UDC Law 1L Matthew Kaplan Helps Overturn LSAC LSAT Discrimination!
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
UDC Law Student Helps Overturn Discrimination by Law School Admission Council: US DOJ Announces $7.73 Million Settlement and Dramatic Changes in Practice
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law student Matthew Kaplan’s challenge to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) practice of routine and systematic denial of disability accommodations and the “flagging” of LSAT-takers who obtained accommodations, played a key role in a settlement announced on May 20 by the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
For the US DOJ’s press release, go to:
Matthew Kaplan graduated from Oberlin College with excellent grades despite severe dyslexia, thanks in part to accommodations received for his disability based on extensive prior documentation. After working for several years as a Capitol Hill staffer, in 2011 he registered for the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT,) but was denied accommodations. He appealed the denial to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC,) assembling extensive background information documenting his disability with letters ranging from friends, to teachers to a barrage of professional evaluators and a letter from the Congresswoman he was working for, “in an attempt to remind LSAC of the law,” according to Kaplan.
“On the original request and the appeal, I was given only a pro forma denial that ignored 20 years of accommodations history without any explanation. In response, I filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice and when a suit against the LSAC in California court was removed to federal court, the Department of Justice took notice."
“At that point, the US Department of Justice moved to intervene in the case to enforce federal law and named 8 people in their motion, which was granted. After two years of wrangling, LSAC, DOJ, California and three plaintiffs represented by legal aid agreed to a settlement which now awaits court approval.”
Despite not having taken the LSAT, in light of his special circumstances including numerous other predictors of academic success, Matthew was admitted to UDC school of law and is now an exceptional student.
UDC Clarke School of Law Dean Shelley Broderick has said, “Matthew Kaplan refused to take the LSAT and submit to an unfair and illegal accommodation process. He took a stand that could have put his legal career on hold in refusing to take a test in a manner that he knew violated his and others’ rights. When we heard his story and reviewed his qualifications, we decided to admit Matthew even without the LSAT.”
“The LSAT is supposed to be a predictor of first year grades," Broderick continued, "but for students with disabilities who are denied reasonable accommodations, the test becomes a bar to entering the legal profession. As a law school founded on opening the legal profession to students traditionally under-represented at the bar, and one with a special emphasis on addressing educational disabilities for at-risk youth, we view this settlement as a victory not only for Matthew, but for numerous other students with disabilities, including other UDC Law students, who will make excellent attorneys.”
Mr. Kaplan said, “I owe UDC a debt of gratitude for giving me an opportunity to prove myself without the LSAT. The last several years have been tough and the decision not to take the LSAT until I was accommodated meant I couldn't attend law school until UDC accepted me. I was told that being accepted into law school without the LSAT was impossible, but I knew I couldn't take the test while LSAC was breaking the law. I see this as a victory for UDC because the School of Law took a risk on someone no other law school would consider. It’s a victory for UDC's mission of helping people from traditionally under represented groups become attorneys. The LSAC's corrupted role as the gatekeeper in preventing people with disabilities from becoming lawyers was struck a blow and in this victory, I want to share this moment with the School of Law for having the courage to help me make my dream of becoming a lawyer a reality.”