- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Concordia University’s new law school in Boise has been given provisional approval from the American Bar Association after nearly a yearlong delay.

The approval announced Monday means that students graduating from the law school will be eligible to take the bar exam in most states - a step that is required for those who want to become licensed practicing attorneys.

Cathy Silak, the dean of Concordia Law School and a former Idaho Supreme Court justice, said she was thrilled by the approval and has great confidence the school will gain full approval soon. The provisional approval lasts for five years; the school can apply for full accreditation starting in 2017.

“Full approval is not something granted lightly by the ABA, so we will be working hard over the next several years to merit that approval,” Silak said.

Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, opened the Boise law school in 2012 with about 75 students. But last August, the American Bar Association announced it was withholding accreditation so the organization’s fact-finders could take a closer look at the school.

That decision prompted an exodus of a significant number of students. Roughly 55 students transferred to the University of Idaho’s School of Law, and others took a leave of absence from the school.

Silak said about 11 students graduated in June, and nine of them are expected to take the bar exam. Nearly 30 students total are expected to graduate by the end of 2015, she said, and they will be joined by roughly 40 more students next spring.

The school is already hearing from potential students interested in the bar association’s decision. “Already I know this morning that the team has received a number of inquiries from prospective students,” Silak said.

In order to earn provisional approval, Concordia officials had to show that the school has substantially complied with the bar association’s standards for accreditation and that it has a plan in place for coming into full compliance within three years. Work on some of the accreditation standards - including having a certain percentage of students pass the bar exam and gain employment - can’t begin until the provisional approval is given.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said in a prepared statement that he was excited by the news, because Concordia’s provisional approval strengthens the city’s role as Idaho’s legal focal point. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden also praised the school, saying it has had a positive impact on the state’s legal community.

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