Cathy Silak, dean of Concordia University School of Law in Boise, was celebrating today as the Boise law school received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association, allowing its graduates to take the bar exam in any state. She said the school’s first graduating class of 11 students includes nine who will take the bar in July; the first-year graduating class should total 27 by December. The fledgling law school opened in 2012 with an initial class of 75; it offers both full- and part-time programs, with full-time students typically graduating in three years and part-timers in four.
After the school didn’t win accreditation last August, a number of students left to enroll at the University of Idaho, which has second- and third-year law school programs in Boise; took leaves of absence; or dual-enrolled at Concordia and other schools, Silak said. With today’s news, some are now returning.
“We highly respect the ABA process,” said Silak, a former Idaho Supreme Court justice. “It’s just a very strict and exacting process. They did gather additional information from us in the fall.” That included sending visitors to the Boise campus, interviewing staff and examining operations and records. “While we had hoped for a somewhat earlier approval, nevertheless we feel that gaining this approval now is a significant milestone. … Of course we wanted to get the approval in time for our graduates to be able to sit for the bar, and we’ve done that.”
Provisional accreditation launches a five-year process in which additional data, including bar passage and graduate job placement rates, will be collected and evaluated before the school can gain full accreditation.
Silak said she hopes that now that Concordia is accredited, it can work more collaboratively with the U of I’s Boise program, which she called “our sister school;” students from the two laws schools already work together to staff the Street Law Clinic, a project of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association. “I received a very nice note from the associate dean there congratulating us today,” Silak said. She said the accreditation approval means students from the two programs may be able to cross-register for some classes. Said Silak, “It’s been a very exciting day.”