We cannot overemphasize enough the significance of recent changes in both the legal profession and law school education. Between major advances in legal tech and the 2008 recession, it is not the best time to be a young lawyer.
Some of the new realities have hit many law schools hard, which has forced them (and even their bars) to start "dumbing down" in order to make up numbers. Law school deans, in fact, are picketing what Above the Law has called the "tyranny" of the LSAT. But does this all come at a cost? You bet.
Arizona Starts Something Big
A bit of time has passed for passions to cool since the University of Arizona decided to drop the LSAT requirement for admission in favor of the GRE. This move prompted a quick response from LSAC, who warned ASU Law that if "substantially all" of their students did not take the LSAT, they would get dropped from the 200 member club. The Law School Admissions Council, the non-profit organization that administers the feared LSAT has been resistant to change the format and the manner in which the test is administered to students and any move from its principal test threatens the relevancy of the organization in big ways.
What even the law school community couldn't have predicted is that about 148 law schools have since sided with Arizona U on its option to experiment with GRE applicants instead of LSAT applicants. It's a mutiny that even LSAC couldn't have foreseen.
Let's All Calm Down
All of this may sound great for students who are fearing the prospect of taking the LSAT -- or taking it again after having done poorly on the first try. Necessarily, this opens up the pool to applicants who don't want to go through the grind. We have no idea if the GRE is easier than the LSAT. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I don't know. I've only taken the LSAT.
But consider the schools' points of view. They need your smiling faces in order to make the bottom line, so a fair number of students will be by necessity be less "able" to handle the bar than prior students and grads. From an incoming student's point of view, this is a good thing (short term) because it means that the pool you will be competing against will also be less able. But who really takes a hit? The profession.
Editor's Note, May 16, 2016: This article incorrectly referred to Arizona State University, rather than the University of Arizona. This error has been corrected.