The Best and the Brightest: Canadian Law School Admissions
Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 37, pp. 843-876, 1999
34 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2011
Date Written: 1999
This article assesses the admissions policies commonly employed by law faculties in common law Canada. These faculties rely heavily on admissions criteria and policies developed in the United States and, like their American counterparts, typically admit students on the basis of "index scores" produced by combining Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) performance with Undergraduate Grade Point Average (UGPA). The appropriateness of this American model to the Canadian context has never been rigorously assessed. This raises serious questions as to whether Canadian law school admissions policies serve either of their stated goals of finding the "best" students or of advancing social equity. The authors summarize available data and identify a number of problems that flow from reliance on index scores as the primary basis for admissions decisions. Particular problems addressed include the inadequacy of the methods used to identify either good students or good lawyers, the trickle-on consequences for law school pedagogy and evaluation, and wider consequences for distributive justice. In light of the immense impact of law school admissions decisions on individual career choice, the composition of the legal profession, and Canadian social mobility patterns, the authors call for a re-evaluation of the assumptions and practices of law school admissions.
Keywords: Canada, Law schools, Admissions
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