Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Feeling controversial here, but someone posted on the "Law Jobs Exchange" Facebook group that "law needs to change" because failing the bar makes people feel like failures, law school was a waste of time, question their self worth. 

I don't know anything about the bar exam, but I am curious about others' opinions on testing accomodations during law school. My feeling is it seems a bit dishonest to give some students 50% more time in the name of "accommodation" in classes where the assessment is 100% exam based, and then giving them identical credit. I understand the concept of "levelling the playing field", but I'm not convinced that's what the current system does. I just don't think the degree of disadvantage or evidence required to get accomodations is worth that much more time.

Also, is there any actual evidence that testing accomodations allow students to perform at the level they would without anxiety or ptsd, and not significantly higher?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting topic. I've always thought of the purpose of tests and exams as a, more or less, objective way to ensure that X group is up to some standard or basic level of competency, such as the LSAT for law school and the bar exam for being a lawyer. Part of this objective, however, is to weed out those who fall below that standard which is fair, in my opinion (after all, what is the point of a standard if 100% of those who take it pass?). The introduction of accommodations definitely removes some of the objectivity in the test or exam, as there is a group that receives easier testing conditions but there is no distinction between either passing group. These easier testing conditions are to level the playing field, which is good as it increases accessibility to and diversity in the profession. I think that some accommodations are more legitimate than others, for example, I don't think anyone would argue that a blind person writing the LSAT has a significant advantage over the general group. So finding the balance and drawing the line is really difficult as accommodation will only get you so far. There is no such thing as "accommodation" in real life - a client isn't going to let you take 2x the time you need just because you are blind... it is logical for them to find someone who can get them the biggest bang for their buck; eventually I think they will get weeded out (I don't mean this in a negative manner... it is just like how many associates get weeded out of Bay St firms). 

To say the least, I think it is unfair, but lack of accommodations is not a solution either. There is no perfect solution

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

35 minutes ago, feraenaturae said:

Feeling controversial here, but someone posted on the "Law Jobs Exchange" Facebook group that "law needs to change" because failing the bar makes people feel like failures, law school was a waste of time, question their self worth. 

I agree.  Controversial.  I will say that I may be missing something in your first paragraph but to me it seems unrelated to the other paragraphs.  Accommodations are not related to self worth.  The goal is to provide a more level playing field.  The system is not perfect and in fact, sucks.  Sometimes the system will work in favour of the person being accommodated and sometimes not.  Sometimes accommodations are abused and sometimes there are extremely difficult hoops that individuals must jump through to make exams accessible.  Imagine being blind and being told that medical evidence is not sufficient.  

 

24 minutes ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

 The introduction of accommodations definitely removes some of the objectivity in the test or exam, as there is a group that receives easier testing conditions but there is no distinction between either passing group. 

I have always believed that sighted people have much easier testing conditions and testing skewed in their favour.  That said, I don't feel sighted people will be weeded out in the future because of this.  I still view you as an equal.  I think your view of persons with disabilities and the idea that they will be weeded out in future is offensive.  To be clear, I do take it in a negative manner.  The tone and tenor seems to be that persons with disabilities have nothing to offer and are being given a free ride.  I hope you have the opportunity to expand your peer group before you join the profession.  I also hope you have the opportunity to take a few courses on human rights and charter issues.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, Pawford said:

 

I agree.  Controversial.  I will say that I may be missing something in your first paragraph but to me it seems unrelated to the other paragraphs.  Accommodations are not related to self worth.  The goal is to provide a more level playing field.  The system is not perfect and in fact, sucks.  Sometimes the system will work in favour of the person being accommodated and sometimes not.  Sometimes accommodations are abused and sometimes there are extremely difficult hoops that individuals must jump through to make exams accessible.  Imagine being blind and being told that medical evidence is not sufficient.  

