Assessing for Justice with SALT

The Bar Exam Committee of SALT (Society of American Law Teachers) is working to address many of the problems with current licensing practices that are described and decried in Chapter One of Best Practices (“The Licensing Process is Not Protecting the Public” at pp. 11-15).  SALT’s perspective is that access to the profession has been captured by an interlocking system of the LSAT, conventional law school grading, and bar exams.  These mutually reinforcing assessment tools operate as a terrible bar to the profession, disproportionately keeping out people of color, while failing to adequately test minimal competency to practice law.  Inspired to action by this critique, SALT’s Bar Exam Committee has engaged in many projects in the past few years, including:   

  • opposing efforts to raise the multistate cut scores in Minnesota (success), Florida (failure), and New York (failure, but could have been worse);
  • supporting removal of Texas’ limit on how many times a candidate can take the bar exam;
  • cautioning the California Bar Examiners against release of bar passage data;
  • producing a variety of events to showcase current (Franklin Pierce with New Hampshire!) and proposed licensing methods that do a much better job of testing for minimal competency to practice law; and
  • continuing to oppose Department of Education pressure on the ABA to impose discriminatory bar passage rates as bright-line accreditation standards.

SALT Bar Exam Committee Co-Chairs are Andi Curcio (Georgia State) and  Peggy Maisel (FIU), and members include Liz Ryan Cole, Roberto Corrado, Julie Davies, Tim Floyd, Kris Booth Glen, Joan Howarth, and Peter Joy.  Our overarching current project is engaging law professors, especially clinical professors, in the task of developing valid and reliable methods to assess lawyering skills.  These are the testing methods that will improve legal education and transform attorney licensing….    Check out the SALT website for materials on all of these projects….  Ideas, suggestions, and volunteers are always welcome!

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