A young LSAT preparation service has taken to Kickstarter with plans to build a business based on giving their knowledge away, hoping to make law school more accessible to everyone in the process.
John Bennett, the project’s creator, has been working as an LSAT tutor for about six years through his company, Zen Of 180. Now he he says he wants to make himself obsolete by replacing traditional tutoring with smart, customized, and digital LSAT preparation tools that are free or a fraction of the cost of traditional prep methods.
“The LSAT market is tiny: $35 million a year,” Bennett told me. “Only about 100,000 people take the test, but it has a huge social implications.”
Today’s law students, he said, are not just tomorrow’s lawyers, but also tomorrow’s politicians, judges, and other positions of power and influence, and today that pool of the law-school bound is disproportionately pulling from those wealthy enough to afford top-notch tutoring.
If the Kickstarter is succesful, Bennett promises to work through detailed explanations of about 2,500 LSAT PrepTest questions. These answers and explanations are then posted online under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license, meaning that others can download, add to, and share the answers freely.
Zen of 180 has already posted about 400 answers (one example), but because the actual questions remain the intellectual property of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), they must be purchased separately.
Zen of 180 also hopes to merge its vision for more democratized law school access with a sustainable business model of selling premium features, such as video lessons and personalized practice sets that choose questions best suited to areas where students need improvement.
“We are for-profit, we do want to be sustainable,” Bennett told me, adding that those who worry about Zen of 180 changing its mind about releasing free answers have some legal protection. “The Creative Commons license means that even if we get bought out, that will always be free.”