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LSAC’s Disability Discrimination Settlement: What it Means

We wrote at the beginning of the year about how, due to a ruling by California courts, LSAC could no longer disclose which scores were taken under accommodated testing conditions. The catch was that the ruling only applied to LSAT test-takers in California.

Well, sound the trumpets and ring the bells, because that’s no longer the case. LSAC settled with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to fork over $7.73 million (no wonder it costs so much for simple changes like switching testing centers!) and to stop flagging the LSAT scores of test-takers who received extra time.

On the one hand, it’s a policy change that makes sense. The point of allowing test-takers with ADHD to take the test with extra time was to level the playing field, and if those LSAT scores are flagged, it’s not at all clear whether the playing field was actually leveled.

On the other hand, as our friends at Above the Law have been discussing, there’s a huge potential for abuse here. The good news is that LSAC does tend to be fairly strict in deciding to whom they will allot extra time – generally, successful candidates need to be able to demonstrate a fairly extensive history of having the condition, and even that may not be enough to guarantee extra time. And while this is pure speculation, now that tests given with extended time won’t be flagged, I wouldn’t be surprised if LSAC becomes even stricter when deciding whether to approve an application for extended time.

So let’s get to the part you really care about: How does this new ruling affect you?

If you are one of the LSAT test-takers who is granted extra time, the new ruling is certainly a positive outcome for you. What’s not to like? You’re still receiving exactly the same conditions, but your LSAT score will be viewed in exactly the same light as any other equivalent score, which probably would not have been the case previously.

And if you’re not one of the test-takers receiving accommodations, my official advice is to Not Sweat It. Yes, it is possible that unscrupulous people will try to exploit this new development by obtaining extra time when they don’t actually need it. But realistically, that was always a possibility (after all, how much of a deterrent is a “flagged LSAT score?”). LSAC runs a fairly tight ship, and while I’m not advocating blindly trusting The Man, in this case The Man probably knows what he’s doing. Until we see a reason to believe otherwise, I for one expect that the playing field will remain truly level.