The American Bar Association(ABA) requirement that law schools use the LSAT test for admissions is having “a devastating effect on African-American applicants,” a noted law school authority says.
“The ABA uniformly denies accreditation to law schools with average LSAT scores below 143, yet the average LSAT score for African-Americans is 142,” writes Michael Coyne, associate dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.
“Since many ABA law schools employ inflexible LSAT ‘cut-off’ scores, individuals with superior grades are rejected out of hand. Despite this, the ABA has never accredited a law school that uses an alternative test,” Coyne wrote in an article, “End the ABA’s Tyranny,” published in The National Law Journal.
Coyne said ABA law school accreditation policies begun in the 1970s have “begot skyrocketing tuition and fees greatly exceeding the cost of inflation in the decades that followed.”
Law school tuition has risen at a far greater rate than college tuitions. While tuition, room and board at undergraduate institutions increased by 58% in the 1990s, law school tuition jumped by 88%, Coyne wrote.
“No student can finance the cost of law school from his or her earnings at work alone. The escalation of the cost of attending law school disproportionately affects people of color and those from the less affluent segments of society,” Coyne continued.
He noted that in 2002, then-president of the ABA, William Paul, decried the alarming lack of “minority representation in the legal profession.” The 2000 U.S. Census put this figure at 9.7%.
“The key to an accessible high quality education is not more loans or state subsidies to feed the gaping maw of ever-higher tuitions,” Coyne believes. Rather, “schools must take steps to be more productive and reduce costs” and “Federally recognized accrediting agencies must encourage those efforts.”
Coyne goes on to say, “The ABA has misused the absolute power granted it by our government and has beguiled state supreme courts to accept its dictates in determining who can sit for the bar examination. This abusive and destructive accreditation tyranny has blockaded both minorities and the affordable law schools that serve them.”
“By design or indifference, the ABA’s policies regarding law school accreditation disproportionately impact people of color and the less affluent,” Coyne states. He concludes with the observation that the Department of Justice “cannot continue to tacitly condone that discrimination” and that the Department of Education “must terminate recognition of the ABA as the only federally approved national accreditor of law schools. The Department of Justice must act to ensure justice for all, not just the white and the wealthy.”
(To reach Dean Coyne email him at Coyne@mslaw.edu. This information from ROSS ASSOCIATES, Suite 403, 102 S.W. 6th Avenue, Miami, FL 33130. Ross Associates is a public relations consulting firm that performs media relations work for the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.)