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University of Alberta Admissions Policy Research Project
Introduction

In every law school the emphasis placed on admission criteria forms a daunting and perplexing task for committees charged with the duty of “bringing in the new class.” Conversations swirl around issues of diversity, equality, access, fairness, and to an alarming extent, defensibility. While Canadian law schools have not had to grapple with legal challenges to the same degree as the American schools, that day may be fast approaching. Admission Committees are conscious of the need to establish criteria that will “assemble a class of individuals who will contribute to each other’s learning experiences, and who possess talents and skills that will contribute to the profession.” Such skills and talents are not always obvious and cannot be predicted by LSAT and undergraduate grades alone.

When LSAC announced that it was releasing monies for research into admission procedures, the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law developed a research proposal. The Alternative Model Implementation Project Innovation Fund to conduct research to encourage creative thinking about admission issues provided us with the opportunity to re-evaluate and reconsider our admission processes and criteria. Our admission committee had expressed interest in determining which criteria would assist in increasing fairness, access, and diversity as well as provide the tools that would best predict those who would be successful in law school. The proposal we submitted aimed at developing or redeveloping, in some cases, admission criteria that would be particularly relevant to our school. The research aimed to explore the use of an alternative admissions model to ensure a diverse, fair and defensible admission process for LL.B. program.

Our research application indicated that we would attend to particular questions in order to arrive at a revised model of admission. In particular we looked at:

(1) the weight that should be attributed respectively to GPA and LSAT;

(2) appropriate use and interpretation of the resulting “prediction indicator”;

(3) creation of objective criteria and consistent measures to apply in the assessment of factors identified in our supplemental admissions form;

(4) use of a special admission category for mature students in light of the development of a broader based admissions process; and

(5) the impact proposed changes could have on equality seeking and racialized communities.


University of Alberta Admissions Policy Research Project

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