 

I have always believed that sighted people have much easier testing conditions and testing skewed in their favour.  That said, I don't feel sighted people will be weeded out in the future because of this.  I still view you as an equal.  I think your view of persons with disabilities and the idea that they will be weeded out in future is offensive.  To be clear, I do take it in a negative manner.  The tone and tenor seems to be that persons with disabilities have nothing to offer and are being given a free ride.  I hope you have the opportunity to expand your peer group before you join the profession.  I also hope you have the opportunity to take a few courses on human rights and charter issues.

 Sorry, I didn't include the full details about the post I referred to. They drew the connection, and said law needs to change because failing the bar exam makes people feel bad so there should be better accommodations so people don't have to experience that on their quest to become lawyers. 

You're right though, sometimes they benefit people and sometimes they don't. Sometimes people take advantage and sometimes it's actually removing a disadvantage. 

I'm more skeptical it removing a disadvantage in the case of test anxiety or ADHD. I fully believe both conditions exist and unfairly impact students to their disadvantage, but I still think giving them significantly more time on is an advantage. Annnnd I think for a lot of programs, who cares, assessments should just be about what you know. But for a professional program where grading is competitive, jobs are competitive, and a big part of recruitment is comparing how you performed on timed, but open book, exams relative to your peers...removing the time factor seems to be a big advantage. 

Edited by feraenaturae

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Pawford said:

I have always believed that sighted people have much easier testing conditions and testing skewed in their favour.  That said, I don't feel sighted people will be weeded out in the future because of this.  I still view you as an equal.  I think your view of persons with disabilities and the idea that they will be weeded out in future is offensive.  To be clear, I do take it in a negative manner.  The tone and tenor seems to be that persons with disabilities have nothing to offer and are being given a free ride.  I hope you have the opportunity to expand your peer group before you join the profession.  I also hope you have the opportunity to take a few courses on human rights and charter issues.

I think in response to my comment you have decided to let your emotions and instinctual reactions take precedence over rational and clam thought.  You took my comment in a different direction and completely twisted the nature of my comment. I clearly said that it is a good thing to increase accessibility and diversity in the profession, and that there is a need for accommodations. There is no denying that a blind individual would have a significantly more difficult time succeeding on the LSAT given regular testing conditions, thus the need for accommodations. 

However, the fact that you are offended does not change reality. I don't think you understand what it means to be equal. Equal in worth as human beings? Yes. But being blunt, it is a delusion to assume that everyone is equal in terms of performance. People, abled or disabled, will get weeded out of things that they won't perform well in and this is a natural and efficient process. There are places in which they will be put into better use. Everyone has the right to be treated equally but no one has the right to fulfill a dream - there is a line that must be drawn at some point in terms of what "equal" entails. A blind surgeon won't do anyone good, but a blind financial analyst can be the best in the world, given the nature of the jobs. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic gets discussed repeatedly, so I'll try to be relatively brief:

With some specific exceptions (some, but not all, litigation), you do not need to be quick to be a good, competent lawyer. Nor do you have to have 20/20 vision, etc. So requiring that in law school or bar admission tests one be especially quick and efficient doesn't make sense, is unrelated to the skills needed in the practice of law, and is unfair to people with various difficulties and disabilities, who in practice, would be able to deal with those difficulties and disabilities. If someone needs more time to read or write something, well, in practice, they can do that. If someone needs to use a treadmill desk or take frequent breaks to deal with ADHD, they can do that. So why shouldn't they be able to do so in law school?

Now, some employers may want someone who's faster (human rights considerations aside), but that doesn't mean the slower person is unskilled or incompetent or less deserving to become a lawyer, and so in law school and bar admission testing, they should be accommodated, based on fairness not just human rights considerations.

It may be that simply offering extra time isn't the best accommodation, or that some schools may not adequately investigate whether someone genuinely needs accommodation or just wants extra time, but if so, those are failures of the process, not the appropriateness of accommodation itself.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

I think in response to my comment you have decided to let your emotions and instinctual reactions take precedence over rational and clam thought.  You took my comment in a different direction and completely twisted the nature of my comment. I clearly said that it is a good thing to increase accessibility and diversity in the profession, and that there is a need for accommodations. There is no denying that a blind individual would have a significantly more difficult time succeeding on the LSAT given regular testing conditions, thus the need for accommodations. 

