It may soon become a bit easier to get into law school in Hawaii.
No, the William S. Richardson School of Law is not lowering it's standards. But it has plans to soon allow applicants skip the traditional law school entrance exam and instead submit their GRE scores to the admissions board.
In days past, in order to get into the William S. Richardson School of Law, applicants would need an undergraduate degree and requisite scores from the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, along with two letters of recommendation, a professional statement, and a resume.
Starting this year, under a one year pilot project that's reflective of others happening across the coutnry, the school will also accept the Graduate Record Examinations test score.
"The good thing about the GRE is that more students actually take the GRE than the LSAT," said Ronette Kawakami, the law school's Associate Dean for Student Services. "The GRE is offered more times per year, so you have a bigger pool of students."
Loreto Coloma, Jr. is the school's acting Admissions Director. He says in addition to expanding access to a legal education, some applicants may have already taken the GRE for other degree programs.
"So it's likely that there are students who had an interest in law as well, who have a GRE score, but they've been deterred by the LSAT."
Over the last 5 years, enrollment at Richardson has fluctuated. In the Fall of 2016 there were 65 fill-time JD students; a year later, there were 80. School officials hope the GRE will help foster consistency with enrollment numbers.
"We're hoping that there will be an increase, not only in enrollment, but an increase in applications." Kawakami said. "And it's not just the University of Hawaii, Harvard, Georgetown, the University of Arizona, and Northwestern are all accepting the GRE."
"Just the other day we had St. Johns College School of Law in New York started accepting it. We have Colombia, we have UCLA, they're kind of doing it internally," added Coloma, Jr.
Both exams test reading comprehension and logical reasoning, but the main difference is that the LSAT doesn't test your knowledge in subjects like math and verbal communications, while the GRE does.
"I thinks it's a more accurate representation, since it looks at more of a holistic picture of the students," said third-year law student Alyssa Kau, who's also is in charge of showing prospective students around the school.
"We were one of the first few schools that did a validity study within our own campus," Coloma, Jr. said. "It had a similar, if not better, reliability in terms of predicting first year GPA."
"I think, it's really going to be the norm." added Associate Dean Kawakami.
The UH William S. Richardson School of Law admissions process began October 1 for enrollment in both the day and evening programs for Fall 2018. School officials say it's still too early to tell if there's been an increase in applications.