Council stays the course on JD-Next admissions exam

The legal education arm of the American Bar Association declined on Feb. 22 to grant the JD-Next admissions test parity with the LSAT and the GRE, deciding to continue the policy of issuing variances for its use while collecting more data on its reliability as a predictor of law school outcomes.

The JD-Next test is essentially a segment of a law school contracts course with an exam. So far, 51 of the 196 U.S. law schools accredited by the ABA Council of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar have secured variances for the alternative law school admissions test. But the council declined to give JD-Next a full stamp of approval, citing a consultant’s report that raised several caveats while saying it appeared “valid and reliable.”

One concern raised in the report is that the initial test data came from individuals already admitted to law school and were exposed to the JD-Next curricula.

Daniel Thies, an Illinois lawyer who chairs the council’s Standards Committee, proposed that the council delay pronouncing that the JD-Next test is “valid and reliable” until more data is collected. The council agreed.

The council is also moving forward with revising its Standard 206, now titled “Diversity and Inclusion” in the wake of the June 2023 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down the use of race in college admissions. A proposed standard revision would carry the title “Access to Legal Education and the Profession” and would broaden the listed characteristics of diversity and inclusion to include socioeconomic status and Native American tribal citizenship. Next, the proposed changes will be reviewed by outside counsel first to ensure that it meets the Supreme Court’s legal opinion.