Earlier this month, Harvard Law School announced that the Graduate Record Examination will be accepted in lieu of the Law School Admissions Test in applications, effective this fall. In the wake of this important announcement, we are glad to see the Law School taking bold, new action in its decisions to update admissions policies, and commend administrators for taking the risk in enacting far-reaching change that many other schools have not considered. This change will allow for greater flexibility for applicants while easing the process.
With its prestige and respectability, Harvard Law School is in a unique place to affect change and to begin a national conversation among its fellow law schools and the American Bar. The acceptance of the GRE comes on the heels of an internal study indicating that the exam seems to be as effective as the LSAT as a predictor of success during law school. Harvard has historically been in a position where academic and institutional changes have been widely emulated at other places of higher learning, and we hope this policy change sets a precedent in diversifying law school admissions nationwide.
The use of the GRE is additionally beneficial to students who may not have the financial means to take both that exam and the LSAT if they are applying to multiple graduate schools. If the GRE has proven to be an equal contender to the LSAT, it is worth giving all applicants, especially disadvantaged ones, the opportunity to submit it. This could provide future Law School classes with students who hold a greater breadth of experiences.
We also commend the Junior Deferral Program pilot trial, now in its third year, as it allows students to garner real-world experience in law and other careers with the added assurance they will have a spot in a later class. This program, while still in a trial period, allows greater autonomy and latitude for those unsure about their careers, with the benefit that they will be more prepared for law school once they matriculate. These “real-world” experiences help make students more competitive and prepared for future careers, whether in law or otherwise. There are clear benefits to this program, and we eagerly hope it will become a permanent fixture in the future.
In sum, we view the recent changes the Law School has instituted as beneficial, providing new solutions for the students of today and tomorrow. As times change, it is good to see policies adapt with them to better serve hardworking students who require flexibility and diversity of choices and opportunities. We wholeheartedly support these efforts to broaden the Law School’s applicant base and promote a wider range of experiences in future classes.