November 9, 2021

Concord Law School still the front-runner in online legal education

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — COVID-19 forced traditional colleges and universities to transform their teaching and learning methods to an online format. Concord Law School at Purdue University Global, however, did not skip a beat.

Concord was founded in 1998 as the nation’s first fully online law school, more than 20 years before schools switched to online learning in a matter of weeks due to the pandemic.

“Unlike campus-based law schools that have recently dipped their toe into the online waters, Concord’s program has been fully online, by design, from the get-go,” said Martin Pritikin, dean of Concord Law School. “The nature of law school does not require in-person interaction the way, for example, medical school does. The pandemic demonstrated that almost all the things lawyers do can be done remotely, such as conduct trials and taking depositions, so it makes sense that people would study to be lawyers remotely.”

pritikin-m Martin Pritikin Download image

Why students choose Concord

There have long been people who couldn’t fit a traditional legal education into their lives due to work or family care responsibilities, geography, physical disabilities, military service or other life circumstances. Concord students have even included those on active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Concord’s curriculum integrates research in distance learning and adult learning with best practices in legal education,” said Pritikin, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. “There is no inherent relationship between distance learning and quality of learning. We can track and analyze student performance data and use it to conduct targeted outreach to students in need or make adjustments to course content.”

Concord makes high-quality legal education affordable as well as accessible. Because Concord does not have to incur the costs of maintaining a physical campus, it is able to offer total program tuition under $50,000, which is approximately one-third the cost of traditional law schools.

About the program

Concord’s JD program exceeds many of the minimums required by the American Bar Association. Its program requires more total credits (92 vs. 83) and more total hours of study. The ABA mandates that a law school’s required curriculum include six credits of experiential learning; Concord’s required curriculum includes 18 such credits.

In 2020, Concord was granted full accreditation by the State Bar of California, becoming one of the first online law schools to achieve that milestone. The Committee of Bar Examiners deemed Concord to be in full compliance with the guidelines governing accredited law schools and, therefore, not required to have a period of provisional accreditation, as typically is the case for law schools seeking full accreditation. As a result of this accreditation, students in Concord’s JD program no longer have to take or pass California’s First-Year Law Students’ Exam.

Concord offers a variety of electives, including in growing fields such as cybersecurity law, risk management in health care and virtual law practice. It also offers practical training in areas like trial advocacy and alternative dispute resolution, and offers an externship program through which students can earn academic credit for working in a law firm or other professional setting.

According to national survey data, Concord graduates rated their law school experience more favorably than traditional law students on a variety of metrics. These include preparation for critical thinking, legal research and writing, and ethical practice; class participation; quality of relationships with faculty; prompt feedback on assignments; academic support and advising; and overall satisfaction.

All told, Concord has graduated some 2,600 law students.

Innovation in legal education

In 2018, Concord won the inaugural Leading Edge Prize for Innovation in Legal Education for helping launch a website that matched clients in need of free or discounted legal services with lawyers willing to provide them.

Other recent honors include Concord’s moot court team winning awards for both brief-writing and oral argument in competitions against teams from traditional law schools.

In 2020, Concord hosted the Consortium for Access to Justice’s annual conference online, which included attendees from over 35 countries.

And in 2021, Concord was named to Princeton Review’s list of Best Online J.D. Programs.

Paying it forward

Affordable legal education promotes affordable legal services. In 2017, Concord became the first online school to participate in an incubator program to help graduates launch their own solo practices and keep overhead low so they could offer reasonable rates to modest-means clients. This groundbreaking participation earned Concord the ABA Brown Select Award for Legal Access. Then, in 2019, Concord became the first law school to have a graduate participate in an incubator from abroad, providing immigration services to U.S. residents remotely from Thailand.

 “The high cost of legal education contributes directly to the high cost of legal services,” said Pritikin, citing a recent study, which showed that the average debt load of graduates from private ABA law schools was nearly $200,000. “The ABA regulations that drive up the cost of attendance also drive up costs for clients.”

Pandemic-related stopgap measures aside, only a handful of ABA law schools have obtained permission to offer program options with significant online components. All of them cost roughly the same as their campus-based counterparts, at well over $100,000.

About Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers personalized online education tailored to the unique needs of adults who have work or life experience beyond the classroom, enabling them to develop essential academic and professional skills with the support and flexibility they need to achieve their career goals. It offers personalized paths for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations – no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University’s flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University also operates regional campuses in Fort Wayne and Northwest Indiana, as well as serving science, engineering and technology students at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus. For more information, visit purdueglobal.edu.

About Concord Law School

Concord Law School is part of Purdue University Global, a public, nonprofit school within the respected Purdue University system. Founded in 1998, Concord was the first U.S. law school to offer students a traditional law school program online, including interactive live classes, frequent testing with extensive feedback, and nationally respected faculty members. Offering rigorous, rewarding online degree programs, Concord provides students with a first-rate law school education that is affordable and reflects the needs of today’s employers, delivered in a convenient, highly supportive environment. For more information, please visit concordlawschool.edu

Media contact: Tom Schott, 765-427-1721, tschott@purdue.edu

Source: Martin Pritikin

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