Concordia University fails to merge, will close

Concordia University School of Law will close permanently at the end of the summer term, the school announced on June 25. 

The law school’s parent university, Concordia University—Portland in Oregon, had announced in early 2020 that it would close, and that left the law school seeking a new parent university. 

The law school is in Boise, Idaho and had opened in 2012 and received full American Bar Association accreditation in March 2019. It announced in February that another private Lutheran school, Minnesota-based Concordia University, St. Paul, had agreed to take over the law school.

But on June 25 it announced the parties were “unable to consummate the transaction”

Interim Dean Latonia Haney Keith said the decision to close the law school is devastating in light of the tireless efforts made by the University and CSP to secure a transfer agreement and the approval of the ABA and accrediting bodies.

“We are absolutely heartbroken for our prospective and current students, our alumni, our faculty and staff, and our supporters and donors who have worked so hard over the last eight years to build a law school up from scratch,” she said.

The law school has notified the ABA and other accrediting bodies and the original teach-out plan, previously approved by the ABA, is no longer viable. The School of Law is modifying its teach-out plan and will submit to the ABA for approval.  

The school’s admissions team is working closely with each student to “find them a new path for their legal education,” the school announced. A teach-out plan is designed to ensure that current students can graduate. Typically,  majority of students transfer to other schools. In Concordia’s case, the closest law school is University of Idaho, which is based in Moscow, but offers upper-level classes in Boise.  

Concordia Law welcomed its first class of law students in 2012 and in August reported its highest incoming class at 89 students. PreLaw magazine has ranked it among the nation’s most affordable law schools, and it is one of only three law schools that for two consecutive years posted a 100% ultimate bar pass rate.

“Additionally, we are grieving for and with our Idaho community,” said Haney Keith. 

Through its clinical program, the School of Law worked to bring legal counsel and representation to the region’s underserved communities, fighting against the socio-economic disparities in housing law and advocating for reforms of the criminal justice and immigration systems.  Pro bono legal services are core to the School of Law’s mission.

The School of Law’s most recent graduating class provided 4,614 hours of pro bono legal services, totaling nearly $1 million dollars to under-represented members of the Idaho community. 

Concordia University—Portland, which is more than a century old, announced it was closing in early 2020, a move that caught many by surprise.

In a statement, the interim president said that the Board of Regents “concluded that the university’s current and projected enrollment and finances make it impossible to continue its educational mission.”

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