All Posts Tagged With: "LSAT"
Movember hate, law school admissions & Guelph’s Ti-Cats
1. Every year some student decides to hate on Movember, the mustache-growing prostate cancer fundraiser. This year it’s Hector Villeda-Martinez, a women’s studies major at Concordia University. “Movember is a celebration of hegemonic, patriarchal, heterosexist masculinities,” he writes. “When was the last time, for example that Movember made outreach to transwomen?”
2. Students are getting the message that law school is no longer a route to a guaranteed job. In October 2012, 16.4 per cent fewer students took the Law School Admission Test than in October 2011. That’s following a 16.9 percent drop last October. The overall numbers of test takers is at a 10-year low. For those planning to apply to law school, the lighter competition is probably welcome.
3. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will play most or all of their 2013 home games at the University of Guelph, reports the Spectator. Guelph’s stadium recently underwent a $4.5-million renovation.
LL Cool J, brain-boosting LSATs and unwanted party guests
1. Rapper LL Cool J, who made famous the words “Mama said to knock you out,” has put his money where his mouth is. Upon discovering a burglar in his Studio City, Calif. home, police arrived to find that Mr. Cool J “just had him in custody with his physical strength.”
2. Cambridge Bay, Nunavut isn’t linked to the rest of the country by roads, but that hasn’t stopped Google Street View from sending a camera to map the high Arctic town. It’s probably not of much use, as the 1,477 people who live there pretty much know all the roads and apparently the satellite Internet is so slow that watching it will be a struggle. But for us in the south, it is cool!
3. Another lesbian student has faked an anti-gay attack. A former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star carved anti-gay slurs into her skin and then called for help. Police say a Facebook posting presaged the self-injury: “So maybe I am too idealistic, but I believe way deep inside me that we can make things better for everyone. I will be a catalyst. I will do what it takes. I will. Watch me,” it read. Earlier this year, a lesbian in Connecticut claimed she received anti-gay notes under her dorm room door. A surveillance camera revealed that she had been slipping herself the notes.
I guess my last post got some hackles up south of the border.
I guess my last post got some hackles up south of the border:
But is the LSAT pointless? Recently, a Canadian online newspaper asked why the great land of Canadia, home to mounties and maple trees, would eliminate the MCAT from medical school consideration while maintaining the LSAT as one of the principle determining factors for law school admission. The writer, Laura Drake, then postulated that the LSAT actually doesn’t test anything needed for law school/legal work.
*Waves frantically south of the border* Thanks for visiting! The author here is a fun, snappy writer, and you should check out the post, Why the LSAT is Useful, and one Canadian Newspaper is not.
. Now, on to some quick points.
1. I don’t think I actually postulated that the LSAT doesn’t test anything needed for law school or legal work. When I said it has nothing to do with the law, I meant the literal law. Current legislation, rules of evidence, civil procedure, etc. A lot of people who have never taken the LSAT are under the impression that the test includes those things, and I was simply pointing out that it doesn’t.
2. I also never said the LSAT was pointless, and if I gave that impression, then my bad for being unclear. What it does test — logical reasoning, analytical reasoning and reading comprehension — are probably useful for most things in life, law school inclusive. What I was more doing was try to start a conversation about whether its the best and, more importantly, only way to measure ones abilities at those things.
3. Maclean’s is actually a magazine, and I personally find it pretty useful at times. My own use to the universe, however, is definitely up for debate.
Why are Canadian law schools so wedded to a standardized test that has nothing to do with the law?
Last week all the scuttlebutt was about medical schools that are removing the MCAT as an admission requirement. Right here at home, McGill just axed the standardized test as a mandatory part of an application.
I’ve never written the MCAT, but from my understanding, it does, in fact, test things that one would probably need to know for medical school, like biological sciences. I know I like my doctor to know about biological sciences, personally.
So if medical schools are starting to ease up on requirements for a standardized test that appears to at least have some relevance to the future subject matter at hand, why are Canadian law schools so wedded to a standardized test that has nothing to do with the law? All of the English common law schools in the country have it as a mandatory requirement, and while the LSAT isn’t mandatory for the French schools, some do require applicants to disclose their score if the test was written and many use it as a factor in admissions.
Can anyone present a really strong argument for it as a requirement? I do see the value for admissions officers, to be sure. Potential law students come from literally every corner of the undergraduate academic world, and the LSAT is a ready-made, tried-and-tested way of assigning those thousands of people, with their varied backgrounds, a standard by which to judge them against one another.
But the trick comes, as always, with the word “standardized.” The LSAT is not immune to problems that come along with all such tests, like predictive abilities for law school performance that are mediocre and apparent bias against certain ethnic groups.
Yet it’s well-known among law school applicants that many Canadian schools sort their applications into piles by LSAT score and simply axe off those below a certain percentile. How many brilliant future lawyers are lost below that line, who, for one reason or another, simply can’t handle the LSAT?
