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By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

August 11, 2023

Concord Law School is changing its name to Purdue Global Law School to show its connection not only to the Hoosier state but also to Purdue University as it continues to wait for the Indiana Supreme Court to decide if its graduates can sit for the state’s bar exam.

Concord, the first wholly online law school, became part of the Boilermaker family when Purdue acquired Kaplan University in 2018 and formed Purdue Global, the online university. The name change aligns with Purdue Global’s branding effort, according to Concord dean Martin Pritikin, and fulfills a recommendation from the Supreme Court that the law school take Purdue’s moniker.

“Purdue, rightly so, is a name that is associated with excellence and, I believe, that that is what we represent and have always represented at the law school,” Pritikin said, noting he sees a similarity between the university’s focus on discovery and innovation and Concord’s inventiveness in putting its entire curriculum online. “I do think it is in keeping with the broader sense of innovation and sort of moving into uncharted territory.”

Following the approval by the Purdue Global Board of Trustees on Aug. 4, the new name will take effect in November.

“The Purdue system is excited to officially welcome a law school to be associated with our name: Purdue Global Law School,” Purdue president Mung Chiang said in a press release. “In the age of online learning, America’s first online law school will continue to grow in scale, excellence and impact.”

Partly because Concord is all virtual and does not have a brick-and-mortar location, the law school is not accredited by the American Bar Association. Currently, its graduates can only become licensed to practice law in California because that state – unlike Indiana and most other states – does not require those sitting for the bar exam to have a J.D. degree from an ABA accredited law school.

Last year, Concord petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court to open the Hoosier bar exam to its graduates. The law school boasted about its curriculum and said it could help close the justice gap in small Indiana towns that either have too few or no attorneys by enabling residents in rural areas to study the law and become lawyers without having to relocate to the larger communities where the law schools are.

In response to the petition, the Supreme Court established the Purdue University Global Concord Law School Working Group. The group did not reach a consensus on whether to allow Concord graduates to take the Indiana bar but its report submitted in February outlined the pros and cons of the proposal and offered a list of recommendations.

Among the working group’s concerns was Concord’s California bar passage rate which has dipped as low as 25% for first-time takers in the past five years. However, the February 2023 results gave the law school reason to brag.

Of those who took the bar for the first time, Concord posted a pass rate of 62%. That is not only a record for the school but higher than the 49% passage rate for in-state first-time takers and 47% for out-of-state first-time takers of the California exam.

The Supreme Court has not issued its decision on Concord’s proposal.

The law school had considered changing its name when it became affiliated with Purdue. Pritikin said “Concord” has no special significance to the history or mission of the school.

“It was just a name that was selected 25 years ago,” Pritikin said.

Even so, Concord officials hesitated to take a new name in 2018. The dean said the law school wanted to be thoughtful since everything from the domain name to the marketing and classroom materials would have to be changed.

Now, with the petition to the Supreme Court and the rebranding, the time seems right.

“There were a few alums who felt a little nostalgic to see the Concord name go because it is the name that they know, that was there when they went to school,” Pritikin said. “But even they understood that Purdue is a respected name and having that name more prominent is only going to be beneficial for the law school long term.”

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