The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Research Grant Program funds research on a wide variety of topics related to the mission of LSAC. Specifically included in the program’s scope are projects investigating precursors to legal training, selection into law schools, legal education, and the legal profession. To be eligible for funding, a research project must inform either the process of selecting law students or legal education itself in a demonstrable way. Projects will be funded for amounts up to $200,000.
The program welcomes proposals for research proceeding from any of a variety of methodologies, a potentially broad range of topics, and varying time frames. Proposals will be judged on the importance of the questions addressed, their relevance to the mission of LSAC, the quality of the research designs, and the capacity of the researchers to carry out the project. Eligible investigators need not be members of law school faculties. Proposals from interdisciplinary teams of law faculty and researchers from outside law schools are strongly encouraged.
LSAC’s membership includes law schools in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Comparative proposals about topics outside the United States, Canada, and Australia are welcome, but they must include some explicit connection to legal education or the legal profession within those countries.
A meritorious project could be informed by any disciplinary perspective and be guided by any of a variety of methodologies. Applicants may use methodologies derived from many disciplines, including anthropology, criminology, demography, economics, history, political science, psychology, and sociology. Projects may be qualitative or quantitative, cross-sectional or longitudinal. They may involve any of a variety of research techniques such as surveys, experiments, correlational methods, systematic observations, and ethnography. The program, however, requires that any project that is funded be planned and conducted in accordance with the best social scientific standards that are applicable to the type of research in question.
Some types of projects are not eligible for funding under this research grant program. Examples of projects that would NOT be funded include doctrinal studies (e.g., investigations into points of substantive law), curriculum development or evaluation for a particular law school, preparation of casebooks, and other course-specific material. Others include projects that do not meet the criteria stated above, for example, evaluation of programs by the program administrators or researchers at the host law school, projects with an international focus that do not include or directly relate to LSAC member-school countries, projects whose conclusions would be too narrow to inform LSAC’s broad membership, and studies that do not have a demonstrable relationship to LSAC’s mission.
Possible topics can address a broad range of issues. Although the program welcomes research on a variety of topics, three topics are of particular interest.
- Research on Pipeline Issues and Access to Law Schools for Minority Populations
- Research on Access to Law School for Students with Disabilities
- Research on Law School Academic Assistance Programs
Who Is Eligible to Apply
The program is open to applicants from all countries. Principal investigators need not be based in law schools; proposals are welcome from social, behavioral, and educational researchers of all kinds. The Grants Subcommittee encourages collaborations between those who know legal education most intimately (i.e., legal educators and administrators) and those who know most about how to design and conduct empirical research.
Grants must be made to an institution or organization, not to individuals. Entities outside the United States, Canada, and Australia are encouraged to collaborate with an institution within those countries to satisfy issues such as concern about humans as research subjects (e.g., institutional review boards).
Not eligible to receive grants from this program are members of the LSAC Board of Trustees, members of the LSAC Test Development and Research Committee or its Grants Subcommittee, and persons who had been members of one or more of those bodies within one year prior to applying for a grant.
Proposals should include the following sections: cover sheet, summary, project description (problem statement, literature review, and research methods), work plan and timetable, dissemination plan, budget, curriculum vitae, and supporting documents. The proposal should be double-spaced and printed in a font not smaller than 12-point. Here is a list of what you should include in your proposal.
Submit two hard copies plus an electronic copy in PDF format.
Law School Admission Council
662 Penn Street
PO BOX 40
Newtown, PA 18940-0040
There are two reviewing cycles each year. The deadlines are September 1 and February 1. Decisions on proposals are expected to be made within three to four months following those deadlines.
If the proposer’s usual accounting practices provide that its contributions to employee benefits (Social Security, retirement, other payroll-related taxes, and time off—including vacation, sick days, and other leave) be treated as direct costs, LSAC grant funds may be requested to fund fringe benefits as a direct cost. These funds are typically determined by application of a standard fringe-benefit rate to the salaries and wages requested.
LSAC will include a faculty salary budget component only if the faculty member’s home institution has granted release time for the project, and only to the extent that the amount of release time granted is appropriate to the project. For summer salaries, LSAC will approve a maximum amount of two ninths (2/9) of the faculty member’s nine-month salary.
LSAC’s expectation is that its grant funds will be used to produce valuable research of high quality, which will be published in an appropriate journal or book. Progress reports will be required of those projects planned to run for longer than one year.
The Review Process
The Grants Subcommittee consists of law faculty or administrators and social science researchers. If the proposal appears to require expertise that is not represented on the committee, it will also be reviewed by specialist reviewers outside of the committee.
Proposals will be judged on the importance of the questions addressed and the quality of their research designs.
NOTE: This program is not used to fund legal education tuition. It is for researchers only. For more information about the Research Grant Program, call Ann Gallagher at 215.968.1258.