Georgetown University Law Center Dean of Admissions Andrew Cornblatt announced that the center’s Early Assurance Program will not be terminated, but instead continued under a modified format, at an event hosted by the Pre-Law Society in White-Gravenor Hall on Wednesday.
Since 1984, GULC has allowed Georgetown undergraduate students to apply to the law school during the spring of their junior year without having to first take the Law School Admission Test, a standardized exam used by many law schools in the admissions process. In past years, the program typically accepted 15 to 20 students from an applicant pool of up to 60 students.
The Cawley Career Education Center initially announced the GULC’s termination of the program in an email Jan. 20, stating that Georgetown students would now need to apply to the law school along with the general applicant pool. However, in a letter sent to undergraduate students Feb. 25, Cawley Career Center Pre-Law Advisor Victoria Turco said the program will continue, with one key change to the testing requirements.
“Georgetown juniors may apply to the Law Center without taking the LSAT, but must submit their ACT or SAT scores. Admissions decisions will be made without an LSAT score, as has been the case since the program was instituted in 1984,” Turco wrote. “However, admitted students must sit for the LSAT and submit their scores to the Law Center prior to matriculation. While students are now required to take the LSAT prior to entering the Law Center, the actual LSAT score will not be grounds for revoking an acceptance that was extended pursuant to this program.”
As before, students may apply March of their junior years and will be notified of decisions by late April.
At the event Wednesday, Cornblatt explained to prospective applicants that he fought to maintain the Early Assurance Program in its original form, but that the ultimate compromise with the American Bar Association was to require all accepted students to take the LSAT before matriculation.
“The ABA is making us have you take the LSAT. They are making us do that. I can’t get around that anymore,” Cornblatt said. “I fought the good fight, I promise. I was by your side, you were by my side.”
Cornblatt noted that Georgetown’s program had originally begun to encounter difficulties five to eight years ago when other schools began emulating its structure by accepting students without taking into account their LSAT scores.
According to Cornblatt, this allowed law schools to prevent their students’ LSAT results – which were possibly lower than those desired – from being counted in annual considerations made to determine the U.S. News and World Report Law School rankings. The ABA eventually realized many schools were using this system to boost their rankings.
Because Georgetown’s program was created three years before the U.S. News and World Report Rankings existed, Cornblatt said it could not have been designed to cheat the system.
“We could not be gaming the system – there was no system to game. There were no rankings then, that’s not why we did it,” Cornblatt said.
Cornblatt emphasized his resolve in continuing the program, noting that he brought evidence of its effectiveness to the ABA five years ago in an effort to defend it after other universities started imitating it. The ABA allowed the program to continue, provided Georgetown could prove its necessity and usefulness on a year-to-year basis. Cornblatt did not elaborate on whether or not other institutions were able to similarly negotiate their programs.
Cornblatt placed the responsibility of the decision on the ABA, underscoring GULC’s continuous attempts to act in students’ interests.
“Understand they wanted us to be done and we didn’t want to be done. Believe me, we are the good guys in this,” Cornblatt said. “We kept trying to talk to them about this and then they shut this thing down.”
Cornblatt emphasized that the modification of the program should have a negligible effect on potential applicants, with the exception that they will now be obligated to sit for the LSAT.
“The program is in place and alive and well,” Cornblatt said. “Nothing has really changed from your point of view except in the end you have to take the test.”
GULC now risks seeing a lower median LSAT score and as a consequence, an effect on its ranking because of the newly implemented changes. However, Cornblatt said GULC is willing to make this sacrifice, and expressed confidence that current undergraduate students at Georgetown will still perform highly.
“I think that’s a small price to pay, number one,” Cornblatt said. “Number two, I think because it’s Georgetown, because it’s your law school, I figure you guys, you may not maybe get intense about it. That’s okay with me. I don’t blame you a bit, but you’re not going to blow it off. I hope you won’t do that, but I think for your own pride you’ll want to do as well as you can.”
Roey Hadar (SFS ’18) said that though he was disappointed upon receiving news of the program’s discontinuance, he was hopeful after hearing Cornblatt speak.
“The pre-law program was actually part of the reason why I chose Georgetown and it was very disheartening to read the original email, but it was definitely encouraging to hear that the program is just being only slightly marginally changed,” Hadar said.
Anne Marie Hawley (COL ’19), who is also considering applying to the program, said she was happy to see the care taken by the law center to clarify the initial announcement.
“Hearing that the people at the law school really care about the students here and keeping the pipeline is good to know,” Hawley said.
Prospective applicant Aaron Silberman (SFS ’18) expressed his appreciation of the directness with which Cornblatt addressed student concerns and emphasized that this news will bring relief to prospective applicants.
“I think the talk was engaging, and I appreciate the veracity with which he approached this issue,” Silberman said.
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