Bill Henderson (Indiana) comments on Michigan's new admissions policy observing that "an elite law school sets a new low in our obsession of form over substances." Blog Emperor Caron draws a similar conclusion, and notes that Georgetown is doing almost the same thing. The requirement of not taking the LSAT to be eligible for this program is indeed suspicious (Michigan imposes this requirement, it doesn't appear that Georgetown does, though they do waive the LSAT). I invite the Deans of Michigan and Georgetown to respond to the allegation that this is just a new 'low' in gaming the rankings. I will be happy to post their response, in its entirety, here. It is my hope that there are, in fact, sound academic rationales for this new admissions procedure.
UPDATE: The WSJ Law Blog quotes a partial response by the Michigan Admissions Dean. Unfortunately, it does not explain why students admitted under this process are required not to take the LSAT. It is, of course, the latter that raises the most questions about the actual purpose of this program. Without knowing the distribution of GPAs and LSATs in the Michigan class, we also have no way of knowing whether 10 students admitted under this program would or would not make a difference to the medians.
ONE MORE: A couple of readers have suggested a different explanation for requiring students with excellent grades not to take the LSAT, for it in effect "locks them in" to Michigan: for Harvard or Columbia or Chicago is not going to admit them without LSAT scores. So it operates, in effect, a bit like 'early decision' programs: a Michigan undergrad with the requisite grades commits to Michigan, and now doesn't have to bother with the LSAT. By the same token, Michigan locks in an excellent student, with a GPA that, according to the Michigan Admissions Dean (in the article linked above), they know bodes well for law school performance, without the risk that the student will end up opting for one of Michigan's peers or betters which requires the LSAT. Thought about this way, it seems to me other top schools with good undergraduate institutions ought to think about this--or even extend the concept: e.g., why not say that anyone with a 3.8 or a 3.7 or a 3.9 at any one of twenty colleges/universities is automatically admitted, provided they do not take the LSAT?