Rutgers Camden Gets Fined, Censured by ABA for LSAT Violations

By William Peacock, Esq. on December 05, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The LSAT doesn't predict much, does it? We all know somebody who bombed the LSAT, then proceeded to dominate their classes after barely being let in off the wait-list. Sure, someone who scores in the 120s probably will fail miserably at law school, and at the bar exam, but can you really blame a school for looking for a different measuring stick?

Rutgers School of Law at Camden did just that, and now, it'll cost them $25,000. The school has also been publicly censured by the ABA Accreditation Committee (oh no!) and will have to place a censure notice on their website for at least a year (egad!).

Should've Sought a Variance

Rutgers-Camden's big mistake, per the ABA Accreditation Committee's report, was in not seeking a variance first. Standard 503 requires accredited schools to use the LSAT in their admissions process, unless, per Interpretation 503-1, a school obtains a variance after proving the veracity of an alternative exam.

Of course, chicken or egg, right? How does a school prove the veracity of an alternative exam as a law school performance predictor unless it employs such an alternative first?

In May 2006, Rutgers-Camden began to use non-LSAT tests to round out their class. Some of the admittees were part of the JD-MBA program, while others weren't. The program was terminated in May 2012, months before the school initiated, and abandoned, an application for a variance.

Interestingly enough, after three years of letting in applicants through this alternative channel (an average of 6.7 percent of the class per year over a six-year period), an ABA Consultant on Legal Education sent a letter to all schools reminding them that a variance must be sought (with accompanying proof) before alternative tests could be used. Rutgers-Camden continued the program for three more years before applying for a variance, using data collected during the six-year program at issue.

Why it Matters

Does it? Rutgers-Camden is currently ranked #91 -- any gaming of the numbers doesn't seem to have helped much.

Nonetheless, the committee noted that the program allowed the school to let in alternative candidates without taking a hit to their LSAT percentiles, a vital factor in the US News rankings. The committee also cited the necessity of deterring other law schools from also disregarding the ABA accreditation standards.

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