Whether or not you think that the LSAT should be important, we all know that it is important. Scoring well on the LSAT is absolutely crucial to getting into a good law school.
But usually the power of the LSAT fades after you matriculate to a law school. Usually people who are concerned about your LSAT score are the people who consider their own LSAT score their greatest achievement in life. Pathetic, I know, but I’ve met these people in real life. They really think that scoring well on a standardized test means something more than being able to score well on a standardized test.
We accept that law schools need to be focused on the LSAT — they need some way to compare people from different schools and programs. But should employers still care about your LSAT score? Should legal employers really be concerned about a test that you took years ago, before you had any legal training?
At K&L Gates, the answer appears to be yes…
You just don’t see law firms asking for your LSAT score every day. But check out this the K&L Gates job listing, posted on Simplicity (a Duke tipster sent it in):
K&L Gates, LLP (Seattle, WA)
Associate Attorney (Commercial Litigation)
Application information: Send cover letter, transcript & LSAT scores, and writing sample to Recruiting Administrator [Redacted]
I mean, what is the LSAT telling K&L Gates about whether or not a person is ready for commercial lit in Seattle? Do they want people to send in their SAT scores too? Did your mother save any of your old macaroni drawings? Make sure to send those to K&L Gates as well.
But you know, I can’t totally slam K&L Gates for this request. Ever since the recession started, it seems like law schools having been going out of their way to make their grading systems completely unintelligible. Underlying all of these grade reform debates is the notion that somehow there’s a way to gerrymander grades to make an entire student body look more attractive to potential employers.
Well, if you spend two years basically telling employers that your grades are just for show and bear no relation to objective merit, it’s only natural for employers to look for something that feels objective.
And while many employers know that the LSAT is far from objective, at least the score doesn’t change on the whims of law school deans. At least law school faculties can’t artificially give everybody an extra five LSAT points just because the school had a tough OCI season.
Still, at the end of the day, basing employment decisions on LSAT scores or law school grades or even law school prestige is taking a short cut. Objectivity is an illusion; K&L Gates and other similarly situated employers have to go beyond the “stats” listed on a resume. That means more interviews, more recommendations and networking, just more work on the part of the K&L Gates people in charge of hiring.
It’s one thing for law schools to give outsized importance to the LSAT. But employers should really be more diligent when it comes to hiring.