Boise’s Concordia law school wins provisional accreditation

The Concordia University School of Law received the nod from the American Bar Association just as the school’s first graduates — nine students — are prepared to get their degrees.

Provisional accreditation means those students are eligible to take the Idaho State Bar exam or the exam in any other state except New York, which requires an additional step.

“We’re just so excited, we will be able to move forward,” said Cathy Silak, the law school dean.

Concordia originally sought accreditation from the ABA in August. The association’s Council of Legal Education delayed the matter and sent fact-finders to Boise to look at the school more closely. Silak declined again Monday to say why the ABA delayed, saying the reasons were confidential.

When the ABA decided to continue its consideration of Concordia’s accreditation last August, 55 second- and third-year students at the school left and enrolled at the University of Idaho law school. U of I offers a second- and third-year program on its Downtown Boise campus six blocks east of Concordia.

Concordia, a Lutheran school in Portland, announced in 2007 that it would open a law school in Boise. It spent several years raising money to build the school. Seventy-five students enrolled in 2012 to make up the first class. Law school typically takes three years to complete.

Concordia now has about 100 students in all. Silak expects to use the school’s accreditation as a recruiting tool to bring in more. Accreditation also opens the door for scholarships and participation in some regional and national recruiting events.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden offered congratulations.

“Boise’s role as our state’s legal focal point becomes even stronger with Concordia’s accreditation, and the school is a fantastic presence in our central district,” Bieter said.

Said Wasden: “I appreciate the positive impact Concordia has made in Idaho’s legal community thus far and look forward to great things from its faculty and graduates in the future.