« on: July 10, 2013, 12:31:47 PM »
Concord is the most prominent and very likely will become the first accredited on-line law school in he US. As a subsidiary of a publicly owned corporation they have the means to make it happen . . . a quest they have been on for more than a decade. I predict it will happen within two years. Since the new ABA accreditation czar is Barry Currier, former dean of Concord . . . they also have an informed and sympathetic ear at the ABA . . . I predict less than five years before they get provisional ABA accreditation as well . . .
Although I'm sure that CA Law Dean has a better understanding of the subject matter than I do, ABA accreditation of online schools seems unlikely to me (at least in the near future) for a number of reasons.
Bar Pass Rates
I believe that until Concord greatly increases its first time bar pass rate accreditation is nearly impossible. The current ABA scheme requires that a school's bar pass rate be within 15% of the statewide average, or that they have a cumulative pass rate of 75% over five years. Concord's first time pass rate is around 35%, and thus Concord would have to drastically increase that rate to meet the ABA standard.
Of course, the ABA could simply adopt a less rigorous standard for online schools. This seems unlikely, however, since the ABA has recently considered tightening the requirement from 15% to 10%.
Effect of Concord's Dean at ABA
Although it's helpful to have a sympathetic ear at the ABA, accreditation is not the decision of one man. Under the current rules, Concord simply cannot comply. Therefore, the rules would have to be re-written to accommodate online programs. That process would require the support of numerous ABA committees and members. Currently, the ABA seems hostile to the concept.
The accreditation standards cover everything from bar pass rates and faculty tenure, to financial resources and student services. It would be a gargantuan task for the ABA to overhaul those rules, and would they be willing to do it simply for the benefit of online schools?
If anything, the ABA appears committed to its traditional standards. They recently refused to extend provisional accreditation to Lincoln Memorial University, a brick and mortar law school with Tennessee state bar accreditation, and Whittier Law School was put on probation due to low bar pass rates and high attrition.
In closing, I've said before that to have a shot at accreditation online schools are going to have to meet the ABA half way. As long as they have high attrition and low bar pass rates, I don't think they'll be able to drum up enough support within the organization. And, frankly, I'm not sure if online schools are capable of both becoming more selective in admissions (a necessary prerequisite to increasing bar pass rates), and garnering enough students to turn a profit.