Students who plan to apply to law school have their work cut out for them.
Pre-law students study hard over the course of their undergraduate years to build strong analytical and logical reasoning skills. In addition to a taxing course load, these students face the specter of the LSAT in their junior or senior years.
If you're a pre-law student, this likely sounds familiar. You might have spent months on end studying for your LSAT, researching your dream law schools, meticulously crafting every sentence of your law school applications, and taking myriad practice tests to inch your LSAT score up as high as possible so you can be as competitive as you can be.
All of that work has to account for something, right? Yet, if someone alleges that you committed misconduct concerning your LSAT application or during your LSAT test-taking experience, the committee governing the LSAT could cancel your scores. That committee could even make a note of your alleged misconduct or your association with a testing irregularity to place in your permanent file. This could put a huge wrench in your law school application plans—and it could even damage your reputation permanently.
You can't let that happen. At the Lento Law Firm, we agree. It's time to make sure that you're taking steps to protect your future from allegations of LSAT-related misconduct or testing issues.
What Is the LSAT?
The LSAT, or the Law School Admission Test, is an intense examination that every pre-law student must sit prior to gaining entrance to a law school. The test covers analytical thinking and critical reading skills to assess a candidate's readiness for the complex subject matter of the legal profession (and formal legal training).
The LSAT is a grueling exam consisting of four sections that are each 35 minutes long. For over two hours, those taking the LSAT face probing questions about reading comprehension, logical reasoning, logic games, and more. The test also includes an experimental section that the test maker uses to see how specific questions perform. While it is not scored, it will look exactly like the other sections of the LSAT, so it is impossible to identify.
Included in the LSAT examination is a separate component called LSAT Writing. This is an on-demand essay that you can complete at a different time, but you do need to complete it in order to receive your scores. Even if you decide to take the LSAT more than once to increase your scores, you only need to perform the writing component once. This essay won't earn a specific score, but law schools will see it and potentially use it to inform admissions decisions.
LSAT Applications: The Main Type of Misconduct
An allegation of misconduct or an irregularity during the application process for the LSAT is easily one of the quickest ways to harm your legal career before it even gets off the ground. The LSAC, or the Law School Admission Council, has a page that helps explain what they consider potentially problematic misconduct when it comes to your application. Irregularities with LSAT application processes that could result in punitive measures include:
- Submitting false, inconsistent, or misleading information (even by mistake)
- Omitting pertinent information that could result in a misleading or false conclusion (even by mistake)
Unfortunately, the LSAC makes it clear that your intent to perform this type of application misconduct is irrelevant. When they conduct their investigation into your behavior, they will not work to determine whether you meant for an application irregularity to occur. They will simply determine whether something problematic happened, and, if it did, mete out associated repercussions.
The LSAC will send you a notice to let you know that they are investigating your application for irregularities or application misconduct. The most common types of application-related irregularities are:
- Misrepresentation of the applicant's academic record
- Misrepresentation of law school application information
- Inauthentic or altered letters of recommendation
- Misrepresentation of an applicant's disciplinary record
- Failure to report existing or prior law school matriculation
Of course, these violations only represent what could go wrong prior to the test itself. The LSAC has an entirely different set of expectations regarding appropriate conduct come testing day.
Misconduct During the LSAT
As the LSAC notes, practicing law is an honorable calling. Your application and LSAT test experience are your first steps towards becoming a lawyer. If any part of your documentation or behavior does not seem in line with the integrity expected of a successful lawyer, the LSAC may take action that could make your path to practicing law much more difficult.
Professional lawyers study, understand, and follow the ethical standards of their field. In much the same way, the LSAC expects that law school applicants read and follow the rules and regulations relating to test application and administration. Failure to follow any of these ethical standards could result in myriad repercussions, including but not limited to a blanket rejection of all of your law school applications. The LSAC also notes that if you manage to enroll in law school or even graduate and start your law practice, you could still accrue serious sanctions if the LSAC realizes after the fact that you engaged in LSAT-related misconduct.
These sanctions could include a notification sent to your state bar authority, a notification sent to your individual law school, the closure of your admission file, a revocation of an offer of admission from a law school, dismissal from law school, or even disbarment. The legal field takes ethics very seriously, and the LSAT is far from an exception.
The LSAC recommends, as a result, that you take the time to read through its rules and regulations in full. It contains a section that details the most common types of misconduct that happen during test admission and administration. The LSAC also takes the time to state again that an ‘honest mistake' does not constitute a defense against misconduct. Prior to providing examples of misconduct, the LSAC offers up a definition of misconduct related to the LSAT test-taking experience:
Misconduct or testing irregularities involve the submission of false or misleading information, the omission of helpful information, or the violation of regulations governing test-taking behavior. LSAT test centers can have their own specific lists of regulations that fall under this umbrella, which means that it's in your best interest to look up the specific guidelines that may be in place at your nearest testing facility.
