Concord Law School, using state-of-the-art technology and the Internet, delivers a sound program of legal education that is accessible and affordable. Concord's program helps career-focused individuals achieve their personal and professional goals. In doing so, the program uniquely serves the needs of the legal profession and the public interest.
Concord Law School is the leading program of online legal education in the United States today. Since opening its virtual doors in 1998, more than 1,700 students have graduated from the law school. Concord currently serves approximately 900 students in its LLM, Juris Doctor, and Executive Juris Doctor programs. What fuels the Concord educational experience is its accessibility. Most Concord students live in suburban or rural communities, where there is little or no access to a law school education. The convenience of Concord's online program meets the needs of students who are otherwise highly qualified, but who cannot move their families or change their employment status to attend a traditional law program.
Concord's relatively low cost makes legal education accessible to a diverse student population with a wide variety of backgrounds. A Concord classroom brings together students who are ethnically and geographically diverse with a broad range of professional and personal experiences. This unique mix fosters a vibrant, motivated student body that works together to achieve its goal of earning a law degree.
Vision and perseverance lead to the launch of Concord University School of Law. Founding Dean Jack R. Goetz sees in the Internet an opportunity to create broader access to the study of law. Kaplan, Inc., COO Andrew S. Rosen, himself a lawyer, supports the initiative and champions funding for the effort. eStream.com, led by two young technologists, Craig Gold and Grant Moncur, develops the school’s learning platform. Robert Hull and Greg Brandes are Concord's first professors. In October 1998, 33 students (collectively known as CU1) begin the program.
In dedicating a new law school building, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg mentions the Concord program. Her skepticism along with other media interest raises the school’s profile. That fall, the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) conducts a site visit. Incorporated into the DETC's accrediting process is the concept that educational programs delivered at a distance should be comparable (in curriculum and outcomes) to those offered by accredited traditional residential universities. By the end of the year, the Concord student census is 180.
Concord gains initial accreditation from the DETC. The William Mitchell Law Review publishes a faculty article by Robert E. Oliphant titled “Will Internet Driven Concord University Law School Revolutionize Traditional Law School Teaching?” Andrew Rosen testifies before the Web-based Education Commission, a Congressional panel mandated to study policy and other issues facing distance education. A note about Concord’s program is made in the final report issued by the Commission. The student population grows to more than 500.
Concord First, a supplemental program of exam writing and review, is introduced to assist students in their preparation for the First Year Law Students Exam. A nationwide externship program called the Legal Education Experience Program—better known as LEEP— and led by Professor William Weston, is launched. An elective in the fourth year, LEEP provides the opportunity to gain practical legal experience under the supervision of an attorney. A series of health law electives are developed. The DETC accreditation process is completed and Concord becomes approved for military benefit programs.
Concord partners with William Mitchell College of Law and Professor John Sonsteng to develop an online advocacy course. “Advocacy – Theories, Tactics & Techniques” teaches basic trial advocacy skills through online demonstrations. Students submit videotapes of their own performances for critique. In October, Concord celebrates its first graduating class with a ceremony at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Barry Diller, CEO of InterActive Corp. and a board member of The Washington Post Co., is the keynote speaker. Ten students receive the Juris Doctor degree; four students are awarded the first Executive Juris Doctor degrees.
Concord’s first graduates sit for the California Bar Exam in February. They achieve a 60 percent pass rate (six of ten), besting the overall first-time percentage of 50.1. Their achievement is featured in the national press. Concord Law School Honor Society is established by the deans to recognize outstanding academic achievement by students and alumni and to promote academic excellence and service. The first fully online Student Bar Association (SBA) is formed by Concord students. Elections are held and Duane Hurt, an oral surgeon from Mississippi, becomes the first SBA president.
The SBA begins producing a quarterly publication, The Concord Advocate, devoted to the law school community. In addition to official student organizations, the first Advocate lists over a dozen “off-site” groups run by and for Concord students. Dean Barry A. Currier takes over the reins from Jack Goetz, the founding dean. Dean Currier joins Concord from the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, where he was the senior deputy director. In June, the SBA sponsors its first school-wide event featuring a guest speaker. Over 400 students gather online to hear Justice Antonin Scalia.
Concord begins the tradition of two graduation ceremonies per year in Los Angeles. Gerald M. Rosberg, VP of The Washington Post Company, speaks at the February ceremony. In April, Concord students participate in the “Law School Survey of Student Engagement” (LSSSE). Survey results indicate Concord students report being more challenged, more likely to prepare for class, and more engaged in their studies each year of the law studies than the survey group of 30,000 students from 72 law schools. Moreover, Concord students are more likely to stay engaged, prepare for class, and continue to be challenged,counter to the results of the overall survey. Concord students report a substantially lower level of law school debt than survey respondents generally.
