As we start 2018, I wanted to provide a few updates about Concord Law School at Kaplan University:
Purdue Acquisition—Purdue University’s acquisition of Kaplan University requires approval from three regulatory bodies: The Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)—the regional accreditor for both Purdue and Kaplan. Two of the approving entities have already taken action. In September of 2017, the ICHE approved Purdue University Global as a postsecondary state educational institution-affiliated entity controlled by Purdue; in October, the U.S. Department of Education’s determination, issued after a review of the pre-acquisition application, confirms the federal regulatory agency will give its approval upon the sale’s consummation. The HLC conducted a site visit to both institutions in late October, and will meet in late February to make a final determination. It is anticipated that the acquisition will be finalized in early 2018.
Revised Curriculum—Our faculty are hard at work and still on track to have a completely revamped curriculum for all students in 2018. The new curriculum includes:
- Year-long courses taught in two semesters
- Practice- and professionalism-related exercise and document exposure
- Shorter, more frequent, and more visually engaging video presentations
- 15 units of experiential learning throughout the required curriculum
- Kaplan Bar Review bar preparatory materials integrated into doctrinal courses
- Discussion boards in each module to facilitate more peer interaction
Articulation Agreement—I am pleased to announce that Concord Law School has just signed its first articulation agreement with another institution: National Juris University, a fully online institution that offers degrees in paralegal studies and related fields. We will articulate certain courses from their master's degree in paralegal studies into our Executive Juris Doctor program, and will offer a small tuition discount for their students who enroll in our traditional Juris Doctor program. We hope this will be the first of many such agreements that will facilitate students who wish to access our programs of legal education.
Incubator Launch—In mid-October, we officially launched the Concord Law School/Legal Aid Society of Orange County Lawyer Entrepreneur Assistance Program (LEAP) relationship, making us the first online law school to join an incubator program. We had four graduates start the program, hailing from Hawaii, rural Ohio, northern San Diego County, and Napa County. These individuals will practice in areas such as veteran’s affairs, student debt law, business advising, and trust and estates.
State Bar of California—California was considering changing its minimum passing score on the bar exam, something for which I and other deans advocated. The California Supreme Court decided to keep the cut score where it is for now, but did leave the door open for a return proposal after more studies are conducted. The State Bar is also moving forward with the proposal to open up a path to state accreditation for distance learning law schools like Concord Law School. While this inevitably will be a long process, as it must go through the State Bar’s board of trustees and the California Supreme Court and legislature, we continue to be hopeful for the future.
Other State Efforts—Unfortunately, Arizona declined to approve our petition for a rule change that would allow our graduates to sit for their bar exam. However, I made a web presentation to the Connecticut Board of Bar Examiners in September that went quite well. We should hear from them in 2018. In the meantime, we are still actively monitoring developments in other states and considering which to pursue.
Thanks and all the best,