Diversity Management, Professional Legal Management
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) seeks an experienced, engaging, and inspiring leader to serve as its next Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). LSAC is a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting quality, access, and equity in law and education worldwide by supporting individuals’ enrollment journeys and providing preeminent assessment, data, and technology services. LSAC closely collaborates with its over 200 member law schools, the American Bar Association, Association of American Law Schools, National Association for Law Placement, and other organizations that share LSAC’s mission. The Chief Diversity Officer will be joining LSAC at a challenging and exciting moment in legal education and at a pivotal period for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the legal profession. The next CDO will help shape the future of LSAC, of law and education, and of access to justice in America.
At the core of LSAC’s products and services is an ongoing commitment to expanding educational opportunities and building a more just and prosperous world. For over 70 years, LSAC has developed and administered the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) which was created to promote access, eliminate bias, and reward potential not privilege. Among LSAC’s other products and services, DEI initiatives such as Discover Law help students from underrepresented groups find pathways into the legal profession.
Especially important in these times of heightened awareness of racial injustice and systemic racism that impedes the aspirations of individual students and their communities, DEI programs at LSAC are mission-critical and highly valued by LSAC’s members, leadership, and governing body. The CDO oversees LSAC’s DEI programs and will work closely with other LSAC professionals, law school administrators, higher education experts, and leaders of the bench and bar to eliminate the barriers to access to the legal profession and increase the number of qualified attorneys and other legal professionals in underserved communities; the next CDO needs to keep their focus accordingly and enlist others in that worthy endeavor.
The successful candidate will convincingly demonstrate a strong commitment to DEI work, a deep understanding of higher education admission policies, particularly at the graduate and professional school level, a track-record of achievement as an administrator and leader, and the ability and aptitude to engage all stakeholders in a common and challenging enterprise. LSAC is seeking both a problem-solver and a visionary leader who can inspire others to innovate and reach beyond today’s problems to create a better future.
In preparing for this search, LSAC has consulted intentionally and extensively with its members, governing board, staff, and other leaders in legal education and practice, to determine the opportunities and challenges that await the next CDO, and the qualifications that are necessary to prepare the CDO for this critical role. LSAC’s CEO, Kellye Testy, who will be the decision-maker in selecting the next CDO, has appointed an advisory search committee of accomplished legal educators and practitioners, each of whom has dedicated years of service and thought leadership in the pursuit of DEI for the legal profession; the committee will be co-chaired by Dean Marcilynn Burke of the University of Oregon’s College of Law and Assistant Dean Michael States of the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, both of whom are members of LSAC’s governing board. LSAC has engaged Isaacson, Miller to assist with this search; inquiries, nominations, and applications concerning this position should be made in the manner set forth at the end of this document.
Headquartered in Newtown, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles north of Philadelphia, LSAC is the hub for law school candidates, law schools, and the prelaw community in nurturing an ethical and equitable ecosystem for law school enrollment. All law schools approved by the American Bar Association are LSAC members. Fifteen Canadian law schools recognized by a provincial or territorial law society or government agency are also included in the voting membership of the Council, as is one law school in Australia. LSAC employs about 350 dedicated and talented full-time staff members.
With the guidance and support of volunteers representing its member schools, LSAC currently provides a growing number of critical services and programs for law schools and their applicants. These services include those that support the admission process (candidate referral, credential assembly, recruiting events, admission management software, data collection, assessment tools), as well as significant programs devoted to expanding access by improving the legal education pipeline for prospective students of diverse backgrounds. At the core of each service is an ongoing commitment to expanding educational opportunities for underrepresented groups, educationally disadvantaged persons, and people with disabilities. In addition, LSAC has a number of international initiatives, including special versions of the LSAT for use in India and China, and Spanish-language translation of the LSAT for use by Puerto Rican law schools.
LSAC SERVICES AND PRODUCTS
The Law School Admission Test is an integral part of law school admission in the United States, Canada, and a growing number of other countries. The test helps law schools make sound admission decisions by assessing critical reading, reasoning, and writing skills. The LSAT is the only standardized test accepted by all ABA-accredited law schools in the United States and the only test designed and validated for law school admission. Each year over 100,000 potential law school applicants worldwide take the LSAT and over 98% of successful law school applicants include an LSAT score as part of their application.
