Purdue and two other online law schools get full California accreditation

The State Bar of California has granted full accreditation to three online law schools: the Concord Law School at Purdue University GlobalNorthwestern California University School of Law and St. Francis Law School

Purdue University called it a ‘watershed moment’ in legal education. 

The Committee of Bar Examiners deemed that Concord is in full compliance with the guidelines governing accredited law schools and, therefore, was not required to have a period of provisional accreditation, as typically is the case for law schools seeking full accreditation. 

“Being fully accredited provides us additional credibility and recognition,” said Martin Pritikin, dean of Concord Law School. “It acknowledges that we can meet all the educational objectives of a regulator. Concord’s mission since its inception over 20 years ago was to make high-quality legal education affordable and accessible by delivering it fully online. I am thrilled that the State Bar of California has recognized that quality.”

Concord Law School was founded in 1998 as the first online law school. Kaplan University acquired it in 2007 and Purdue University, a public university in Indiana, acquired Kaplan University in April 2018 and renamed it Purdue University Global. 

However, for the past 22 years, students have been required to pass California’s First Year Law Students’ Exam, also known as the baby bar, in order to continue their studies. The State Bar of California is one of the few states in the country that accredits law schools.

“Accreditation of our convenient and affordable programs expands opportunities to access legal education for students who are otherwise highly qualified but who cannot move their families or change their employment status to attend a traditional law program,” Purdue Global Chancellor Frank Dooley said.

Northwestern California University School of Law was founded in 1982 and has 500 students. It is based in Sacramento and has offered an external program since its founding.  

St. Francis Law School is a nonprofit law school that was founded in 2017, with the goal of being a higher-end online school. With corporate offices in Newport Beach, Calif., it reports a bar passage rate of 60%. 

Two other online schools, the California School of Law and the California Desert Trial Academy, are in the process of completing applications for state accreditation, and several schools with state accreditation have added flex programs that can be completed online, the State Bar of California told the ABA Journal in an email.