However, the fact that you are offended does not change reality. I don't think you understand what it means to be equal. Equal in worth as human beings? Yes. But being blunt, it is a delusion to assume that everyone is equal in terms of performance. People, abled or disabled, will get weeded out of things that they won't perform well in and this is a natural and efficient process. There are places in which they will be put into better use. Everyone has the right to be treated equally but no one has the right to fulfill a dream - there is a line that must be drawn at some point in terms of what "equal" entails. A blind surgeon won't do anyone good, but a blind financial analyst can be the best in the world, given the nature of the jobs. 

Maybe not surgeons, but while rare, there are skilled blind physicians/MDs doing excellent work, who people assumed should be prevented from even pursuing the degree, because, being blunt, they would not be equal in terms of performance... Not to mention lawyers and judges.

If law school exams and bar ads are supposed to test speed of reading and writing/typing, well fine. I don't think they are, I think they're supposed to test knowledge and understanding and ability to analyze. So I don't have any problem with accommodations that may involve giving some more time (subject to my comments above about not always the best accomodation etc.), because in real life, you have more time. If you don't finish by 5, you work late. Etc. If in a particular field or for a particular employer they genuinely need someone who can read, write/type superfast, well then, that's fine for those areas. But not law as a whole, and certainly not for the academic study of law (why should accommodation in law school be any more objectionable than in any other university courses?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, Epeeist. 

I guess I just don't think they are the best accomodations. Maybe testing shouldn't be timed for anyone then. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, epeeist said:

This topic gets discussed repeatedly, so I'll try to be relatively brief:

With some specific exceptions (some, but not all, litigation), you do not need to be quick to be a good, competent lawyer. Nor do you have to have 20/20 vision, etc. So requiring that in law school or bar admission tests one be especially quick and efficient doesn't make sense, is unrelated to the skills needed in the practice of law, and is unfair to people with various difficulties and disabilities, who in practice, would be able to deal with those difficulties and disabilities. If someone needs more time to read or write something, well, in practice, they can do that. If someone needs to use a treadmill desk or take frequent breaks to deal with ADHD, they can do that. So why shouldn't they be able to do so in law school?

It may be that simply offering extra time isn't the best accommodation, or that some schools may not adequately investigate whether someone genuinely needs accommodation or just wants extra time, but if so, those are failures of the process, not the appropriateness of accommodation itself.

To an extent the underlined is not really correct. Yes the person can take more time to do that specific task, but when it compares to someone who has less time to complete the same task because the accommodation gives more time, then it is not really an equal comparison. The court isn't going to expect the plaintiff's factum on the 20th while giving the defendant until the 25th so to speak; deadlines are deadlines (I presume i'm obviously not practicing).

However, I agree with the remainder though, that it is the process of accessing accommodations for their sincerity rather than the appropriateness. If someone needs an accommodation they should receive it, but if someone is just lacking with a particular skill, such as speed or efficiency, I do not believe they should receive accommodation.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, FingersCr0ssed said:

To an extent the underlined is not really correct. Yes the person can take more time to do that specific task, but when it compares to someone who has less time to complete the same task because the accommodation gives more time, then it is not really an equal comparison. The court isn't going to expect the plaintiff's factum on the 20th while giving the defendant until the 25th so to speak; deadlines are deadlines (I presume i'm obviously not practicing).

However, I agree with the remainder though, that it is the process of accessing accommodations for their sincerity rather than the appropriateness. If someone needs an accommodation they should receive it, but if someone is just lacking with a particular skill, such as speed or efficiency, I do not believe they should receive accommodation.

Yes, it is correct, at least on the time scales I was thinking of, and as a practising litigator (albeit part-time).

