More thoughts on the accommodated LSAT settlement

My analysis last week of the accommodated LSAT settlement between DOJ and LSAC has prompted some further reflection.

I raised the possibility that LSAC might coordinate with the ABA to disclose accommodated test-takers after the fact so that the ABA might exclude those LSAT scores from its reported medians. But it appears that the consent decree might not permit even that disclosure. That would mean that accommodate LSAT scores would be included in ABA means. And that also means that law schools would not face the kind of uncertainty I flagged as a potential issue--the reported scores would remain the reported scores, with no post hoc adjustments to the medians.

In terms of scholarship retention, it is likely the case that it only really affects students with high LSAT scores, because higher-ranked schools generally have very few restrictions on scholarship retention. In contrast, lower-LSAT accommodated students, who are admitted to lower-ranked schools with more stringent scholarship retention data, are likely exposed to a relatively higher risk.

And finally, this settlement, like many proposed broad legal efforts, means that the defendant cannot provide all the services that it purports to provide. LSAC wants to provide scores highly predictive of first-year law school grades. On that, it does a very good job--it is the best predictor of first-year grades; it is an even better predictor when combined (with an appropriate formula) with an undergraduate GPA. But the settlement means that LSAC must now provide both these scores, and scores that are less predictive (i.e., accommodated scores, which are not as predictive of first-year law school grades), without any indication to law schools about whether this score fits into one category or into another.

In short, this settlement will be good for some prospective students, and it will be bad for other prospective students. But, in several years, particularly with an increase in the number of accommodate LSAT takers that are likely to arise as a result of the DOJ consent decree, we should see the predictive value of the LSAT diminish materially. And it will be incumbent upon schools to find other ways of identifying factors that will be more predictive of first-year success.