Predicting Lawyer Effectiveness: Broadening the Basis for Law School Admissions Decisions
admission criteria, incoming indicators, law school diversity
Law school admission decisions are heavily influenced by a student’s undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score. These measures, although predictive of first-year law school grades, make no effort to predict professional competence and, for the most part, they do not. These measures also create adverse impact on applicants from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. This article describes the rationale for and process by which we explored new tests to predict lawyer effectiveness rather than law school grades and reports results of a multiyear empirical study involving over 3,000 graduates from Berkeley Law School and Hastings College of the Law. Tests measuring personality constructs, interests, values, and judgment predicted lawyering competency but had little or no adverse impact on underrepresented minority applicants. Combined with the LSAT and UGPA, these broader tests could assess law applicants on the basis both of projected professional effectiveness and academic indicators.