic students — who tend to have lower scores — out of the legal profession.

Marjorie M. Shultz, a law professor who retired last year from Berkeley and is one of the study’s authors, said she began to examine the issue after California voters approved Proposition 209, which banned consideration of race in admissions.

“Proposition 209 and the reduced numbers of minority admits prompted me to think hard about what constitutes merit for purposes of law school admission, and to decide LSAT was much too narrow, as well as having big adverse impact,” Professor Shultz said.

The Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT, helped finance Professor Shultz’s research, which has not appeared in any scholarly journals. Nonetheless, Wendy Margolis, a council spokeswoman, defended the LSAT, saying that how a student does in law school “has a great deal to do with ultimate success as a lawyer.”

Ms. Margolis added, “We think it would be difficult to predict success as a lawyer prior to law school.”

But that is exactly what Professor Shultz and Prof. Sheldon Zedeck, a colleague in the university’s psychology department, wanted to do.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: admissions; lawschool; lawyers; lsat
Standardized tests that don't produce the same average scores for all racial groups are going to come increasingly under attack. If medical schools water down admissions standards, the consequences will be deadly.
1 posted on 03/11/2009 6:41:22 AM PDT by reaganaut1
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To: reaganaut1

“Please close your eyes, tilt your head back and touch the end of your nose with your index finger”


2 posted on 03/11/2009 6:42:57 AM PDT by mgc1122
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To: reaganaut1

My kid sister wants to be a lawyer. Bright, homeschooled...it pains me to think we’ll have to put her in college to realize her dream. I hate the thought of her attending some liberal snakepit where her conservative views will not be respected.


3 posted on 03/11/2009 6:48:37 AM PDT by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (American Revolution II -- overdue.)
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To: reaganaut1

This is absolute BS. There is a very strong correlation between LSAT scores and success as a lawyer. Ask any Wall Street law firm and they will tell you that it is a strong predicter of success.


4 posted on 03/11/2009 6:54:26 AM PDT by Timocrat
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To: reaganaut1
The ability to compartmentalize integrity, ethics, honesty and lie while your lips are moving would be good indicators as well, although I am not sure how you would incorporate them into the LSAT.
5 posted on 03/11/2009 7:02:08 AM PDT by Apercu ("A man's character is his fate" - Heraclitus)
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To: reaganaut1
But critics contend that it does not evaluate how good a lawyer someone will be and tests for the wrong things. They also say it keeps many black and Hispanic students — who tend to have lower scores — out of the legal profession.

I say these are all moot points or moot arguments.

If a students wants to spend some 6 or 8 or 10 years in learning to be an attorney, then let them. If they can't cut it during their time in school, then they'll drop out. If they make it through school, then the real world after school will be the ultimate test.

If they can't make it in the real world and in the court system, then they will have wasted some 10 years time and hundreds of thousands of dollars for nothing. There are huge penalties to be paid for incompetence and anybody that thinks that they'll make it despite their incompetence will be in for a huge shock when they find themselves without a job and having to start over again at middle age.
6 posted on 03/11/2009 7:05:04 AM PDT by adorno (<br><br>)
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To: reaganaut1

The majority of day-to-day lawyering as practiced on behalf of average private individuals involves thorough knowledge of a set of rules, attention to detail, and the ability to follow through. When picking a lawyer for almost all the things I need done I’m not primarily interested in intellectual brilliance or creative thinking, I’m a lot more concerned about whether the paperwork will be accurately prepared, carefully reviewed, and filed on time. It’s a job for a highly-organized, bright-average individual temperamentally attracted to highly repetitive work, and more intelligent and more creative individuals are likely to be frustrated by it, and often in their frustration start to perform at a level well below their “ability”.

For this reason it’s often seemed to me that there really ought to be several legal career paths: one for this kind of practice, one for criminal litigation, one for more complicated commercial law, and so on.

And I’ve little doubt that you could create standards to evaluate aspirants to each that would do a better job of predicting success than the LSAT.


7 posted on 03/11/2009 7:09:15 AM PDT by M. Dodge Thomas
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To: 668 - Neighbor of the Beast
Adversity breeds character. She'll learn to hone her arguments and clearly her thoughts. It is good preparation for the real world.
8 posted on 03/11/2009 7:12:55 AM PDT by thefrankbaum (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam)
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To: reaganaut1
What we should do is break out of the monopoly the ABA has on law education in this country. For a lot of our history, there was a path called “reading the law” - this is the path Lincoln followed. You essentially were an apprentice to a lawyer for a specific number of years, and then you took the bar exam. If you passed, you were a lawyer. Otherwise, you had to try again. Now, you are required to mortgage your life in order to pursue a law degree, limiting the potential pool of applicants, much more than the LSAT.
9 posted on 03/11/2009 7:15:57 AM PDT by thefrankbaum (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam)
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To: reaganaut1
Instead of focusing on analytic ability, the new test includes questions about how to respond to hypothetical situations. For example, it might describe a company with a policy requiring immediate firing of any employee who lied on an application, then ask what a test taker would do upon discovering that a top-performing employee had omitted something on an application.

THIS is the best example of a rigorous question the promoters of this new test would use compared to the LSAT? What a joke.

And they claim this new "test" correlates well with "success" as a lawyer, but the article omits to describe what it is these Berkeley professors consider to be "success" in a lawyer. Working for the ACLU or ACORN?

