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<xTITLE>Testing For Negotiation Skills, Creativity: An LSAT For The 21st Century</xTITLE>

Testing For Negotiation Skills, Creativity: An LSAT For The 21st Century

by Diane J. Levin
November 2008

From Mediation Channel

Diane J. Levin

An LSAT for the 21st century

In the U.S., thousands of graduate school applicants sit each year for one or more of the standardized tests that most universities require as part of their admissions process.  One of them, the Law School Admission Test, known as the LSAT, measures the reading comprehension and verbal reasoning skills of hopeful attorneys-to-be — yielding results that purport to predict success in law school and in practice later.

But does the LSAT in fact measure the right stuff?

Researchers at the UC-Berkeley School of Law think that they have identified tests more accurate than the LSAT, according to a report by Petra Pasternak published at Law.com, “Berkeley Wants Research on LSAT Alternatives to Go National“. According to Pasternak,

Roughly 10 years have passed since Berkeley law professor Marjorie Shultz set out to find a more complete way to test students for admission to law school. This fall, she and Berkeley psychology professor Sheldon Zedeck have wrapped up their findings in a 100-page report, now available on the law school’s Web site. They say the LSAT, with its focus on cognitive skills, does not measure for skills such as creativity, negotiation, problem-solving or stress management, but that they have found promising new and existing tests from the employment context that do…

Jeffrey Brand, dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law, said that the research is welcome. Brand…said that passing the bar exam is clearly important.

“But we also need lawyers with the kind of skill sets that the world needs — like empathy, persuasiveness and the willingness to have the courage to do the right thing — which the LSAT does not measure,” Brand said.

Proponents of alternatives to the LSAT will no doubt have tough negotiations ahead of them as they endeavor to persuade the legal community of the merits of utilizing other measurement tools to predict effectiveness in law school and beyond. I wish them success: the legal profession and the public it serves can only benefit from this closer inquiry into what it takes to be an effective lawyer today.

Biography


Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property issues, and serves on numerous mediation panels, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Training and coaching are an enduring passion -- she has taught thousands of people to resolve conflict, negotiate better, or become mediators -- from Croatian judges to Fortune 500 executives.

 

A geek at heart, Levin consults on web design and social media to professionals.  She blogs about ADR at the intersection of law, science, and popular culture at the award-winning MediationChannel.com, regarded as one of the world's top ADR blogs.  She also tracks and catalogues ADR blogs world-wide at ADRblogs.com, where she has created a community for bloggers writing about constructive ways to resolve disputes.

 

web site: http://dianelevin.com



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