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Law School Admission Council and U.S. Department of Justice Reach Agreement to Dismiss Lawsuit

NEWTOWN, PA (February 26, 2002) The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) have agreed to resolve United States v. LSAC in a settlement that largely affirms current LSAC practices. This agreement follows more than three years of discussion, more than two years of litigation, hundreds of attorney and staff hours, a lengthy onsite review by a team of government attorneys, and an exhaustive review of LSAC policies pertaining to the accommodation of disabled test takers.

"We were always confident that our policies complied with the ADA and made that clear to the Justice Department from the very start," said Philip D. Shelton, president of LSAC. "Aside from some very limited modifications to our existing practices, which we are quite willing to make, this agreement essentially endorses the way LSAC has been doing business for a long time."

In its suit, the government alleged that LSAC had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against LSAT takers with physical disabilities. As relief for this alleged discrimination, the Justice Department sought civil penalties, compensatory damages for four named complainants and other unnamed individuals, sweeping changes in the way that LSAC reviews requests for accommodations on the LSAT, specific accommodations for the four named individuals, and an order providing declaratory and injunctive relief. These demands have been abandoned in favor of today’s agreement.

The agreement references a laundry list of pre-existing practices that LSAC promises to continue. In addition, the parties agreed to the content of revised forms for candidates and evaluators. The agreement is limited to how LSAC deals with requests for testing accommodations for persons with physical or visual impairments and expressly excludes other disabilities covered by the ADA. The LSAC also agreed to pay the government $20,000 "in the interests of an amicable resolution" of the lawsuit.

"We vigorously contested that we had harmed anyone and therefore would not agree to pay any individual complainant," said Shelton.

Shelton noted that "the most substantive modification to existing LSAC practice is our agreement to grant accommodation requests when candidates provide the required forms and can document that they have received the same accommodations on a previously administered standardized admission test.

Although the ADA does not mandate such a practice, we believe it will have a modest impact and will not undermine the integrity of our process."

While agreeing to ask the Court to dismiss the case with prejudice, neither party conceded their basic position. "The parties agree that this Agreement is neither an admission by LSAC of any violation of the ADA, nor an admission by the Department of the merits of any of LSAC's defenses."

"Although LSAC is satisfied with the terms of this agreement," Shelton said, "we would have preferred to see the Justice Department engage in rulemaking related to the ADA and admission testing, through an open and public process. Such a process could have resulted in better guidance for all testing organizations and for disabled test takers, and a uniform regulatory approach for all. This litigation was expensive and time-consuming for both sides, and resulted in little such guidance."

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