General examples of misconduct and testing irregularities may include:
- Submitting false, inconsistent, or misleading data while registering for the LSAT (or on law school application forms)
- Submitting a non-authentic or altered transcript
- Submitting an unauthorized, altered, or non-authentic letter of recommendation
- Falsifying your records
- Impersonating another person while taking the LSAT
- Switching LSAT answer sheets with another person
- Taking the LSAT for any purpose other than applying to law school
- Copying information from the LSAT
- Sharing information from the LSAT
- Obtaining advance information regarding what may be on the LSAT
- Stealing test materials
- Looking or working ahead on other parts of the LSAT while you're supposed to be focusing on another part
- Bringing prohibited items with you into the testing center
- Attempting any of these or other forms of misconduct, even if you are not successful
The LSAC additionally makes it clear that an allegation of any of these or other types of misconduct or testing irregularities can happen at any time, even long after you have taken your exam. The LSAC will also be able to notify virtually everyone in your environment of your alleged misbehavior.
This makes dealing with your allegations of misconduct right now, before they balloon out of proportion, a matter of extreme importance.
What Happens After LSAT-Related Misconduct?
After the LSAC receives word about an alleged instance of misconduct or a testing irregularity, it will start a documentation trail immediately.
If the candidate in question already has LSAC data on file and has a relationship with a law school—e.g., they've already received an offer or are a law student—their school may be notified of a possible data error.
If the LSAC has not yet sent testing data to a prospective student's target law schools, the LSAC will withhold transmission until it is able to resolve the matter. The LSAC's Misconduct and Irregularities in the Admission Process Subcommittee will begin to piece together an investigation into the allegations.
The LSAC's investigation into your alleged misconduct may include several different types of activities, including:
- Interviews with testing facility administrators
- Review of your test
- Review of all of your documentation, including your past history of conduct
The LSAC states that it will make a good faith effort to preserve confidentiality. The LSAC also notes that it will continue its investigation until it is satisfied that the Subcommittee has reached a truthful conclusion, whether the accuser or the alleged offender requests that the investigation cease.
Once the Subcommittee has come to a determination of what they believe happened, the LSAC will send a report containing that determination to every law school connected to the individual in question. This applies not only to schools that a student may have already applied or matriculated to, but also any law school to which the individual subsequently applies. Moreover, the misconduct report will remain permanently on the individual's file for reference at any time.
At the end of the investigation, the Subcommittee will also send a letter containing the official allegation, a copy of all related evidence, and the rules to you. You'll then have 30 days to respond in writing to the allegations; in your response, you can request an appeal or a formal hearing. If 30 days go by, you'll forfeit all of your rights to a hearing or an appeal.
This may sound stark. It is. If you're an aspiring lawyer reading this cut-and-dry legal language, you might wonder if your hopes of ever practicing law have gone out the window. You might wonder if trying to move forward with a re-attempt at the LSAT is even worth it, given that the LSAC will immediately forward details of your alleged misconduct to any future schools you apply to.
Fortunately, at the Lento Law Firm, we can help. We believe that nothing should stand in the way of your future successful legal career—especially unfair misconduct allegations. We can help with strategies to boost your reputation after this event; we can help you draft strategic documents to support your appeals; and we can simply help you stick to deadlines and keep yourself moving forward during this difficult time.
It's time to make sure that a misunderstanding, a mistake, or a false allegation doesn't destroy your future before it fairly begins. We're here to help you make that happen.
Call Joseph D. Lento to Help You Defend Your Test-Taking Experience
As you prepare to take the LSAT, you're preparing for one of the hardest experiences of your life.
Or—so you think. If you take the LSAT only to have your scores nullified or you show up to the LSAT and are turned away, those experiences will be harder. You'll feel confused, dejected, and scared for your future. What will this do for your reputation? Will you be able to get into law school, somehow, anyway?
After all of the hard work you put in, you need to be able to have your LSAT score. It's time to take charge of your reputation and ensure that you have all of the opportunities you've worked hard to achieve. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced student defense attorney who is ready to help you protect your plans, your timeline, and your name. For years, Joseph D. Lento has successfully advised and defended students across the nation from misconduct allegations, and he can do the same for you.
Call our team today at 888-535-3686 to learn more about what Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can do for you.