LSAT changes after lawsuit says test discriminates against the blind

NEWTON, Pa. — A man in Michigan has won a legal settlement that will change the test all prospective lawyers take to get into law school.

Angelo Binno said he felt called to be a lawyer since he was in middle school. Chasing that dream, he took the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) nine years ago.

But, being blind, he was tripped up by the analytical reasoning, or “logic games” section, which often requires test-takers to draw out diagrams in order to discern the answers to the questions. “I knew I was walking in to fail,” Binno, 37, told CNN on Thursday. “Your hopes and dreams of going to law school are based on drawing a picture.”

After eight years and multiple court battles, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), which administers the LSAT, has announced a settlement on Monday with him and a fellow plaintiff.

Logic games are going away for everyone.

He wanted to change the test

The LSAT is the primary standardized test used for law school admissions in the U.S., Canada and a number of other countries. LSAC administered about 130,000 tests in the U.S. and Canada during the 2017-18 testing cycle.

Besides the logic games section, the LSAT also includes other sections for logical reasoning, reading comprehension, and a writing sample.

Existing accommodations for blind test takers included the use of screen-reading software, braille exam forms and the use of a braille writer or braille graphics and figures.

Binno’s attorney, Jason Turkish, told CNN those are great accommodations for the other test sections, but they don’t make passing the logic games section any more possible. “You can give him all the time in the world, he still can’t draw a diagram,” Turkish said.

The settlement will help prospective lawyers nationwide

The admissions council says it’s going to get rid of the current logic games section and test analytical reasoning in other ways. The organization will research how to improve accessibility for all test takers and release a new version of the test within four years, according to the terms of the settlement.

“Diversity and equal opportunity are vital in legal education and the legal profession,” Kellye Testy, the CEO of LSAC, said in a statement. She added that “LSAC is committed to ensuring that disabled individuals can take our exam in an accessible place and manner, that the LSAT is fair for all test takers, and that we support everyone interested in pursuing law school.”

Over the next four years, LSAC says it’ll phase out the logic games and unveil a new analytical reasoning section.

A new generation of blind lawyers

Turkish took up the lawsuit in part because he is also legally blind, though he has more functional eyesight than his client. He said the settlement could help create “the next generation of blind lawyers.”

He said that over nearly a decade of legal challenge, he was moved by Binno’s tenacity, and excited to see what his client would accomplish. “We need to have lawyers who reflect society,” he said. “Angelo is the person who will take up the next challenge for blind people.”

After years of deferring his dream, Binno is ready to take a new version of the LSAT and start law school, so that others won’t have to put their own hopes on hold.

“I never wanted this to be just about me,” he said. “It’s about changing the rule for the whole country.”

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