No more “moldy mayonnaise.” Holidays and salad days are here again. “Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs” — nonsense! The lawyer glut must be over. Let the good times roll! Or at least that’s what you might conclude on news an online law school is seeking permission to matriculate students with the goal of having its graduates in Arizona apply for admission to practice in the state.
There are 205 American Bar Association-accredited law schools in the United States. In virtually all jurisdictions, only ABA-accredited law school graduates may sit for a respective state bar exam to gain admission to practice. But according to Concord Law School at Kaplan University, there’s room for one more exception — for Arizonans.
On November 9, 2016 Concord Law School (CLS) Dean Martin Pritikin asked the Arizona Supreme Court to amend its rules to permit not just ABA-accredited law school graduates to apply for Arizona admission but to also let graduates from “an online law school approved by one of the six regional accreditors federally recognized by the Department of Education.” That description conveniently applies to CLS.
Never mind that 65 percent of law schools recently surveyed — by Kaplan Test Prep no less — say there are too many law schools. Survey respondents even said it “would be a good idea if at least a few law schools closed.”
From these responses, it’s clear too many law schools equals too much competition for students. And talk about timing, one law school just announced plans to close on June 30, 2017. Indiana Tech will shut down its law school less than one year after the ABA gave it provisional accreditation.
As for Concord’s petition, you can read it here. It explains why CLS is not only less expensive but why it’s supposedly as good as ABA-accredited law schools. The petitioner explains, “CLS admits a lower percentage of its applicants than nearly half of ABA schools. During the most recent administration of the California bar exam (by many accounts the most difficult in the nation) for which data is currently available, CLS graduates’ first-time pass rates were within nearly one point of those of California ABA schools, and were a point higher than those of out-of-state ABA schools.”
And Concord’s research of U.S. Census and ABA data even allows it to claim “Arizona has a below-average number of lawyers . . . 1 for every 417 people, as compared to 1 for 247 people nationwide.” Either ratio sounds like a lot of lawyers per capita. But alas, the ‘sweet spot’ for lawyers per capita remains a mystery. Bottom line, it must be whatever the lawyer cartel says it is.
But no matter. If like the State Bar of Arizona, access-to-justice means access-to-lawyers, then what’s one more outlet for law degree sheepskins and lawyers in the state? This is why, says the petitioner, Arizona needs what Concord is selling.
“Arizona has three ABA law schools, only one of which offers a part-time program. Millions of Arizona residents do not live within commuting distance of these schools. CLS’s flexible online format makes law school accessible to those whose geography, work or family responsibilities, military service, or other life circumstances prevent them from attending traditional campus-based institutions. Allowing CLS graduates to sit for Arizona’s bar exam would create new educational opportunities for the state’s residents, as well as expand access to legal services in underrepresented areas. This is particularly important for Native Americans living on reservations within the state’s borders, who are in great need of, but will have little access to, legal education–and thus legal services–without a fully online option.”
Just the same, good luck making your case Concord. You’ll need it. Thanks to the Arizona legal establishment’s persistent protectionism, I’ve little doubt the knives will be out to keep market barriers secure and would-be competitors out.