It seems to me that there’s some room here for a Canadian law school to set itself apart by announcing a new, more holistic approach to admissions by waiving the LSAT requirement and perhaps doing something like having admissions interviews, which no Canadian law school does, instead, on top of using references and personal statements and extra-curriculars and undergraduate performance. If not for a whole entering class, then perhaps schools could set aside a certain portion of first-year seats for applicants that do not require the LSAT, like the University of Michigan law school did in 2008.
Is there anything about the LSAT that makes it sacrosanct?
Asking someone what they got on the LSAT ranks somewhere between asking someone what they weigh and asking them how much money they made last year
The whole deciding, applying and accepting process for law school is a long and arduous process, of which the most time-and-mind consuming of it all has got to be studying and writing the LSAT. *
If you ever need to disabuse your mind of the notion that knowledge of the law is a prerequisite for law school, take a gander at a sample LSAT one day. The six-sectioned, nearly-five-hour torture exercise has precisely nothing to do with the law and everything to do with one’s ability to generate locker assignments for oddly-alphabetically named fifth graders who are possessed of complex social structures that would erupt were Betty forced to share with Carly.
Still, it’s mandatory. And thus, it becomes all-consuming for those considering law school, between studying for it and asking other people how they studied for it and obsessively checking law schools’ median LSAT scores for last year’s entering class against your practice results, et cetera.
The strange thing, though, is that even though the only point of writing the LSAT is to award test-takers a score which they will use to apply for school, asking someone what they got on the LSAT ranks somewhere between asking someone what they weigh and asking them how much money they made last year on the list of societally unacceptable things to inquire of people that will always garner you cock-eyed disapproving looks but rarely get you an answer.
I started studying for the LSAT last February and wrote last June, and for the first time in more than a year since I received my score, someone flat-out asked me what I got. I’m in Victoria at the moment, setting up my place for the forthcoming school year, and while opening an account at the video store around the corner, the clerk asked what brought me to the city, and upon hearing my answer the first words out of his mouth were “What did you get on the LSAT.” Literally, just like that. I almost high-fived him for being so forthcoming, being someone who is both naturally nosy and was just previously paid to ask strangers intrusive questions.
It turned out that he’s in the middle of studying for the LSAT himself, which is exactly the position I was in more than a year ago. Just like our curious video clerk, I too constantly asked previous writers how they did on the LSAT, only to frequently receive such maddening non-answers as “Well, I did well enough to get into law school.”
Even on the Internet, where everyone is cloaked in a veil of anonymity, there is a reticence to share LSAT scores unless prompted**. Over at lawstudents.ca, each Canadian law school has its own message board, and each of those has its own variant of an IN! thread, in which applicants post messages when they get in to said school. Now, every single one of these threads is populated by applicants who haven’t yet heard back, and every single time the same thing happens over and over throughout the life of the thread:
1. Someone posts that they’ve been accepted to school X, with very little other info.
2. Someone else immediately responds, asking poster 1 what their stats are, ie, LSAT score and GPA
3. The original poster responds, gladly willing to furnish such info on request, but almost never having put it in the original post, despite knowing that these are the only things the people who use these boards really care to know, so that they may judge their own chances of getting an acceptance letter in the near future.
I suppose the reason that it’s so verboten to either voluntarily disclose one’s LSAT score, or to ask what someone else’s is, is that if the conversation is taking place between two applicants or law students, unless they got the exact same score, such a discussion immediately ranks the participants in a supremely uncomfortable way by which the superior score-getter fears being seen as smug or a braggart and the inferior score-getter immediately feels subpar and both are keenly aware of both their own and the other’s feelings, neither of which are pleasant.
Accordingly, even though the LSAT is something for which people prepare for months, and which the only point is to get a score, once you’ve got the score you’ve worked so hard for, the only people who ask what you got are those who have no comprehension of the whole process or what a score between 120 and 180 even means, and so just nod pleasantly and blankly when you tell them and then immediately ask what kind of law you want to practice.
*The second-most is the personal essay, which I actually hated far, far more than the LSAT and accordingly spent far less time on, but will be discussed in a later blog post.
**Which is exactly why I have just written a 750-word post on the LSAT without voluntarily disclosing my own score.***
*** In case it hasn’t become obvious, I’m about 300 pages into David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest right now, which is why I’m probably going to be moderately annoying for the next month or so w/r/t using footnotes and so such.
Getting a .333 boost to your grades might make you feel good for half a second — but that’s literally all it will do
When I was studying for the LSAT last year, I started to drive everyone around me a little bananas by viewing all utterings as potential exam questions and therefore subject to complete logical scrutiny. I’ve stopped since then, and I think I managed to retain most of my friends, but occasionally something will pop up in real life that makes so little sense that I can’t help but saying something like “Oh man, if that was a logical reasoning question, it would be an easy one.”
And when those logical bloopers come from law schools themselves, the very schools one is required to write the LSAT for, it makes the conundrums extra head scratchy. Like this:
One day next month every student at Loyola Law School Los Angeles will awake to a higher grade point average.
But it’s not because they are all working harder.
