University of Idaho purchases former Concordia Law School building in Boise

The University of Idaho College of Law has taken over the lease for the campus of the defunct Concordia Law School in downtown Boise and will relocate all Boise law school operations there.

The University of Idaho’s main campus is in Moscow, Idaho, 300 miles north of Boise, the state’s capital and major population center. But since 2010, the law school has steadily expanded its presence in Boise, due to its proximity to legal employers. It opened the Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center for third-year law students in 2010, and added a second-year program in 2014. A first-year program was added in 2017. These plans had been in the works since the late 1990s.

Concordia University, a private Lutheran school based in Portland, Ore., first opened its law school campus in Boise in 2012, stating that there was a need for a full law school in the state’s biggest city. The law school operated successfully until early 2020, when its parent university announced that it would close at the end of the spring semester, citing overwhelming financial difficulties. The law school announced that it would become affiliated with Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn., but those plans failed to materialize and the law school was shuttered at the end of the summer term in June 2020.

In August 2020, the University of Idaho College of Law accepted 110 transfer students from Concordia, the biggest transfer of law students in the western U.S. By taking over the now-vacant Concordia building, the school will be able to better accommodate those students. The current deal is for a 30-year lease of the building, with an option to purchase at every five-year point in the lease.

“I think it’s just fantastic,” Johanna Kalb, dean of U-Idaho College of Law, told the Idaho Press. “It’s been a decade since we started exploring expansion into Boise, and I think this is really a validation of my predecessors and that foresight to see that we can better serve the state if we had a second campus."

The soonest that law school classes could begin at the new building would be January of 2022.

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