Multiple studies have demonstrated that the LSAT has an economic, gender, and racial bias. It does not adequately predict how well women, low-income, and minority students perform in law school. This likely results from both the type of questions on the test and the cost-prohibitive nature of test preparation courses that disparately impact the poor and persons of color. Generally, the test works best in predicting first-year grades, but not much after that. It certainly does not correlate with professional achievement after law school. Consequently, many education activists view the LSAT (along with the SAT and other standardized tests) as an invalid component of law school admissions. Apparently, these activists have convinced some law schools to rethink the usefulness of the test.
Professor Brian Leiter (University of Chicago Law School) has a great blog that contains all of the latest "buzz" among law schools. Though it can have a gossipy feel at times, it nevertheless provides a wealth of information related to legal academia. Today, the Leiter blog reports that both Michigan and Illinois have abolished the LSAT requirement for certain classes of applicants. Under the Illinois program, in-state residents with a 3.0 GPA can bypass the LSAT. Michigan's policy allows in-state applicants with a 3.8 GPA to opt-out of the test.
I agree with Leiter who believes that the schools' discarding of the LSAT may have more to do with the infamous US News and World Report rankings than with progressive attitudes towards testing. Now the schools can admit students with high (or moderate) grades and relatively low LSAT scores -- but not include these lower scores in the calculation of the average LSAT of their entering classes. This could artificially inflate the schools' average test score and potentially improve their US News ranking. Regardless of the motivation, this move could potentially improve law school diversity efforts, particularly in Michigan, where race-based affirmative action is now illegal.