The school is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.
Getting a legal education in the United States is expensive. Really, really expensive. And finding a job as a lawyer in America right now is really, really hard – between February 2009 and February 2010, the American legal sector lost 37,100 positions.
So if you’re a new law school grad, six figures in debt and facing nothing but cricket chirps and tumbleweeds when passing out your resume, getting a .333 boost to your grades might make you feel good for half a second — until you realize that if everyone’s grades are increased by the exact same amount then your position relative to your classmates hasn’t changed one iota. Moreover, your positioning relative to people from other schools has seen no real change either, since stories are published every time this happens and potential employers can just subtract the amount of the increase off, leaving you exactly where you were in the first place: six figures in debt for a degree from a law school that employs the kind of logic that would get a failing grade on the test you needed to take to get into that school in the first place.
If you don’t make the cut in Canada, Bond University wants you
It was 3 a.m. as Warren Beil tried to toss a garbage bag into a dumpster and it burst over his head. At that moment, the Vancouver kitchen manager decided that it was time to explore other career opportunities. “I don’t want to be a chef,” he said to himself. “I think I’m going to go to law school.” It was December 2003, and he had already missed application deadlines at every Canadian university. Yet just a week later Beil, then 23, was on his way to Bond University, a law school in Australia that actively targets and recruits Canadian students.
Five years later, Beil — now completing his articling at a Vancouver law firm — is one of a growing number of future lawyers who are going abroad for their legal education. In 2007, 562 foreign-trained graduates applied to the National Committee on Accreditation, requesting the right to practice in Canada, up from 225 in 1999. If current trends continue, that number could grow by 200 applicants in as few as three years, according to Vern Krishna, a University of Ottawa law professor and former Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Bond is, by far, Canada’s most popular overseas law program. Since its founding in 1987, Australia’s first private university has geared its law program to attract Canadians. More than 140 are currently enrolled—making Bond’s population of Canadian law students almost as large as that of the University of Calgary’s faculty of law. Students meet fellow Canadians through the Canadian Law Students Association and study with visiting profs from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Western Ontario. They can even study Canadian constitutional law (Canadian corporate law courses are in the works, too) and get credit from the University of Manitoba. To top it off, it all takes place on a campus in the suburbs of Gold Coast, Queensland, a lush paradise that is a hybrid between Miami Beach and Waikiki.
Victoria Heron, a manager with student recruitment agency AustraLearn, says there are three primary reasons students choose Bond: to get through law school faster (a law degree at Bond takes only two years, not three), to gain international experience—and because they weren’t accepted at a Canadian law school. Eric Colvin, a Bond professor and former dean who used to teach at the University of Saskatchewan, says that two-thirds of graduates return to Canada to practice law and most have no problem finding jobs and articling positions. “The students say that they are able to get employment,” he says. “The fact that they have got their law degree from somewhere like Australia makes them somewhat exotic and interesting creatures and law firms are very willing to see what they’ve got to offer.”
Beil thinks his global outlook gave him an edge when applying for articling positions. “A lot of the Canadian law grads have never worked. They have never done anything,” he says. “In this market, employers just want to see something different. I got out there and saw the world and it makes me way more interesting.” But among his peers at the University of Toronto where he later completed a second law degree, Beil had to fight Bond’s stigma as Last Chance U. “The appearance of Bond to a lot of people in Canada is that the school will let anybody under the sun in,” he says. “People say, ‘You went to Bond because you couldn’t get in anywhere else. You’re not as smart as the rest of us.’ It’s simply not true.”
Good or bad? Right or wrong? Just different?
I was into the department yesterday morning when I stumbled across a particularly rare sight for 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning: undergrads. Why are there undergrads making noise outside my office?
Turns out the LSAT was being administered today. Poking around, I found that four classrooms had been booked for this event, and they all seemed pretty full. I would estimate a minimum of 100 students – approximately 10 per cent of the graduating class.
That’s a lot of wannabe lawyers. Out of everyone I knew throughout high school and university, I can only think of three people who wrote the LSAT, two of whom are now lawyers in training. Googling around, it’s fairly easy to find that there’s about 1.15m lawyers in the United States, but I had to construct an estimate for Canada – about 70,000. Applying the 10-to-one rule, that implies that the US has 60 per cent more lawyers than we do in per-capita terms.
Tossing out some economic reasons for the disparity, I can think of lawyers becoming a larger section of the population with more income, more income inequality (though Canada and the States aren’t significantly different on that score) and some bias from the different mixture of businesses that comprise our respective economies.
Still, it seems that like would hardly account for it all. I don’t put much stock in those reasons. In general, the law degree in the States seems a prerequisite for political ambition, moreso than in Canada. Elite law schools down here seem like the ultimate network for the would-be movers and shakers, one that doesn’t have a Canadian analogue, just like our universities are much more egalitarian than south of the border.
Good or bad? Right or wrong? Just different? I’m inclined to pick the latter, with some mild worry that a select handful of professors are giving the same education to an awful lot of the future governing body.