I strongly suspect the questions they ask, putting aside the ridiculous example given in the article, have a significant political component, and that more minorities (undoubtedly to these Berkely professors meaning blacks and hispanics, but specifically NOT asians) give doctrinaire liberal answers to the political questions than whites and hispanics, pulling their scores up.

10 posted on 03/11/2009 7:15:57 AM PDT by SirJohnBarleycorn
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To: reaganaut1

The Democrats are planning to do to law schools what they have done for the black family.


11 posted on 03/11/2009 7:17:47 AM PDT by Melchior
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

meant to say “whites and asians” not “whites and hispanics” in my last sentence.


12 posted on 03/11/2009 7:18:56 AM PDT by SirJohnBarleycorn
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To: reaganaut1

The only real problem this guy has with the LSAT is the fact that blacks and some hispanic groups do poorly on it. The rest of his arguments are simply drivel conjured up after the fact.


13 posted on 03/11/2009 7:25:49 AM PDT by LuxAerterna
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To: 668 - Neighbor of the Beast

It’s probably better that she be exposed to that, because otherwise she will not be prepared for dealing with adversaries in the professional world (both opposing counsel and the political game of inside one’s own firm). Many people are going to think differently than her, sometimes on an institutional level.


14 posted on 03/11/2009 7:31:08 AM PDT by Unlikely Hero ("Time is a wonderful teacher; unfortunately, it kills all its pupils." --Berlioz)
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To: reaganaut1
Guess the new test would include the following questions:

1. Can you parse the word 'is'?

2. Can you bill the time you spend dreaming about the case?

3. When you come upon a mult-car accident with major injuries, do you first call 911 or hand out business cards?

15 posted on 03/11/2009 7:31:35 AM PDT by Lockbox
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To: Timocrat
not necessarily.

higher LSAT score means better law schools which means better teachers, brighter peers, higher prestige, better offers down the road, better firms, more support/resouces.

i.e.: better lawyer.

not in all cases, of course. but it does help overall.

16 posted on 03/11/2009 7:36:57 AM PDT by thefactor (yes, as a matter of fact, i DID only read the excerpt)
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To: thefrankbaum
Now, you are required to mortgage your life in order to pursue a law degree, limiting the potential pool of applicants, much more than the LSAT.

Are you implying that we have a shortage of lawyers?

17 posted on 03/11/2009 7:39:56 AM PDT by dfwgator (1996 2006 2008 - Good Things Come in Threes)
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To: LuxAerterna
The only real problem this guy has with the LSAT is the fact that blacks and some hispanic groups do poorly on it....
Right, this ‘Study’ is merely a solution in search of a problem. I don't think anybody should be surprised that it is possible to conjure up a ersatz affirmative action plan at Berkeley.
The LSAT at least makes an attempt at being objective. A test with the stated goal of producing a given outcome cannot, on its face, be considered objective. It is as phony as a game of Three Card Monty.
18 posted on 03/11/2009 7:51:03 AM PDT by Old North State
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To: reaganaut1

So the test keeps people with lower scores out of the legal profession. In other words, those who don’t know what they’re doing don’t succeed? OH MY GOD! We clearly must change that!!


19 posted on 03/11/2009 7:52:55 AM PDT by Oldpuppymax (AGENDA OF THE LEFT EXPOSED)
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To: M. Dodge Thomas
For this reason it’s often seemed to me that there really ought to be several legal career paths: one for this kind of practice, one for criminal litigation, one for more complicated commercial law, and so on.

There really are. These and more.

20 posted on 03/11/2009 7:55:35 AM PDT by John Valentine
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To: dfwgator
Kind of. Economically speaking. There are large barriers to entry to become a lawyer; you must (in almost every state) earn a JD from an accredited institution before you are allowed to sit for the bar exam. In order to receive that degree, you are required to spend anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000 and 3 to 4 years of your life. To pay those funds back, you, as a lawyer, need to charge exorbitant fees. In order to make those fees feasible, legislatures (full of lawyers) have created the barriers to new entrants into the field. This has the same effect as a price floor, as the demand for lawyers outstrips the supply, thus justifying huge fees.

Now, opening the bar to a much wider pool of applicants will increase the supply of lawyers, resulting in a deflationary effect on their fees. Once fees drop AND law school is not the only route to practice law, law schools will close. Between the closure of law schools and the decrease in remuneration for lawyers, the supply will maintain equilibrium, thus resulting in a greater number of lawyers, but at much lower cost.

IMHO, the only reason it seems like there are too many lawyers today is because they have taken over government and vote themselves benefits, by creating new regulatory schemes and opposing tort reforms. These things create demand for lawyers. If we can win the battle against these liberal forces and put a stop to their schemes, the demand will decrease, and we'll end up with BOTH fewer lawyers and cheaper lawyers. Good thing, no?

21 posted on 03/11/2009 8:22:28 AM PDT by thefrankbaum (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam)
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To: Unlikely Hero; thefrankbaum

Thanks for the input. Probably right. Adversity hones skills and character.
Still, I wish there were another way.


22 posted on 03/11/2009 10:02:16 AM PDT by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (American Revolution II -- overdue.)
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To: 668 - Neighbor of the Beast

Maybe talk her into a new field!

Kidding, sort of. :)


23 posted on 03/11/2009 11:15:58 AM PDT by Unlikely Hero ("Time is a wonderful teacher; unfortunately, it kills all its pupils." --Berlioz)
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