Kaplan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA.*) The formal merger of Concord Law School into Kaplan University in the fall of 2007 makes Concord the first online law school to be part of a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
Concord is registered as a Distance Learning Law School in the unaccredited category with the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Registration with the Committee permits Concord JD graduates, who meet the regulatory requirements, to apply for admission to the State Bar of California.
Concord's unique method of delivering instruction — via the Internet without a fixed classroom facility — places it in the Distance Learning school category under the State Bar rules. While the State Bar of California and the American Bar Association (ABA) do not accredit distance learning schools, the Committee registers schools in this category. Concord Law School is registered as such and the Juris Doctor (JD) program is designed to meet the legal education requirements of the Committee of Bar Examiners.
Concord operates under the rules and guidelines established by the Committee. Those rules and guidelines require certain disclosures to prospective students and students, which Concord supports. Study at, or graduation from, Concord may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or satisfy the requirements for admission to practice law in jurisdictions other than California. A student seeking admission to practice law in a jurisdiction other than California should contact the admitting authority in that jurisdiction for information regarding the legal education requirement for admission to the practice of law.
Additionally, Concord is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC**,) a nationally recognized accrediting agency. As a leading accreditor in distance learning, the DETC requires its institutions to provide prospective students with certain disclosures, which Concord supports. DETC Disclosure Statement 2012
*HLC, Tel.: 312.263.0456 Website: www.ncahlc.org
**DETC, 1601 18th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009
Tel.: 202 234-5100 Website: www.detc.org
Concord is proud of the legal education program that it pioneered and continues to develop. Our program is distinctive because of the ways in which it employs multiple methods of delivering course material to students, because of our proactive approach in dealing with students enrolled in the program, and because the program is delivered completely in a distance learning environment.
A person who earns a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Concord Law School, and meets the other regulatory requirements including passing the First Year Law Students Exam, is eligible to sit for the California Bar Examination. If that person passes the exam and meets the State Bar of California’s other admissions requirements, the person can be admitted to practice law in California.
Concord does not have formal recognition or approval in any state other than California. Bar admission is a state-by-state matter. Admission to the State Bar of California may provide a basis for an application to sit for the bar exam in other states — either immediately after admission or after a specified period of active law practice. Concord, however, cannot give any formal advice or assurance regarding the requirements for admission to the practice of law outside of California. Persons interested in such information should contact the bar admission officials in the particular state. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) www.ncbex.org website includes links to state sites, contact information, and other bar admission information.
HLC and DETC accreditation confirm that Concord is operating a high-quality distance learning degree program. It does not, however, by itself, currently provide a basis for a Concord graduate to seek admission to the practice of law. State bar admission authorities rely heavily on the accreditation process of the ABA to satisfy the legal education requirement for admission to the bar.
The ABA Standards for the Approval of Law Schools (www.abanet.org/legaled; click on Standards) currently do not allow for the approval of a JD program offered through distance education. ABA Standard 306 allows an ABA-approved law school to award up to 12 credits toward the JD degree for distance education courses. Concord continues to work to expand the Standards’ acceptance of distance education. Given the process that is involved in changing these rules, however, it is unlikely that the Standards will be revised in the near future to accommodate a program of legal education such as Concord’s.
Our commitment to students is to provide leadership to expand the use and recognition of distance learning in legal education and to improve the career paths and bar admissions opportunities of Concord graduates in states outside of California. In working toward these objectives, we welcome any and all opportunities to work with state bar admissions authorities, ABA, NCBE, legal educators, and members of the bench and bar to develop standards that will assure high-quality distance learning in law that is affordable and provides access to legal education to those who cannot feasibly attend a three-year residential program or who would learn more effectively in a program such as Concord’s.
We believe that we will ultimately be successful in our endeavors and that our school will obtain the recognition that we deserve and need. Nonetheless, we want to make certain that interested students are not misled by our enthusiasm, our belief that we will ultimately prevail, and our efforts to accomplish our goals. Concord cannot provide a timetable for change on which students should rely. Concord cannot assure any student that opportunities will be available in any particular state by the time that student graduates. We can assure students that we will be proactive in seeking to expand licensing opportunities for our graduates and that we will keep those who come to Concord apprised of our efforts.