The deadlines one faces in law are generally like the deadlines and timelines one faces for law school assignments like term papers, not the deadlines and timelines that one faces in law school exams. That is, one has lots of notice, ahead of time, and weeks if not months or years (for litigation, not law school assignments!) in which to prepare. So in that sense, time isn't a factor.

I totally agree that litigation especially motions there are lots of things in which speedy responses may be required; but that tends to be speedy in the sense of days, not hours. And there are other areas, transactional work, etc., where time may be a huge factor. But those are specific areas, not the law as a whole. So again, can take more time than in a typical law school exam (I say typical because there are sometimes take-home weekend or overnight exams etc.).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

I think in response to my comment you have decided to let your emotions and instinctual reactions take precedence over rational and clam thought.  You took my comment in a different direction and completely twisted the nature of my comment.

You misunderstand.  I was ridiculing you rather than giving an acerbic response. 

44 minutes ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

I clearly said that it is a good thing to increase accessibility and diversity in the profession, and that there is a need for accommodations. There is no denying that a blind individual would have a significantly more difficult time succeeding on the LSAT given regular testing conditions, thus the need for accommodations. 

You seemed to suggest diversity was a good thing.  You also used the term easier to describe testing conditions for those who receive accommodation.  This shows absolutely not understanding of accommodation.  Then you said this:

2 hours ago, BayStreetOrBust said:

There is no such thing as "accommodation" in real life - a client isn't going to let you take 2x the time you need just because you are blind... it is logical for them to find someone who can get them the biggest bang for their buck; eventually I think they will get weeded out (I don't mean this in a negative manner... it is just like how many associates get weeded out of Bay St firms). 

First, there is such thing as accommodation in real life.  When you say weeded out do you mean that in a Darwinian or a more pro-active eugenics way?  Regardless, this negates any previous suggestion that you have a commitment to diversity or accommodation in the profession.

14 minutes ago, feraenaturae said:

Maybe testing shouldn't be timed for anyone then. 

This would require a completely different test.  At it's heart the LSAT is a speed test.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Pawford said:

This would require a completely different test.  At it's heart the LSAT is a speed test.  

I never said anything about the LSAT, but I still disagree that it's a speed test at heart. I think most people would do better on it with more time, but I think untimed scores would run pretty parallel to timed scores, or at least there's be a strong correlation.

That said, I also don't necessarily think untimed exams are the way to go.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, feraenaturae said:

Feeling controversial here, but someone posted on the "Law Jobs Exchange" Facebook group that "law needs to change" because failing the bar makes people feel like failures, law school was a waste of time, question their self worth. 

I don't know anything about the bar exam, but I am curious about others' opinions on testing accomodations during law school. My feeling is it seems a bit dishonest to give some students 50% more time in the name of "accommodation" in classes where the assessment is 100% exam based, and then giving them identical credit. I understand the concept of "levelling the playing field", but I'm not convinced that's what the current system does. I just don't think the degree of disadvantage or evidence required to get accomodations is worth that much more time.

Also, is there any actual evidence that testing accomodations allow students to perform at the level they would without anxiety or ptsd, and not significantly higher?

1st bolded point: In what way is it dishonest? Why is the term "accommodations" in quotations?

2nd bolded point: So the threshold for accommodations is too low? This seems to be an overly broad generalization, at best. Let's also be careful not to conflate legitimate accommodation requests with illegitimate accommodation requests. 

3rd bolded point: This is actually a good question. But you seem to want to say, like Bruce Pardy, that people who are granted extra time on exams on the basis of mental illness are given an advantage over the rest of the competitors. Without evidence, this assumption amounts to nothing more than pure conjecture. I could also speculate that extra time for an individual with mental illness has absolutely no effect on their performance. It is completely conceivable, for instance, that an individual with panic disorder, who is plagued by frequent panic attacks, is flooded with physical symptoms throughout the entire duration of the test, and the extra time only ensures their continued suffering. Or for another individual, perhaps the mere reassurance of having extra-time is enough to manage their symptoms, and they end up finishing on schedule with the rest of the class. My point is, there needs to be empirical investigation into whether testing accommodations disproportionally benefit the recipient at the expense of the rest of the class. To assume this to be true is highly unfair.  

