LSAT Extension Denied For Long Island Woman With Cognitive Disorder

Lisa Rousso: I Just Want Level Playing Field As I Pursue My Dream

FORT SALONGA, L.I. (CBS New York) — It’s down to the wire. With just three days left until the law school entrance exam a Long Island woman with special needs has been denied extra time to take Saturday’s test. In response she is filing a federal lawsuit.

Lisa Rousso wiped away tears as she spoke to CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan on Wednesday.

Rousso suffers from a cognitive disorder. She had planned to take the Law School Admissions Test, more commonly known as the LSAT, on Saturday.

“It’s something I’m very, very passionate about. I have to overcome this hurdle to do it”, said the 41-year old wife and mother of three.

Rousso’s disability stems from a brain lesion that was surgically removed six years ago. In an attempt to get more time to take the test Rousso provided the Law Council with medical documentation of her condition and the risky operation that she underwent to have the lesion removed.

“I’ve been working like crazy to prepare for this test between prep courses, studying on my own in the library, doing everything I can to be fully prepared,” she said. “What I asked for is basically extended time on the test. Due to the surgery, my processing speed is significantly slower.”

But just days ago the Law Council denied Rousso’s request on the grounds that “her condition would likely improve.”

Rousso said that without the additional three hours to take the test, she will not be able to handle all of the reading and writing, and that she will fail. Rousso has hired an attorney and the two have filed the suit.

If Rousso’s lawsuit is denied and she is not granted the extra time on Saturday, she is seeking a full $263 application refund from the LSAT council.

Ruosso claimed that she isn’t seeking a leg up; she simply wants a level playing field and a chance to realize her dream.

“I want to practice special ed law — it’s my background as a school psychologist. It’s what I did before I got sick. I want my children to see, when you work hard it pays off, that there is justice.”

A spokeswoman for the Admissions Council, which runs the LSAT, told CBS 2 that it does not comment on lawsuits.

Does Rousso deserve more time? Weigh in, in our comments section below…

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  • Holly

    What better person to champion the rights of special needs children than someone whose very own Civil Rights is being violated? ADA is set up to ensure equal access to education. Lisa is asking for equal access, granting her extra time would be in essence leveling the field… another person who has not had a brain lesion doesn’t require the extra time to complete the LSAT. It’s not a matter of fairness, it’s a matter of equality.

  • Rbrat

    Rousso is only asking for additional time. Clearly, she knows the material and is qualified to attend law school. Prior to her illness, she was a school psychologist. She wants to use her personal experience and her education to help others with disabilities. I think she should be applauded for putting herself out there and her willingness to do whatever it takes to pursue her dream.

  • crazymama

    She may very well be given extra time… daughter had an attorney with turrets and sometimes things took bit longer in front of the judge, or just in conversations with his ticks. NOBODY ever worried about it or seemed to mind it. By the way, he was one the BEST attorneys I’ve seen.

  • crazymama

    Based on Americans with Disabilities Act she is entitled to the extra time. As for billing……..Iots of lawyers charge flat fees so I wouldn’t worry about the “hourly” rate…for heavens sake, she hasn’t even been accepted to a law school. This is about her being allowed extra time, not what her billing practices will be. That would be up to her and her future potential clients.

  • Don Juan

    I am concerned that if she becomes an attorney, she would bill her clients higher fees because she would need extra time to prepare her cases. Therefore, I am reluctant to grant her the extra time.

  • Ali

    I think she should be given the extra time. I am currently applying to law schools and I suggest that if it is her dream that she take the test, regardless of the extension. Make sure to fill in an answer for every question (stick with the same letter when you guess…when 5 minuets are left fill in every question). If her score is low, there is the opportunity to discuss the reasons for the score on each application. I’m sure law schools will take her situation into consideration.

    To Don’s comment: law school is preparation for the practice of law–which exists in many forms beyond the courtroom. Her ability to follow her dream shouldn’t be stopped because of “no forgiveness”. Luckily, there are more parts to the the application process than the LSAT. I think her taking the test and getting a low score will provide great content for a strong personal statement about perseverance. If her goal is to enter the law to help children, a test shouldn’t stop that. Especially, since the test contains no of the material taught in law school, nor is it indicative of how everyone will perform academically in law school.

    To Ruosso: DO NOT GET A REFUND!!! Take the test and do your best. Everything will work out. Good luck on Saturday! You’ve worked too hard to let this test–which is not the full measure of you– stop your dream!

  • Don

    No I believe that the LSAT is an entrance exam and should be applied to all under the same standard. If she is given the extra three hours, then will she be given extra time in a real court? Its sad, but in the real world, there are no forgiveness in that everyone is based on equal footing with no leeway for special conditions.

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