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What Does the LSAT Have To Do With Being a Lawyer?

This article is especially helpful for all those who need to register for the LSAT this October to be able to sit for the December 2, 2017 LSAT!

Every lawyer needs to know two things: The law and how to think like a lawyer.  While law school may be the beginning of learning the law, for many people, studying for the LSAT is the beginning of learning how to think like a lawyer: critically, logically, and linearly.  Perhaps it is self-evident that lawyers need to know the law, but why, you might ask, does everyone in the court have to think like a lawyer?  Maybe the problem with the justice system is that there are too many lawyer-types?  Maybe the courtroom needs more heart, more feeling, more common sense folks or more people that think outside the box?  I agree that compassion, common sense, and creative thinking are great qualities that will help you be a unique and outstanding lawyer.   I’m even open to the idea that there are many skills aside from critical thinking that are more indicative of your future financial or professional success.  However, the efficiency and accuracy of the justice system requires that the lawyers who move the system know how to think like the LSAT.

Attorneys achieve efficiency in legal practice not only by knowing the law and the facts of their case, but also by isolating the relevant laws and facts at issue.  Lawyers are efficient in their own practice when they can quickly isolate the relevant facts that they need to research or investigate and not waste time on irrelevant inquiries.  Likewise, the justice system expects lawyers to be efficient in order to ensure that the court focuses its time litigating relevant issues.  Although the constitution allows a defendant to challenge the legality of an arrest or search in any criminal case, lawyers are expected to bring such motions only when they have legal merit and not just because the law allows it.  Similarly, the main skill tested in the logical reasoning section of the LSAT is the ability to separate relevant from irrelevant information.  Often times, logical reasoning problems are small arguments full of irrelevant information.  In order to get the correct answer, the student must isolate the relevant portions of the argument from the verbal fluff.  The LSAT will include irrelevant information in order to plant seeds for incorrect answer choices and in an attempt to distract the student from the correct answer.  Those students who  can isolate the relevant portions of the argument will not only do well on the LSAT, but they will ultimately become the lawyers that keep their own practice running efficiently and keep the legal system on track with focused arguments that address relevant issues.

Accuracy in the court room is achieved when lawyers can make linear arguments – correctly comparing the facts of their case to the law, drawing analogies to previous cases and identifying when opposing counsel is making fallacious arguments.  In fact, these are the exact skills tested on the logical reasoning portion of the LSAT, and the accuracy of the court depends on it.  If an opposing counsel makes a fallacious argument and you are not able to pick up on the fallacy, that counsel may cause the court to come to the wrong conclusion.  In such a case you have not only failed your client, but also diminish the accuracy of the legal system.  By mastering LSAT logic, you can help assure that the law is applied correctly and fairly to all.

The reading comprehension and logic game sections are also very connected to your legal practice.  Although this may seem obvious, as most people are aware that law practices involve reading and absorbing large amounts of information, even the style of passages on the LSAT resemble the type of documents you are expected to read.  The passages are not prose, poetry or dialogue.  Rather, they are structured similarly to case law and scholarly scientific works which often have a bearing on the facts of a case.  Just like case law, the reading comprehension passages always present a novel main idea, often contain a summary or background of the information culled on the subject thus far and generally follow a basic paragraph structure containing a topic sentence and supporting sentences.

Logic games test your ability to organize information as well as your ability to hold and manipulate rules in your mind.  Again, this is a major skill in legal practice.  Imagine a situation in which your client must choose a certain course of action (i.e. file for bankruptcy, litigate or settle, merge corporations), with each choice triggering certain legal consequences.  In order to properly advise your client on the best course of action, you must be able to hold in your mind all the possible scenarios, the consequences that will result from each potential course of action along with how each decision creates a new legal reality.  This essential skill is tested by logic games.

Don’t think of the LSAT as a test designed to weed out those who should and should not practice law.  Instead, think of it as the beginning of your legal training for how to think like a lawyer.  A person can learn how to score well on the LSAT.  Sure, there is an aptitude component.  Just like in sports, the best player on your soccer team is probably a naturally good athlete, but it is probably also not her first time playing soccer either.  And in the long run, I think hard work goes further than natural ability.  So, consider studying for the LSAT as an essential part of your legal education and take the time to learn how to think like the LSAT.  Not only will this help you score well on the LSAT, but the skills you acquire studying for the LSAT will pay dividends in law school and in perfecting your legal practice.

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