Edited by PhilosophyofLaw
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, PhilosophyofLaw said:

My point is, there needs to be empirical investigation into whether testing accommodations disproportionally benefit the recipient at the expense of the rest of the class. To assume this to be true is highly unfair.  

I agree with this, exactly. And I don't assume it is disproportionately benefitting them, but it seems likely, so I wonder whether it isn't and whether other people think it is or isn't. 

I understand accommodations theoretically, and I don't think schools should go back to offering nothing. I also think there are lots of programs where extra time makes no big difference. But law exams are intentionally very time limited, and the average student would benefit from even an extra 10 minutes in an exam, let alone an extra 90 minutes. Especially because they are open book. 

The nature of law exams, and the fact that one assessment makes up 100% of the grade in the course, makes extra time seem dishonest to me, because an open book law exam with that much more time is just a different assessment. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

 Ferae, you are failing to address the main issue here, which is a legitimate doubt about your expertise in or extensive knowledge of mental illness. Do you hold an MD, or an advanced degree in psychology or neuroscience or related field? Have you read and carefully considered a body of academic literature regarding the effects of various mental illnesses that may give rise to the need for accommodations? If the answer is no, I would caution you against making broad statements about what "seems likely" to you.  Without expert knowledge of how someone else's mind operates under law school exam settings, it's unjustified for you to assume that they have some advantage over you.  Your willful ignorance, and the carelessness with which you make wild conjectures thereupon, is kind of troubling. 

Edited by articlingapplicant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, articlingapplicant said:

 Ferae, you are failing to address the main issue here, which is a legitimate doubt about your expertise in or extensive knowledge of mental illness. Do you hold an MD, or an advanced degree in psychology or neuroscience or related field? Have you read and carefully considered a body of academic literature regarding the effects of various mental illnesses that may give rise to the need for accommodations? If the answer is no, I would caution you against making broad statements about what "seems likely" to you.  Without expert knowledge of how someone else's mind operates under law school exam settings, it's unjustified for you to assume that they have some advantage over you.  Your willful ignorance, and the carelessness with which you make wild conjectures thereupon, is kind of troubling. 

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

You don't need to be an expert to have a discussion or an opinion. It's even okay to have an opinion without being all that knowledgeable about it. 

If you have a problem with the argument, engage with it — if it's as flawed as you appeal to authority makes it seem, it shouldn't be hard to knock it down. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, articlingapplicant said:

 Ferae, you are failing to address the main issue here, which is a legitimate doubt about your expertise in or extensive knowledge of mental illness. Do you hold an MD, or an advanced degree in psychology or neuroscience or related field? Have you read and carefully considered a body of academic literature regarding the effects of various mental illnesses that may give rise to the need for accommodations? If the answer is no, I would caution you against making broad statements about what "seems likely" to you.  Without expert knowledge of how someone else's mind operates under law school exam settings, it's unjustified for you to assume that they have some advantage over you.  Your willful ignorance, and the carelessness with which you make wild conjectures thereupon, is kind of troubling. 

I'm not sure what wilful ignorance or carelessness you're talking about? I asked for information, both in the form of opinions and evidence. I shared mine, making no claims of qualifications or even a suggestion that it's something I feel strongly about, because it seems weird to start a thread asking for opinions without going first. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Faerae, as someone who claims to support an evidence-based inquiry, maybe you should have supported your original post and your subsequent ones with evidence? Link to academic study? Instead, you preface your assertions with "I just don't think..." and "I'm not convinced." As you're the one making claims contrary to widely accepted convention and widely accepted practices of Canadian / American academic institutions, the onus is on you to rebut the norm. 