LSAT Prep. LSAC has teamed up with Khan Academy to provide free “Official LSAT Prep.” Users create a personalized practice plan and build their skills with interactive lessons and official practice questions from actual LSATs. LSAC also provides free and inexpensive “Official LSAT Prep” resources itself through LawHub at LSAC.org.
The Credential Assembly Service streamlines law school admission by allowing applicants to have all transcripts and recommendations sent only once to LSAC. LSAC summarizes and combines that information with LSAT scores and writing samples into a report that is sent upon request to the law schools to which the applicant applies. The applicant’s fee for this service also covers electronic application processing for all ABA-approved law schools as well as transcript authentication and evaluation for applicants educated outside the U.S. ABA-approved law schools and many other law schools require the use of the Credential Assembly Service for JD applicants and many schools also use this service for their LLM and master’s programs. LSAC’s essential admission office software provides seamless data exchange with its member schools and is the only platform designed for law school enrollment.
The LLM Credential Assembly Service simplifies the application process for internationally educated applicants who have a first degree in law and wish to continue their legal studies at the graduate level in the US. By creating an LSAC account, LLM candidates can arrange to have official transcripts and English proficiency scores (if necessary) sent just once to LSAC to be included in a report to all participating schools to which they apply. Transcript authentication and evaluation is done in partnership with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).
The LSAC Ambassadors Program. The LSAC Ambassadors are trained experts in law school admission matters. Through educational presentations and professional consultations, LSAC Ambassadors provide both law school candidates and legal education professionals with encouragement, current information, and instruction on how to utilize the vast array of tools available on LSAC.org. LSAC Ambassadors welcome invitations to present or table at events targeted to prospective students, candidates, and legal education professionals.
The Candidate Referral Service (CRS) makes it possible for law school candidates to provide information about themselves that will make it easy for law schools to recruit them. Law schools may seek out potential applicants on the basis of specific characteristics such as undergraduate major, ethnicity, law school preferences, and other variables. Candidates who establish an LSAC.org account for any purpose may authorize release of their information to participating law schools, agencies, or individuals working on the law school’s behalf, and other eligible programs related to legal education. Many potential applicants are recruited by law schools they might not otherwise have considered.
Law School Forums. Prospective law students nationwide receive an open invitation to meet with representatives of LSAC-member law schools at one- or two-day forums held online and in cities throughout the United States each year. Typically, attendees may spend anywhere from a few hours to an entire day at a forum. Whether held digitally or in person, the forums provide an opportunity for candidates to meet law school representatives, get answers to their questions, and participate in workshops on topics such as the LSAT, the application process, diversity, and more.
LSAC’S COMMITMENT TO ACCCESS, DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
The Law School Admission Council is committed to the philosophy that the legal profession should reflect the ever-increasing diversity of American society. Because of this firm belief, LSAC makes resources available to advocate for and promote broad-based diversity in legal education and the legal profession.
Through these efforts, LSAC seeks to ensure that legal education and the profession are as inclusive as possible, and that the justice system reflects all who interact with it.
LSAC’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in legal education and the legal profession has deep and early roots. As early as 1950, LSAC has supported and funded conferences, workshops, and pipeline programming. In 1968, LSAC founded the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) with AALS, the ABA, and the National Minority Bar Associations to address the underrepresentation of marginalized groups in the legal profession. Today, LSAC continues its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts through various programming and initiatives including the Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars Program (PLUS) and Khan Academy, which makes LSAT preparation free and accessible to all.
