UO Law grads excited to hear lower standards will devalue their degrees

Jack Forrest has the report in the Daily Emerald here:

University of Oregon students with a 3.5 GPA upon graduation and an SAT or ACT score in the top 85th percentile will not be required to take the Law School Admissions Test to apply to the UO School of Law.

Currently, 14% of UO law school students are“double ducks,” or UO undergraduate alums, according to Assistant Dean of Admissions Sarah Keiski, who spearheaded the policy change to increase the pipeline of UO undergraduates into the law school.

“It feels great to be in law school in a place you’re comfortable in,” Keiski said. …

“Feels great” is a stretch –  maybe “feels comfortably mediocre”?

In totally unrelated news from the Emerald’s Michael Tobin, the Oregon Bar recently dumbed down its bar exam, under pressure from Oregon law deans, and the pass rate has soared. As his story explains, not all students are excited by the news that their school is devaluing their degrees in an already tough job market.

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19 Responses to UO Law grads excited to hear lower standards will devalue their degrees

  1. Kao Tacoma says:

    Well said! What good is studying and memorizing!?

  2. Rudy Michel says:

    What a quaint discussion. What is happening is well beyond Law. It’s time to stop calling students “students.” They are recruitment targets and revenue sources. Testing and examinations, GPA requirements, and other obstacles to admission are irrational because knowledge is just a form of power. Different groups have different forms and amounts of power. The real goal is to recruit targets in proportion to demographic representations of acknowledged groups–provided, that is, that these targets also yield necessary revenues. The upper bureaucracy is at the center of this work. Just below this is the student support sector that oversees retention of targets and revenue sources. Just below this, and in decline, is the professoriate (it even sounds quaint), rapidly becoming subordinate to the administrative level of the student retention sector. Instructors take on more of the labor of what used to be teaching but is increasingly more like social work/retention.

    Distinct from all this are the mostly separate research institutes and similar entities whose practices of knowledge are still in tact and mostly independent of the student retention sector of the “teaching” or “experiencing” university. Law schools are not typically one of these entities.

  3. Mary says:

    But there’s more…
    One Harvard page states either the LSAT or GRE are accepted.

    Another page states the LSAT is required of all applicants.

    Either way, Harvard requires applicants take a standardized test. The UO will not require a specific group of UO applicants to take a standardized test.

    • uomatters says:

      Where’s the page where you enter whether or not your parents are alumni and how much they’ll donate if you’re accepted?

  4. klick & klack says:

    I think more studies have shown that LSAT is not a reliable predictor of law school success. I’m not sure how this devalues a degree.

  5. Environmental necessity says:

    What is lowering the value of a law degree is that there is a flooded market. Too many lawyers, too little need for lawyers. The impact of removing the LSAT requirement is vanishingly small in comparison. I mean, Harvard Law School no longer requires LSAT scores, hasn’t for a couple of years, and am I to believe that the value of a HLS JD is in free fall?

    • Mary says:

      The Harvard Law School admissions website states: “The LSAT is required of all applicants.”

      • Environmental necessity says:

        Actually it says one can use the GRE or LSAT and that neither is preferred over the other. The LSAT is not required.

  6. Inquiring Minds says:

    Well. . . .as an attorney (UO class of 1992), I think you are WAY over-valuing the test scores as any indicator of either financial success or skills and abilities to practice law. All it means is you can study and memorize for a standardized test.
    There is a national movement away from grad programs requiring LSAT or GRE because it is not a great indicator and is proven to put a heavy thumb in favor of certain demographics.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Well. . . .I think you may have put your thumb on what it’s really about. . . .

  7. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    85th percentile on SAT/ACT is not even that high. The UO law achool seems to be makibg itself into an embarassment, as well as a money sink.

    I can’t wait for OHSU to make the MCAT optional.

  8. Bob Smith says:

    Also, a higher bar passage rate at the university your degree comes from makes your degree more valuable.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      Right. Especially after the Dean of the LS lobbied to have that bar lowered… (pun absolutely intended)

  9. Bob Smith says:

    How does this devalue a degree? Do you know anything about law school admissions?

    • uomatters says:

      It devalues UO law degrees because a degree says you got through a rigorous entrance process, got an education that added to your ability, and then passed a tough exam that proved you were approximately as able as the lawyer the other side hired. Of these 1 and 3 are now weakened, I can’t speak about 2.

      • Bob Smith says:

        3.5 is the current median GPA for incoming law students. I’m not a math guy, but wouldn’t adding more students over 3.5 potentially increase that median? And if median GPA is a factor in law school rankings, I’m kind of thinking that might actually make my degree more valuable.

        Also, your blog seems to care a lot about saving students money. Why should students shell out $200+ to LSAC if they have the grades to be admitted and the desire to stay in their community?

        • CSN says:

          I agree with this. We know that high stakes tests are noisy signals. I wonder how much of UOM’s views on law school actions are colored by their relationship with CAS — in isolation, this might actually be a good move both for the law school and the law school’s students.

          I think the other question is the extent to which the law labor market is able to differentiate candidates beyond simply their alma mater. Certainly academic labor markets try to do more than that.

      • Townie says:

        I think it it kind of foolish to waive the requirement. That said, a 3.5 GPA is quite high. It’s also not easy for many students to prep for an LSAT when they are taking 4+ courses on the 10 week quarter system calendar, and getting good grades.

        Maybe the law school should admit the students on the condition that they write the LSAT in the summer or fall?

        • uomatters says:

          The obvious market solution would be for the law school to charge students an extra $5K in tuition if they want to skip the LSAT.

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