In brief: The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has decided to go digital with the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Administrators have partnered with Microsoft to bring the exam exclusively to the Surface Go. The LSAC announced on Monday that it would begin transitioning to the new format starting in July of 2019.
Microsoft has not only committed to bringing the LSAT to its Surface Go tablets but also to making administration and the whole law school admission process more efficient with infrastructure support.
“Legal education and the legal profession need to keep pace with technological advancements,” said LSAC President and CEO Kellye Testy. “With the breadth of their solutions and their commitment to privacy, security, accessibility, and inclusion, Microsoft will be a tremendous help to the legal education community as we navigate these accelerating changes.”
The deal includes the LSAC purchasing an undisclosed number of tablets, but there is a lot more to going digital than just buying the equipment. Administrators are going to have to be retrained on how to give the test. The transition will also require some infrastructure alterations.
"There are clear and profound opportunities for the legal profession to use data and digital technology to support its timeless and important role in society. Microsoft is excited to partner with the LSAC on its digital transformation."
Neither Microsoft nor LSAC commented on the financials of the deal. The press release said the council would be purchasing thousands of Surface Go tablets, but stopped short of getting into specifics.
The LSAT currently costs about $190 to take. It is unclear whether the switch to digital will increase costs for students due to the initial investment in equipment and infrastructure, or decrease it due to the long-term savings in materials and printing costs.
“We evaluate the fees annually because we’re working to help candidates be able to apply and not be pushed out due to raised fees,” said Testy. “The cost is still in flux because we’re reevaluating the number of students applying to law school every year.”
The Surface Go was not the only tablet considered. The LSAC also looked at iPads but decided the Apple devices at too locked into a proprietary system. Chromebooks were also examined but did not deliver the level of quality the organization had in mind.
The choice to go with the Microsoft devices is a big win for Redmond. Surface Go tablets for enterprise operations start at $450. Couple the “thousands” in immediate sales with the infrastructure services that the company will provide, and Microsoft is looking at a pretty decent bottom line.