Articles published in July 2010

The LSAT and Disabilities


And so it shall be...

It’s always strange to see the LSAC embroiled in a legal issue since it’s the group that assesses everyone’s ability to be a lawyer, but unlike with the Testmasters lawsuit, in this one LSAC found itself a defendant.  The case was US vs. LSAC. And they’ve settled (with LSAC paying a $20K fine…)

From what I’ve heard from students, it’s been rather difficult to receive accommodation on the LSAT. Mostly folks have complained about accommodation for learning disabilities – but this case is actually about physical disabilities. In the settlement, LSAC has agreed to a streamlined process for evaluating whether candidates should receive accommodations. Obviously good news for those who need these accommodations!

I’ve heard LSAC talk – it’s a very ethically-minded organization. So why would LSAC find itself in this boat? Probably it’s because LSAC works hard to maintain the LSAT’s usefulness as a predictive tool. There’s a line of thinking: if folks receive accommodations during testing that they would not receive in law school, should we do it? The thing is, law schools will accommodate those with physical difficulties — and if they don’t, I’m sure the ADA will be after them! If you’d like to hear more about how this case fits into a broader struggle for greater accessibility, take a look at the New Hours broadcast that discusses the LSAT case.

To be clear, this agreement only covers physical disabilities – for those who are seeking an accommodation because of ADHD or something similar, here’s a run-down by Steve Schwartz of what you should do to apply for extended time. It’s pretty interesting how the LSAT is different than other tests out there. Sort of the same way that the LSAT is still paper and pencil. No doubt the LSAC is saying that if it ain’t broke…

Breaking the LSAT Arcade


Some students treat their LSAT prep like a side gig – dipping their toe once or twice a week. Others dive in, with their clothes on. I now speak of Derek – who’s set up a blog post to record his travels through LSAT land. And yesterday, he posted this about his latest conquest with the LSAT Arcade:

That’s the first game-breaker we’ve seen (other than from our geeky curriculum developers who spent hours playing each game).

Break-away, Derek! Break-away!

(but which game was this?)

What should I do with my JD and my life?


Cause lots of people think lawyers are pretty cold, but they're actually kind of sweet.We recently took a poll on our Facebook fan page about what field of law our fans wanted to be. Responses ranged from Entertainment to Public Interest to Intellectual Property.

Going to law school is a big decision in and of itself, but figuring out what you want to do AFTER law school can also be a challenge. One decision to think about is whether you looking to work in a big firm or a smaller one. A recent article on laid out some important questions for lawyers to ask themselves when considering whether they would like to work for a big firm. It notes:

“For the most part, the bigger the firm, the farther away you are from being in a courtroom (or at least speaking in a courtroom). At the same time, when you do get the chance to talk, you will be extremely well prepared. If you are working in a small firm, or working with one other attorney, you are much more likely to get thrown into the fire quickly.”

So getting into a big firm is certainly a trade-off. Often it means a lot of money, but sometimes it means a year or two in the basement, looking for misplaced commas and other errors in endless pages of contracts. Yes, you’ll lose all color in your skin, but you’ll be able to pay for a great vacation to go tan it back!

If you’re unsure of where you want to land once you finish law school, you may want to consider environmental law. According to this article in the National Jurist, thanks to new EPA regulations and certain oil spills, there looks to be a big demand for environmental lawyers on both sides of the argument. Amber Maclver, an associate at Baker Botts, said “Environmental law attorneys are involved in every stage of a business’s life cycle. As a new attorney, there is a lot of potential to become an expert in a niche area of this practice. This is a great field to pursue with amazing opportunities.”

Whether it’s a big or a small firm, or whether you’re looking to help actors or oil-coated seagulls, there are definitely a lot of options for you and for many of us it’s worth thinking outside the box (or basement).

A New LSAT Video Game


Finally, Mario Brothers meets LSAC. It’s here, it’s funny-looking, it’s full of really tough questions, it’s the Atlas LSAT Arcade! Take a look and have fun.

Can You Unlock the Dragon? (or the Mixer?)

Congrats to all the teachers, developers and web-savy folks who put lots of sweat into this game – it’s a beauty! We’ll talk more about how to use it as part of your prep – it’s not just for kicks…

Exercise and the LSAT


Go Little Blue Man, Go!

Summer is here and it’s time to get off your butt and start studying for the October LSAT. But, it’s also time to get off your butt in general. It’s now fact (until proven otherwise) that exercise improves brain function! I first read about this in The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge – a mind-blowing book. When he discussed the exercise-brain link, Doidge was a bit more focused on preventing Alzheimer’s disease. But, now I’ve read in Science Daily that it’s also true for the pre-geriatric crowd.

Charles Hillman, the brainiac behind the study, says that “regardless,” he said, “the importance is the same. Physical activity is related to better cognitive health and effective functioning across the lifespan.”

Another study, as reported in Entrepreneur explained:

1. As you exercise, your muscles contract.
2. This releases chemicals, including a protein called IGF-1.
3. IGF-1 travels to the brain and stimulates the release of several chemicals, including brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).
4. Regular exercise increases levels of BDNF.
5. BDNF stimulates neurons (brain cells) to branch and connect in new ways.
6. New junctions between neurons are the basis of learning.

(Why exactly is Entrepreneur reporting on this? I guess the same reason I am…)

Boom! And this is at the heart of getting truly better at the LSAT. Since most of us were not born holding a golden gavel (i.e. thinking like a lawyer), going beyond the usual LSAT score increases means switching from the B.S.-production-write-a-10-page-paper-about-what-YOU-think mindset that we develop in high school & college to the legalistic mindset that is needed to be, well, legalistic. A few new neural pathways could definitely help!

So, the daily 12-hour LSAT study marathon may not be such a great idea this summer- instead, do a 6 hour LSAT marathon, then an actual marathon, and then another 6 hour marathon. Well…maybe just a half-marathon. Actually, you probably should limit your study sessions to a few hours – the brain needs a break, and a jog.