In line with its mission to promote quality, access, and equity in legal education, LSAC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) supports candidates, law schools, and the prelaw community to increase diversity in the pipeline. To help improve access to legal education, LSAC has invested millions of dollars in targeted DEI programming. Additionally, LSAC lends its name and resources in other ways that may provide no budgetary impact but do serve to further our mission, including millions of dollars spent annually in fee waivers, providing testing materials to minority-serving groups, and hosting meetings and workshops to strengthen the professional development of law school admission staff. As reflected in the budget, DEI is primarily focused on minoritized candidates who face historical, social, political, economic, and educational barriers that constrict them. This is accomplished by awarding targeted grants for well-planned and impactful projects; conducting training workshops for diversity officers and law school academic faculty and staff; sponsoring educational programs at law school forums and recruitment events; collaborating with bar and education associations, as well as community organizations with the mission of increasing opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds. Moving forward, it is LSAC’s vision and mission to develop innovative programs and initiatives while maintaining partnerships with stable, long-term programs proven to deliver impact.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
The Chief Diversity Officer reports to LSAC’s president and is responsible for administering the budget and directing the work of seven staff members. The CDO oversees a unit that is tasked with designing, executing, and assessing LSAC’s DEI programs in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. LSAC’s DEI programs focus on candidates who historically face barriers due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, socio-economic status, education, and physical or mental disabilities. LSAC’s CDO will support law candidates, admissions professionals, law schools, and prelaw advisors to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal academy and profession. The success of the next CDO will be determined by how well they meet the following opportunities and challenges.
Develop and execute a diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plan to deliver exceptional services, programs, and training to LSAC constituencies In a transformational and transitional moment in history – for higher education, the nation, and world – the CDO has the unparalleled opportunity to build on the current sense of urgency to dismantle systemic racism and galvanize widespread support and engagement for DEI initiatives. Specifically, the CDO will focus on increasing enrollment of underrepresented students and improve and expand LSAC’s DEI initiatives. To achieve such a vision, the CDO will immediately develop a comprehensive DEI strategic plan which aligns with LSAC’s overarching mission. A successful DEI strategic plan should not only articulate where LSAC is today and where it should be in the future, but must also specifically outline pipeline goals, partnership objectives, and identify metrics to gauge the impact of LSAC’s DEI efforts. To ensure success and relevance the CDO will develop this strategic plan after extensive consultation with, and careful listening to, all LSAC constituents. While not required, a strong familiarity with legal education and the issues facing law schools today will help in understanding how to stimulate important professional discussions, pose challenging questions, and offer insightful solutions on complex topics in order to achieve LSAC’s DEI aspirations.
Empower LSAC partners through research, collaboration and coordination The CDO will position LSAC’s Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion as a leading voice and center of research, collaboration, and reporting, which drives significant change and provides advocacy and resources to enable its partners to succeed. They will motivate, educate, coordinate, and capitalize on current DEI momentum, and serve as the LSAC’s guiding voice on DEI-related matters. As an agent of organizational change, the CDO will focus on the empowerment of others to identify and assess needs, and implement plans of action, both internally and externally. The CDO will inspire and galvanize others and engage them in the common endeavor of DEI work, which necessarily comprises multiple, complex and inter-related elements.
In particular, the CDO will be a trusted, collaborative partner who can effectively engage with law school deans, admission officers, academic and student affairs leaders, prelaw advisors, and allies, while understanding the context of LSAC’s mission and strategic priorities. The CDO will form strong partnerships with law school diversity officers to help bring clarity and consistency to their roles, as well as provide the diversity officers with necessary resources and support, including trainings, best practices and data. This work also requires a deepening of collaborative partnerships with other units with expertise that can and should be leveraged. Thus, it is imperative to the success of this position that key stakeholders across the law school admissions landscape view this individual as a knowledgeable partner, excellent interpersonal communicator, and supportive colleague.
The CDO should also serve as LSAC’s leading voice on DEI issues to an external audience, providing thought leadership to the broader field. This person should remain active in the research and discussions on DEI in legal education and the profession.
Strengthen and expand initiatives to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds Working with advisors and admission professionals around the nation, the CDO will directly address the recruitment, retention, and placement of law students from diverse backgrounds by continuing to support and revising ongoing admissions pipeline programs and examining post-graduation career employment systems. They will unite key on-campus constituents to help them understand and address concerns within the campus climate which advance retention and accelerate post-degree employment. This will include sharing best practices in student support services for welcoming and belonging orientation programs, availability of mental health services, opportunity for mentoring programs and financial assistance. Additionally, the CDO will work with law school career services departments, law firms and other employers’ hiring units to identify and eradicate barriers which hinder employment of marginalized law graduates, as well promote best practices in hiring them.
