GREs are subject tests in specific subjects towards further acceptance into graduate schools, not necessarily law schools.
It is apparent that measuring an undergraduate's achievements in chemistry or physics may not be a good measuring stick to figure out whether he will be a good attorney.
Moreover, graduate degrees in biology, chemistry, literature and the English language, and physics do not require licensure, the only profession out of the GRE Subject Tests, psychology, and GRE in psychology is not the only test accepted when GREs are accepted by law schools.
Yet, the whole idea of attorney regulation and licensing is presented to the public as a vetting process by the government for the consumers of integrity and competence of attorneys as the only people in the United States allowed to represent people in and out of court and draft documents securing legal rights.
Part of that vetting is standardization of legal education and making sure that when a consumer finally hires a licensed attorney who was:
- selected and accepted by a law school;
- successfully completed the supposedly rigorous law school curriculum;
- passed the bar examination
You are given approximately 1 minute 35 seconds per question, you are required, during that time, to read large spans of texts from various areas of human knowledge (as lawyers routinely have to do), and you have to "turn on a dime" in your thinking, instantly grasping what is the gist of the issues involved in order to be able to answer the "split-hairs" questions.
That is not how English majors are taught. Once again, you cannot really prepare for an LSAT. You either have in you that agility of intellectual reaction, or you don't.
The difference of LSAT from GRE is that you cannot predict the topics (as in biology you are tested in biology and in chemistry - in chemistry) of the texts you are required to instantly comprehend, see the logic and answer questions.
That's why accepting GRE tests instead of LSAT tests is a step down for law schools - which will necessarily tell upon a further raising numbers of graduates of law schools failing bar exams. You cannot expect good quality at the exit of law school if you do not require good quality at the entrance, good quality for this particular profession.
Above The Law picked up the problem a year ago in criticizing Arizona Law School's decision to accept GREs in lieu of LSATs as "controversial".
Moreover, Above The Law clearly pinpointed two "not so altruistic" reasons as letting incoming students save time and money on having to undergo two exams (GRE and LSAT) instead of one-fits-all for all graduate schools (GRE):
- the measure was meant to address declining enrollment in law schools, and was directed at the bottom-line of law schools as businesses (here goes good solid law school education as cornerstone of promises to the public that attorney regulation is necessary, and that law school education provides a presumption of competency to the consumer);
- the measure was meant to keep law school rankings afloat since the ranking system, US News and World Report, ranks law schools, among other criteria, by incoming LSAT scores, but did not do that yet as to incoming GRE scores
- duck erosion in enrollment, and
- duck erosion in rankings.
Now that Harvard said that it is ok for the honorable profession to bamboozle the incoming student body and the public in this particular way, the ABA jumped and will put a seal of approval on it.
Yet, putting cosmetics on a corpse does not usually revive it.
Nothing, not lowering the requirements at the bar exam, not lowering the requirements at the entrance to law school, is going to help when the legal profession has its collective head in the sand and refuses to see the writing on the wall - deregulation of the profession is coming.
Either the legal profession as it is today will be destroyed because of the onslaught of technology - which hit the legal profession from both sides (I wrote about it, coincidentally, in July of 2016, at the same time when ABA was secretly considering the "study" from Arizona Law School to drop admission requirements for law students):
1) the rich - with ROSS artificial intelligence legal research system:
2) and the poor - with the DoNotPay computer bot that is now successfully advising how to defend against traffic tickets AND file refugee applications;
and where it is predicted by artificial intelligence industry insiders that robots will replace the majority of lawyers within a short 10 years.
In Netherlands, England and Canada, people are already resolving their disputes, from custody of children to claims of nuisance, through computer bots.
Or, it will come because of the "justice gap" that the legal profession, by creating monopoly for court representation, created, where the majority of the legal profession gravitates towards serving the poor, and the majority of the public, financing the regulation of the legal profession, remains holding the empty bag of promises and unable to afford an attorney.
Or, it will come because, by the use of disciplinary proceedings against solo and small firm attorneys as a tool of eliminating competitors (and critics of systemic flaws in attorney regulation and the justice system as a whole, including judicial misconduct), the little guys and gals will be eliminated, and there will come a fight between the giants who will devour one another.
Or, it will come through the so-called "disbundling" of legal services, which is already happening through proliferation of companies offering information and "do it yourself" forms to consumers.
Or, it will come, as it is already happening now, with the further drying up of the young people willing to put on themselves a crushing debt of law school with very unsteady promise of employment, and a real risk of having investment of their lifetime be destroyed because an attorney does the right thing, raises a sensitive issue in court, like judicial bias and/or misconduct - and in the process pisses off a judge.
No matter what combination of factors will change the legal profession to the point of elimination of, possibly, the majority of attorney jobs as we see them now, within a very short time - it is coming. Fast.
Having a giant like Harvard put a seal of approval on an otherwise fraudulent move to further conceal problems in the market of legal services, in order to trigger a responsive reaction in the "opinion leaders" and to set a new trend of putting makeup on a corpse won't change that trend.