Edited by articlingapplicant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"a) Students with LD are not provided with an unfair advantage when given extended time. Several studies, beginning with Runyan's, and including two of mine have repeatedly demonstrated that students who do not have LD do not make statistically significant gains with extended time. This is really because they often do not need it! All the time in the world will not help someone answer a question if the answer is not known. However, for those who know the answer and need more time to demonstrate what they know, extended time levels the playing field." https://www.nicoleofiesh.com/extended-test-time.html I found that after a brief Google search. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, articlingapplicant said:

"a) Students with LD are not provided with an unfair advantage when given extended time. Several studies, beginning with Runyan's, and including two of mine have repeatedly demonstrated that students who do not have LD do not make statistically significant gains with extended time. This is really because they often do not need it! All the time in the world will not help someone answer a question if the answer is not known. However, for those who know the answer and need more time to demonstrate what they know, extended time levels the playing field." https://www.nicoleofiesh.com/extended-test-time.html I found that after a brief Google search. 

That seems wholly inapplicable to law school exams, where many students fail to complete exams (and apparently finishing early is so unheard of you will not be allowed to leave when you do :rolleyes:).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



  • Recent Posts

    • Greetings everyone, I completed my Bachelors degree from India last year, And I have a 3.7 GPA With 170 LSAT Score. My Ambition is to work as a Lawyer in Canada, But I'm really afraid to apply as I don't know about the job prospects for International Students in Canada.  I know how risky it is, To come to Canada on a student visa, And expect a job after three years on a post graduation work permit. So is it worth applying, as an international student?
    • It seems to be a recent phenomenon where getting approved without a cosigner with no credit history is the norm. Is it a fairly safe assumption that not much is going to change between now and this time next year? Probably. But why chance it? It's not hard to get a good credit score. If you open a basic student credit card account and make minimum payments on time for a year or so you'll probably have a score of around 700~. You have to be late an entire 30 days before a late payment is reported on your credit report (though banks may increase your interest rate if you're consistently late). You don't even really have to worry about paying off the balance in full each month--though it is good advice to help avoid overspending--as long as you pay down the balance to lower your utilization around a month or so before you apply for credit, as far as your credit score is concerned you're in the exact same position as a person who paid the card off in full each month. If you get a card from your current bank, you can link your credit card and debit card with online banking. Meaning you log into online banking and you'll see both accounts. You can see your credit card minimum payment and due date and transfer whatever amount you want from your debit account to your credit card to make a payment. It only takes a few seconds. Most banks even have features where they will text or email you notice that you have a payment coming up. There's really no hassle at all, it's not much more than a 30 second commitment once a month. As far as rent goes, rent generally doesn't show up on your credit report unless you were missing payments and your landlord took you to the tenancy board and got a judgement against you. Cell phone bills are reported on your credit report, but they don't really help to establish credit--they mostly just hurt you if you miss payments. Utilities like cable/internet/house phone won't show up unless they go to collections. Some cities will also send things like unpaid parking tickets to a collection agency too. Not having a credit card doesn't necessarily mean you have no credit. My girlfriend did a number on her credit score by making a bunch of late cellphone payments during undergrad for example If you want to verify whether you have (or don't have) a credit history you can get a free credit check from Borrowell (Equifax score) or CreditKarma (a Transunion based score). Borrowell updates your score automatically once a month and CreditKarma does it weekly. They're VERY useful.  
    • Waitlisted on May 10. LSAT: 154 Cgpa: 77% (UBC) and 3.01 (OLSAS calculated) due to a bad first year. L2: 88% and L3: 85% (UBC) Excellent EC's and work experience. I'm assuming references were strong.
    • Accepted about a week ago. LSAT: 154 Cgpa: 77% (UBC) and 3.01 (OLSAS calculated) due to a bad first year. L2: 88% and L3: 85% (UBC) Excellent EC's and work experience. I'm assuming references were strong.
    • Congrats! Double congrats for u! Did you get an email or check on website?
×