Northwestern may consider accepting GRE scores as an alternative to the LSAT

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law/Shutterstock

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Although the issue of law schools accepting the Graduate Record Examination as an admissions test is still being considered by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law is the latest to indicate it may consider those scores over the traditional Law School Admissions Test.

“This is a new world. Law schools are looking at much more sophisticated data. It’s just simply a matter of time, and probably a short amount of time, before the hegemony of the LSAT will destabilize and law schools will be looking at other criteria for admission,” Daniel B. Rodriguez, dean of the law school, told the Chicago Tribune.

Northwestern is conducting a national study about the GRE’s validity with the Educational Testing Service, according to an ETS spokeswoman. The ETS, which designs and administers the GRE, began the study in 2015 with the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. The Tucson-based law school announced last year that it was experimenting with letting applicants submit GRE scores.

Harvard Law School announced in March that it will accept the GRE in lieu of the LSAT, starting this fall.

Under the current version of Standard 503, which deals with law school admissions, law schools using alternative tests must demonstrate that the exams are valid and reliable. A proposed rule revision, which the Standards Review Committee put forth in February, suggests that the Council of ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar establish a process to determine the reliability and validity of other tests.

The proposed revision is under consideration by the council, and a hearing (PDF) is scheduled for July 13 in Chicago.

The ETS spokeswoman expects that the study will include more than 12 law schools, and the organization will submit comments about the proposed revision to Standard 503 at the July 13 hearing.


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Cartoon Caption: Will this one-eyed octopus find blind justice?

Cartoon Caption Contest

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This octopus doesn’t seem too thrilled about the foundation of justice. Send us your best caption for this month’s cartoon to give this eight-legged creature its due process. The winner of our June challenge will see their caption and credit printed in an upcoming issue of the ABA Journal.

Congrats to May’s winning contest contributor, Tom Frenkel of Carbondale, Illinois. His caption will appear in an upcoming issue of the ABA Journal.

Octopus destroys justice sign and pillars while lawyers run away.

Submit the caption you think best fits this cartoon by emailing captions[at]abajournal[dot]com with “June Caption Contest” in the subject line. Only entries received by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 11, will be considered.

Man with magnifying glass.

“Counselor, I believe the witness has testified that she succumbed to lies, not lice.”

How the contest works: Readers are asked to consider what’s happening in the cartoon in this post and submit clever, original captions. ABA Journal staff will review entries, pick their favorites, then ask readers to vote on the best of the bunch.

How to enter: Submit the caption you think best fits the scene depicted in the cartoon by emailing captions[at]abajournal[dot]com with “June Caption Contest” in the subject line.

Deadline for entry: Contest entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 11.

The prize: Bragging rights. Plus, the winning caption and credit to the caption writer will appear in an upcoming issue of the ABA Journal.

For complete rules, follow this link. To view past cartoons, check out this gallery or follow the Cartoon Caption Contest RSS feed

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2017 Cartoons of the Month



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7th Circuit upholds injunction allowing transgender teen to use the boys’ restroom

Education Law

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A transgender high school senior in Wisconsin, who wanted to use the boys’ restroom has demonstrated a likelihood of success that the Kenosha Unified School District violated the teen’s constitutional rights and federal education law, a federal appeals court has ruled.

In a decision on Tuesday, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction allowing 17-year-old Ashton “Ash” Whitaker to use the boys’ restroom. Judge Ann Williams wrote the opinion (PDF) for the unanimous panel.

Whitaker had used the boys’ restroom without incident for six months beginning his junior year, until a teacher spotted him in there and reported it to the administration. After that, Whitaker was told he had to use the girls’ restroom or a gender-neutral bathroom. Whitaker continued to use the boys’ restroom, but was removed from class several times for doing so.

Whitaker had begun identifying as a boy during his freshman year of high school, and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. He began hormone replacement therapy in July 2016, and filed a petition to change his name to Ashton Whitaker, which was granted in September 2016.

The appeals court said the school district had likely violated the equal protection clause as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination in education “on the basis of sex.”

Whitaker had claimed he was discriminated against because of sex stereotyping in violation of Title IX. The 7th Circuit accepted the theory.

The appeals court cited another recent opinion by the en banc 7th Circuit that found a gay employee was protected from sex-stereotyping by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The school district had argued that requiring a student who is a biological female to use a women’s bathroom is not sex stereotyping. But the 7th Circuit said that view is too narrow.

“By definition,” Judge Williams wrote, “a transgender individual does not conform to the sex-based stereotypes of the sex that he or she was assigned at birth.”

Judge Williams also wrote: “A policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender nonconformance, which in turn violates Title IX.”

Turning to Whitaker’s equal protection claim, the school district had argued it was protecting the privacy rights of other students by banning Whitaker from the boys’ restroom, and the privacy interest justified the classification based on sex.

That argument, the 7th Circuit said, “is based upon sheer conjecture and abstraction. For nearly six months, Ash used the boys’ bathroom while at school and school-sponsored events without incident or complaint from another student.”

The school district policy was arbitrary, the 7th Circuit said, and Whitaker had demonstrated a probability of success on the equal protection claim.

The 7th Circuit decision on the injunction and the reach of Title IX is contrary to another federal appeals court decision involving Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen from Virginia.

Grimm’s case had been accepted for argument by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the case was returned to the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as a result of a change in position by the Trump administration.

The new administration withdrew guidance that had interpreted Title IX to require schools to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity. On remand, the 4th Circuit lifted the injunction that had allowed Grimm to use the boys’ restroom, though two concurring judges praised the teen and his “struggle for justice.”

Courtesy of Equality Case Files


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Bill intended to speed up capital appeals, opposed by the ABA, is signed by Alabama’s governor

Sentencing/Post-Conviction

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey/Wikimedia Commons

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday signed into law a bill requiring capital defendants to pursue direct and post-conviction appeals at the same time.

Ivey said in a press release that the bill, known as the Fair Justice Act, “strikes an important balance between protecting the rights of a defendant and the state’s interest in allowing justice to be achieved effectively and swiftly.” AL.com has a report.

The bill requires the post-conviction appeal to be filed within a year of the filing of the direct appeal, according to a prior report.

The ABA had opposed the law. ABA President Linda A. Klein said in a May 12 letter to members of the Alabama Legislature that the bill increases the risk that an innocent person will be executed.

Klein pointed out that ABA guidelines require post-conviction counsel to investigate the work of prior lawyers in capital cases, including the work of lawyers on direct appeal. Appellate lawyers also typically need sufficient time to time to review thousands of pages of trial records, witness statements, police and medical documents, and other evidence, she said.


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Trump’s personal lawyer denies congressional investigators’ requests about any Russian contacts

Criminal Justice

President Donald Trump/Shutterstock

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Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, turned down requests by House and Senate investigators to provide testimony and information about any contacts he had with people connected to the Russian government.

Cohen told ABC News in an email that he turned down the request because it “was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered.”

Cohen has denied unconfirmed allegations in an unverified dossier about Russia contacts. Cohen had told ABC in January that the allegations were “laughably false.”
In April, Cohen said he was considering a lawsuit against BuzzFeed for publishing the dossier, the Washington Times reported.

The ABC story says Cohen is considered to be Trump’s pitbull for threatening legal action against Trump critics. Squire Patton Boggs recently announced it is forming a “strategic alliance” with Cohen.


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