For five to 10 Michigan undergrads each year, the LSAT will no longer be necessary to earn three more years in glorious Ann Arbor. The Michigan Law School has launched its Wolverine Scholars program, which will admit a handful of Michigan undergrads who have at least a 3.8 grade-point average but have not taken the LSAT.
Admissions director Sarah Zearfoss says the program, which will start with the class entering in the fall of 2010, is an attempt to attract more students from the state. According to Inside Higher Ed, Michigan's law school student body is 22 percent in-state, compared with University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's 70 percent and UCLA's 60 percent.
The move, however, has put a small dent in the LSAT's supremacy in admissions and has ruffled the feathers of law school watchers, some of whom claim the move is a way to game the U.S. News rankings. Some law bloggers have suggested that the program may be designed to attract students with high grades but potentially low LSAT scores. Under this plan, they say, Michigan would get a boost in GPA and, without those LSAT scores reported, would also increase its LSAT average.
Zearfoss says that the number of students admitted this way (at most 10 students out of 360) couldn't make a dent on the rankings. U.S. News's rankings guy, Bob Morse, agrees. He says that if the Wolverine Scholars program enrolls only 10 students, "it will not have any meaningful impact on the U.S. News law school rankings since those students will account for such a small proportion of the first year class."