Alex Johnson ’75, LSAC Chair, To Discuss Views On Law School Admissions

The Law School Admission Council administered 107,000 Law School Admission Tests (LSATs) last year. And Alex Johnson ’75 supervised each and every one.

Well, perhaps not directly – but as chairman of the Law School Admission Council’s Board of Trustees, Johnson’s two-year volunteer position provides an opportunity for him to be front and center in the debate over affirmative action and the use of LSAT scores in the admission process.

He’ll discuss his views on law school admissions when he visits the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum on Tuesday, March 5. The lecture is free and open to the public on a first-come basis. For information and dinner reservations visit www.claremontmckenna.edu/mmca or call extension 18244 or 621-8244.

Johnson believes the LSAT, purely a skills test, should play only a partial role in the admissions process, alongside other factors including character, leadership, community service, undergraduate curriculum, life experience, and career interests. Yet he recognizes the importance of the test and says he disagrees with the assertion that the LSAT is biased against minorities. In an interview in the Chicago Tribune last fall, Johnson said, “the test is a great equalizer for minorities and others because it is one standardized metric we have to compare people across schools …. People can prove they can compete at the highest competitive level.”

Johnson himself has continually proven his ability to succeed at the highest level. After graduating from the UCLA School of Law he worked for Latham & Watkins, a prestigious Los Angeles law firm, and eventually moved into teaching and administration. He is a professor and vice provost at the University of Virginia School of Law.

According to Johnson, CMC “instilled in me a sense of honor and integrity, a strong work ethic, and intellectual curiosity.” He says his senior thesis (political theory and comparative politics) is kept on his office shelf as a reminder of his most rewarding undergraduate academic experience.

More than 25 years after leaving CMC, Johnson is remembered by his professors. “One of the best experiences of my teaching career,” recalled Professor Alan Heslop, “was having Alex Johnson as a student. He is, Heslop added, “just the sort of person who should be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.”