Assess and evaluate LSAC’s DEI initiatives and their impact The CDO will lead the design and implementation of systems to assess the progress toward LSAC’s DEI goals. As a data-driven leader, they will collaborate with appropriate stakeholders to establish systems that illuminate the most important data points. The CDO will share knowledge of how institutional data can be used to benchmark progress and promote accountability across various initiatives. They will report these results to constituents and use these results as progress indicators, producing an annual report which includes a “performance vs plan” variance analysis.
Furthermore, the CDO must review past outcomes of pipeline programs delivered by LSAC and its partners to ensure LSAC funding is being allocated successfully and responsibly. In recognition of finite resources due to COVID-19 realities, it is essential that LSAC strategically disperse its resources to existing and new programs which have desired outcomes. The CDO will lead a DEI program and initiative evaluation process to help LSAC leadership identify the most successful avenues for future financial and personnel support.
Develop communication vehicles to share DEI-related information A communication plan is essential to inform and distribute DEI-related information to LSAC staff, network members, and partners. Intentional, frequent communication with LSAC staff and the legal community about contemporary ideas, methodologies, tools, and technologies to advance DEI work serves all stakeholders and is best centered at LSAC. The CDO will share DEI news and best practices through many channels including, but not limited to, LSAC Town Halls, LSAC.org, annual reports, media, and speaking engagements. Improved information-sharing will help in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the legal profession and strengthen connections between LSAC and its many constituents.
QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE
While no one candidate will embody every quality, the successful candidate will bring many of the following professional qualifications and personal attributes to the position:
A JD or its equivalent, or an advanced degree in business, management, higher education administration, or an equivalent combination of education and experience;
A deep understanding of the challenges facing legal education and the profession today and experience in crafting solutions to meet these challenges;
An ability to articulate a clear, creative, and compelling vision for legal education;
A deep, demonstrable commitment to and proven track record of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the broadest sense;
Experience working in an accredited law school in the US or Canada and familiarity with legal education issues (including law school admissions);
Substantial, high-level management experience, including personnel and financial management;
Demonstrated experience in an academic community as a faculty member or administrator; or work experiences that demonstrate an understanding of and effectiveness in working on DEI issues within a complex higher education institutional setting;
Understanding of the law school applicant experience. Experience in student development/mentoring field;
A strategic, collaborative leadership style that can build positive relationships with a wide range of constituencies and stakeholders;
Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including the ability to exercise a high degree of diplomacy and discretion;
Proven ability to inspire and influence others;
Analytical skills and a data-informed focus; ability to use data and leverage analytics to drive strategy;
Extensive knowledge of and credibility with inclusion, diversity and equity practices sufficient to participate in conversations at the highest levels of LSAC and with constituents beyond the organization such as deans, on-campus diversity officers, pre-law advisors, law school candidates, community groups, and national organizations; thought-leadership on DEI issues;
Tireless commitment to sustaining the mission of an organization with an ability to identify, relate to, and motivate law school volunteers and staff in an effective manner;
Authenticity, gravitas and respect among peers;
Understanding how to make a compelling case for DEI programs from an economic point of view; understanding the budget constraints facing law schools; and
Legal practice within law firms, public law entities, and government settings are also important experiences along with law schools.
Applications, which should include a resume or curriculum vitae and a letter of interest, should be sent electronically to www.imsearch.com/7613. The application process will begin immediately and will remain open until the position has been filled; applicants are urged to submit their materials no later than December 1, 2020. Inquiries and nominations should also be directed to the same web address.
LSAC takes great pride in its dedication of being an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, and welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, including minorities, women, and people who are disabled.
About Law School Admission Council
LSAC is a not-for-profit corporation devoted to promoting and furthering the quality, access, and fairness of the law school admission process by providing core products and services to law school candidates and law schools in the United States and throughout the world. LSAC’s mission is to promote quality, access, and equity in law and education worldwide by supporting individuals’ enrollment journeys and providing pre-eminent assessment, data, and technology services.