As of the July 2006 bar exam, the number of Concord graduates who have passed the California Bar Exam tops 100. Concord's 29 total passers on the February 2006 California exam was the largest number of passers from any non-ABA law school since July 1997. Concord graduates are putting their legal education to work in a wide variety of settings. Alumni in California have started their own solo practices, gone to work in firms, and have expanded their previous employment to include legal services. In other areas of the country, graduates are practicing patent law, working in a social security disability law firm, and producing shows for CourtTV. Many graduates continue in their respective careers finding their law degree fuels growth of responsibilities as well as a promotion or increased earnings.
Concord's merger with Kaplan University in the fall of 2007 makes it the first online law school to be a part of a regionally accredited university. As a result, Concord students become eligible for the Federal financial aid program. Third year students Mick Collins and Damion Reinhardt are the first Concord team to participate in the American Constitution Society Constance Baker Motley National Moot Court Competition. Concord graduate Floyd Chapman is appointed an attorney member of the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Linda Schaefer (JD W’06) is the first Concord graduate to sit for and pass the Wisconsin Bar Exam. Concord Career Services launches a "Legal Career Management" course for students and graduates developed in partnership with Richard L. Hermann of Georgetown Associates, LLC.
The winter graduation ceremony fields the largest class to date as 134 JD and 50 EJD degrees are awarded. In March, 4 graduates—Larry David (JD’04), Michael Kaner (JD’03), Ross Mitchell (JD’04), and Sandusky Shelton (JD’02)—become the first Concord graduates to be sworn into the U.S. Supreme Court Bar in open court. Loyola University Chicago School of Law joins with Concord to offer its MJ in Health Law online. David Abrams (JD W’06) becomes the first graduate to petition to sit for and pass the Maryland Bar Exam. Jonathan Grayer, then Chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., delivers the summer graduation address marking the 10th anniversary of Concord’s launch. Mr. Grayer’s support a decade ago was instrumental in the development of Concord. The alumni site, www.concordlawalumni.org, launches.
Ross Mitchell (JD S’04) was sworn into the state bar of Massachusetts - the first online law school graduate to have won this privilege - in June after passing the February bar exam. He did so only after persuading the Supreme Judicial Court of MA, in a 6-to-1 decision, to allow him to sit. Marjorie Dailey (JD S’09) and Tom Fleming (JD S’09) became the first team from an online law school to compete in the final round of a national moot court competition (65 teams from 45 law schools initially competed.) In June, Marjorie and Tom faced a team from Stanford Law School in the final round of the Constance Baker Motley Moot Court Competition at the American Constitution Society Convention. In announcing the decision that went to the Stanford team, the judges said there was “little, if any, difference in the presentations.”
Professor Arthur Miller, Concord supplementary lecturer and NYU professor (formerly of Harvard Law), was the February graduation speaker. In his remarks, he said, “Today is a special day for you and also for me. You see, I’ve been here since the beginning. When I was first approached it seemed natural to have a program that enabled working professionals and those limited by geography to receive an education. I also believed it should be available 24/7. It was a noble experiment. And now, ten years later, you are the 13th graduating class, and this is no longer an experiment but a tradition. As you go forward in your lives, I want you to pledge to continue the spirit of this institution—its innovation and its tenacity. Make this law school proud of you.” In July, Concord launches the Small Business Practice LLM.
Graduates number more than 1,500. In October, Greg Brandes, dean of faculty since 1999, is appointed interim dean as Barry Currier steps down. Later that month, Concord hosts a panel on privacy and the media moderated by Professor Arthur Miller. Held at the Washington Post Conference Center, the panel includes Washington Post Co. CEO Donald Graham, Al Hunt of Bloomberg News, Jim Lehrer of PBS, Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, Kevin Baine of Williams and Connolly, and Professor Joel Friedman as well as Concord graduate Colleen Glynn (JD’08) and Scott DeGarmo, husband of Assistant Dean of Students Alana DeGarmo.
Greg Brandes was named dean as Concord celebrated 10 years of graduates. Concord’s first graduation ceremony was held on November 21, 2002. On October 20, 2012, more than 40 alumni gathered to honor those first graduates at a luncheon, featuring Professor Arthur Miller as the keynote speaker. In his remarks titled “Are They Closing the Courthouse Doors?” Professor Miller decried the growing number of roadblocks preventing claimants from seeking judicial redress. Concord graduates turned out in great numbers (39 percent) to participate in Kaplan University’s comprehensive survey of alumni in which 95 percent reported their Concord education met their expectations. The Small Business Practice LLM program saw its first graduates when 4 LLM degrees were awarded.
As part of Concord's winter graduation festivities, Dean Brandes moderated a panel discussion in LA titled “Closing the ‘Justice Gap,’ Law Schools and Their Critics Confront the New Realities of the Profession.” Panelists included Chairman of Kaplan, Inc., and graduation speaker Andy Rosen, KU Board Trustee and Concord graduate, Larry David, and Deborah Kelly, Directing Attorney of the Domestic Violence Project of the L.A. County Bar Association. In June, Concord hosted a panel discussion in Menlo Park, CA: “What's the Right Balance of Public & Private in a World of Big Data & Emerging Internet Superpowers?”moderated by Professor Arthur Miller. The panel included 2 Concord graduates as well as the chief privacy officer and associate general counsel from the Oracle Corporation.
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