Honors initiative offers law school admission without LSAT

Ashanka Kumari

Undergraduate seniors who are residents of Alabama and excel academically in the Honors College can apply to the UA Law-Honors Admissions Program and receive admittance into the UA School of Law without taking a Law School Admission Test.

Kenneth Randall, School of Law dean, said the program is in its fourth year of a five-year variance from the American Bar Association and has approximately 30-plus applicants each year.

Matthew Bailey, a 1L (first year student) in the School of Law, took the LSAT but was admitted through the Honors Admissions Program.

“I feel that the program is both fair and not fair,” Bailey said. “Most people that get in through the honors program also take the LSAT, and they can apply for scholarships that way. They are being compared with the other applicants for those scholarships, but it is also unfair in that the honors admittance gives a group of people who happen to take easier majors or who might not do as well in the LSAT get in through another means.”

The LSAT is a half-day standardized test that is an essential part of the law school admission process in the U.S., Canada and other nations, according to lsac.org, the official website of the LSAT. The test provides a standard measure of developed reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in measuring applicants.

“Whether [taking the LSAT] has anything to do with them becoming a good lawyer or representative of the law school is very different,” Bailey said. “I feel [the program] is fair to those who attend The University of Alabama as everyone else has the chance to get in that way, but to those who attended other universities, it is not.”

Austin Whitten, a 1L in the School of Law, said he also took the LSAT but was admitted through the Honors Admissions Program.

“I’m really appreciative of the program, and it’s a great opportunity for those who qualify,” he said. “I don’t think a prospective law student is at any disadvantage by skipping the whole LSAT process. The countless hours of LSAT studying can be used more productively in other ways.”

To be considered for the UA Law-Honors Admissions Program UA undergraduate seniors must be Alabama residents, members of the Honors College in good standing, have a UA overall GPA of 3.80 or higher and have had an ACT score of at least 27 or SAT score of at least 1220, according to the School of Law website.

Although the LSAT is not required to apply to the UA Law-Honors Admissions Program, a score may be necessary if an applicant intends to apply to another law school as an incoming first-year or plans to apply to transfer to another law school after the first year, according to the School of Law website.

Bailey said he believes taking the LSAT does not necessarily mean a person will succeed in law school.

“I think that the LSAT is beneficial in that it helps test how some law school classes require you to think, but like any other standardized test, it has its disadvantages towards those that are less privileged and those who are bad at tests,” he said. “I’m not sure whether it equates to be a great lawyer versus the education they would receive.”