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  • September 7, 2022

The dreaded test to get into a law school—also known as the LSAT—has recently been making headlines. This challenging exam, which many students spend nearly 150-300 hours studying for, has historically been the key to a future in the legal field. The push to get rid of the admissions exam was proposed by an American Bar Association committee member who suggested requiring prospective law students to complete a “valid and reliable test” in the application process.

Why Did Saying Goodbye to the LSAT Arise?

The recommendation for a new entrance requirement arose from the belief that the law school admissions test hurts minority applicants. In other words, reliance on LSAT admissions scores reinforces existing inequalities among lower-income and minority students. Additionally, when awarding merit scholarships depends on LSAT scores, students who would otherwise qualify but have lower scorer, and will become saddled with substantial educational debt. According to the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions, this discrimination represents an unfair barrier to entry for anyone who desires a legal career.

The Bar Exam

However, Illinois and Wisconsin do differ in how lawyers may be admitted to the practice of law. In Illinois, no one can practice law without passing the bar examination, keeping the supply of lawyers lower.

In Wisconsin, under diploma privilege, graduates of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Marquette University Law School are admitted to the practice if they comply with the terms required by the state regarding their legal competence and their character and fitness exam. However, graduates of other law schools must take the Wisconsin Bar Exam.

Additionally, some jurisdictions even require lawyers licensed in another state to complete an additional test if they want to practice law in a new area. Or at least provide the results of the Bar Exam in the others states they may be licensed.

The American Bar Association admits that bar examination passing rates for minorities continue to lag. A 2021 study found that a high percentage of non-white students at various law schools correlated with a reduced bar passage rate. As of right now, the Bar Exam continues to be the final threshold to entering the realm of practicing law for most of the country.

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