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Ed Haggerty
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$10 Million Diversity Initiative

(December 19, 2000) The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) today announced the creation of a $10 million, 5-year effort to encourage law schools to rethink their admission policies and adopt strategies that will achieve greater diversity in the legal profession.

Called the "Initiative to Advance Education on the LSAT," the effort comes in response to concerns expressed by law schools that recent court decisions have severely limited affirmative action efforts in admission. According to many admission officials, law schools need new tools to encourage more diversity on campus and protect the gains made over the past three decades. To achieve this, law schools must look past traditional, "numbers-only" admission schemes and avoid the historic overreliance on the LSAT.

"It is an unfortunate tendency of many law schools to place undue emphasis upon the LSAT," said Rennard Strickland, Dean of the University of Oregon School of Law and Chair of the LSAC Board of Trustees. "While the LSAT is an important predictor of law school performance, it must be placed in the proper perspective. Education about the appropriate use of the LSAT, backed up by careful research and the development of new admission models, is critical if we are to meet our responsibilities as educators in a diverse society. This fund will help us achieve those goals."

The fund is the largest established in the history of the LSAC for such an initiative. It was approved unanimously by the LSAC Board of Trustees earlier this month. While the initiative is still in the planning stages, a variety of activities have been agreed upon by the Board of Trustees and will be funded under the initiative. These include:

  • Support for the Alternative Models Implementation Project. This project was established by the LSAC to develop alternative admission models that de-emphasize numbers-based admission policies by broadening admission criteria and systematizing the way in which those criteria are considered.
  • An annual, national training workshop for law school admission officials on the use of the LSAT and alternative admission models.
  • Augmentation of the LSAC faculty outreach program to educate law school faculty about the LSAT, alternative admission models, and other important issues related to law school admission and diversity.

  • A legal-profession education campaign that would attempt to educate judges, lawyers, and legislators about the LSAT, sounding the theme that the test is one, but only one, good piece of information that law schools should consider. The campaign also would support the continuation of race-conscious admission policies and stress the importance of diversity in law school classrooms.
  • Other projects related to the initiative. This "innovation fund" will spur creative thinking about the LSAT, admissions, and diversity in law schools. Proposals may come from a variety of sources including law school staff or LSAC committees, work groups, or staff.

"For the first time, law schools will have the resources to seek change and test new ideas," said Strickland. "Just as importantly, we will have the opportunity to educate the legal community at large about the proper use of the LSAT and to end many of the myths and misperceptions that have arisen over the years."


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