Level the law school playing field

Morgan Pace

The two most important factors law school admissions officers consider are a student’s Law School Admission Test score and their GPA. Many law schools also offer competitive academic scholarships based on LSAT performance and academic records. Students who are economically disadvantaged thus rely on doing exceptionally well in these two areas to secure scholarship funds and avoid the immense debt that law school would otherwise put them in. 

UT School of Law’s admissions department should introduce LSAT prep courses and expand other resources to help prelaw students — especially those from low-income backgrounds.

Countless studies have proven that the LSAT destroys socioeconomic diversity, and wealthier applicants score higher for two main reasons.

First, the LSAT isn’t a test of what you know. It's a test of how you think, and accessing this very formal way of thinking is expensive.  

Public health senior Victoria Schaefer said she had to pay a couple thousand dollars in order to feel prepared for her LSAT. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to do LSAT prep without (my tutor),” Schaefer said.

Hourly rates can range from $50 to $250 per hour, depending on the tutor. Unfortunately, these prices aren’t a feasible option for low-income students — especially at a time like this, where COVID-19 may be causing more financial hardship than usual for students.

Second, economically disadvantaged students often don’t have as much time to prepare for this test, as many of them can’t afford to not work and take months off to prepare for the test. 

When it comes to LSAT prep, UT prelaw students are pretty much on their own. This is especially detrimental for aspiring lawyers who are already breaking the bank to pay for their bachelor’s degrees.

Hong Tran Escobar, a UT School of Law admissions coach, said free resources, such as Khan Academy Official LSAT Prep and Official LSAT Prep, exist for LSAT prep. 

“Students may also take free practice tests, (such as) the sample law school admission test on LSAC’s website or the LSAT diagnostic on Khan Academy,” Escobar said.

However, these online practice LSAT programs can’t compare to in-person tutoring, where students have their personal questions and weaknesses addressed and corrected in real time. 

If UT were to offer these in-person classes, students would benefit because they would not only gain a deeper understanding of the test from different perspectives, but also be able to see actual progress from homework, quizzes and exams. 

If UT is unable to offer semester-long courses for a variety of reasons, UT could offer LSAT courses in the summer and winter breaks for their undergraduate students. 

These courses should be hybrid-based and available for those who can’t attend in person because of the pandemic. Participants should still have access to a qualified LSAT tutor to help them in areas they are struggling in, whether that be in person or virtually.  

UT could also be doing more for all students in terms of LSAT prep, not just students in traditional prelaw majors. 

“Since I am in the College of Natural Sciences, I didn’t have a prelaw adviser and didn’t get any help,” Schaefer said. “I tried reaching out to the prelaw adviser in COLA, and they weren’t very responsive (or) willing to help since I am not in COLA.”

All that to say, UT has the resources and money to better help their prelaw students. Even throughout the semester, qualified tutors should have office hours students can sign up for to receive personalized help. 

You shouldn’t have to come from a wealthy background to be better positioned for success and have the opportunity to go to law school. UT must do its part to help all students prepare for graduate education.

Pace is a government freshman from Duncanville, Texas.