Council pauses move to make pre-admissions test optional

Amid strong pushback from law school deans and others, the ABA law school accrediting arm has decided to re-examine a proposed change in student admissions policies that would eliminate the requirement that most law school applicants have an admissions test score.

In February, the ABA House of Delegates (HOD) voted overwhelmingly by voice vote to reject the plan of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to implement the change for students entering law school for the 2026-27 school year. 

About two weeks later, the council voted to move ahead with changes in current standards that would make the requirement of an admissions test optional for law schools.

But at its meeting on May 12, council Chair Joe West said, “We’ve decided for now to consider withdrawing this item from the August (HOD) calendar.” Bill Adams, managing director for accreditation and legal education, later explained in a statement that the council will “pause” the process because it “wants to be sensitive and responsive to the concerns raised by law school deans and other stakeholders.”

In April, about 125 deans from the 196 ABA-approved law schools wrote West suggesting a compromise that would allow a “law school to admit no more than 25% of an entering class without requiring a valid test for admission.” The limit is 10% now.

The Law School Admission Council, which administers the most popular pre-admissions test, the LSAT, has vigorously opposed elimination of the test requirement. 

Adams said the council will now evaluate proposed changes “as it continues to determine what is best for both the law schools and their applicants.”

On May 12, the council also voted to send to the HOD for its August meeting a proposal to raise the distance learning ceiling without special approval from the current limit of a third to a half of the credit hours required for the J.D. degree. 

It also decided to post a revised sanction scheme for law schools for public comment.

The council, an independent arm of the ABA, is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accreditor of the nation’s law schools. 

Under ABA rules and procedures, the HOD can review a proposed change to the standards twice and concur, reject or make recommendations. But final decisions rest with the 21-member council.