Interview with Concord Law School Graduate

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The following is an interview I had with a graduate of Concord Law School, which is an online law school now affiliated with Kaplan University. I have broken the interview into sections so you can jump to the section that interests you most.

This was an informal interview, actually, more of a conversation. I don’t have his express permission to publish his name, so to be safe, I will allow him to remain anonymous in this article.

Why He Choose Concord Law School

The background of the Concord Law School graduate provides a context for you to understand his perspective. He works in a mid-level legal services position. He never had plans to practice law. Rather, since he works with attorneys, he wanted to understand law better and garner additional respect from the attorneys with whom he works.

In other words, this Concord Law School graduate wanted the J.D. behind his name. He wanted the credentials of a law degree. But he did not plan to take any bar exam or practice as a lawyer.

This Concord Law School graduate applied to Concord Law School as well as traditional law schools in his state. He was accepted at Concord and at least one traditional law school close to his home. However, the nearest traditional law school would have required spending an additional 1-2 hours in the car each day. In addition to the commute, two reasons led to his decision to attend Concord Law School rather than a traditional law school.

First, he wanted to continue working during law school. He wanted to keep his job because he enjoyed it, and giving it up would undermine the reason he went to law school: to enhance his current career. Since attending a traditional law school would require daytime classes and commuting to school, in addition to the study required for an online law degree, the traditional law school would prevent him from keeping his job. Further, since his job required travel, his job would require him to miss multiple classes if he attended a traditional law school. However, attending Concord allowed him to listen to lectures and participate in online discussions while out of town.

Second, the cost of Concord Law School was far less than traditional law schools. While traditional law schools can cost over $25,000 per year, Concord Law School’s tuition was under $10,000 per year.

Those were the two personal factors that affected this Concord Law School graduate’s decision to attend Concord Law School rather than a traditional school. But there are other factors he would recommend other students consider when evaluating whether to attend Concord Law School. These factors are comparisions between the attributes of Concord Law School and other law schools. He elaborated on these attributes when I asked him about his experience attending Concord Law school.

Experience Enrolled in Concord Law School

The Concord Law School graduate that I spoke with first explained many attributes of Concord Law School that he appreciated. Following these, he mentioned some aspects of Concord Law School that he didn’t like.

Benefits of Concord Law School

1. Concord Law School’s Top Professors. One aspect of Concord Law School that this law graduate appreciated most was the prominent law school professors that were hired for his courses. The law professors chosen included some of the best and brightest legal scholars on the subjects taught. These law professors presented the course material through lectures and written information. However, these law professors were not the only law professors for each course.

In addition to having prominent professors assigned to Concord Law School’s courses, each course included a second law professor. This second professor graded papers, provided logistical support to the class, and was available to consult with students who had questions.

It was not clear to me whether the prominent law school professors were also available to Concord Law School students who had questions. Although, I’m not sure how important it would be for Concord law students to have access to these professors as long as a competitant law professor was available.

Having these top law professors provided a number of benefits to this Concord Law School graduate.

First, he felt reassured that the quality of lectures he received at this online law school was comparable, if not better, than most traditional law schools.

Second, he felt more pride in his legal education because he knew he had training from some of the best minds in the legal profession, which adds credibility to his degree. This credibility may help offset concerns that an online law degree is not as good as a law degree from a traditional law school.

2. Flexibility of Concord Law School. This Concord Law School graduate said one of the best aspects of attending Concord Law School was the flexibility it provided by allowing him to listen to lectures, study, and write based on the time that was best for his schedule rather than being stuck on the same schedule as 50 other students in a traditional law school classroom.

He said he listened to most of his lectures at night after work, or in a hotel while away from home. Some Concord Law School students even listened to lectures while driving in the car. This flexiblity not only provided more time for learning, but also allowed him to learn when he was best disposed to learn.

He added one caveat to the flexiblity offered by Concord Law School. Although Concord Law School students have flexibility regarding the time of day they can listen to the lectures, the students are required to stay on pace with the class. Students are not allowed to get behind in their schedule. This ensures that students have flexibility with accountability; procrastination is not allowed.

3. Concord Law School’s Cost. Finally, one of the best benefits of Concord Law School was its low cost. With tuition under $10,000, Concord Law School is cheap enough for law students to prevent graduating with too much debt. Law students from traditional law schools often graduate with over $100,000 in debt (this includes tuition, books, and living expenses since law students often have difficulting maintaining a job that pays much during law school).

The fact that this Concord Law School graduate didn’t have any debt meant he didn’t feel pressure to find a high paying job. Even better, he already had a job, so he didn’t have to face the challenges of a tough job market for attorneys. Keep in mind, this Concord graduate had no intention of practicing law or becoming a licensed attorney; he just wanted a juris doctorate (J.D.) degree in law.

Problems with Concord Law School

Impressed by the pride this Concord Law School student felt for his law school, I asked him whether there was anything he didn’t like about Concord Law School. He answered immediately: “Yes!” He was frustrated by the unnecessarily high standards imposed by Concord Law School. That is, he felt that Concord Law School pushed its students more than law students in traditional law schools.

He said that he felt he was required to learn more and know more than students at traditional law schools. He spoke with friends at traditional law schools who were not required to understand the doctrines as extensively has he was.

Further, he explained that if law students don’t do a reading before a class, students in some law school classes can prevent the professor from knowing they didn’t do the reading by sitting in the back of the class and not raising their hands. Of course, this doesn’t work with a Socratic classroom, but the accountability was even more rigerous with Concord Law School’s online courses.

In a Concord Law School class, law students are often required to each answer the question posed by the law professor. Since students have to answer nearly every question, the Concord law professor will know if a student isn’t prepared. Similarly, the Concord law professor can also use the Socratic method and call on a particular student even though the discussion takes place in a chat room.

In addition, this Concord Law School graduate said that other parts of his education had unnecessarily high standards.

I asked this Concord Law School graduate why he thought that Concord Law School requires standards that seem unnecessarily high. He thought that Concord Law School was possibly trying to compensate for the public impression that online law schools are not as rigerous as traditional law schools. He felt that Concord Law School was seeking a reputation with employers and the legal community that represented a high caliber legal education producing high caliber law school graduates, despite the fact that Concord Law School is not approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) (the ABA has not approved any online law school).

Conclusion

This law school graduate continues to be very happy and satisfied with his education from Concord Law School. As he hoped, learning the legal concepts has helped him communicate and interact with his clients, who are attorneys, much better than before. He also values having the credentials of a law degree, which hasn’t resulted in any change or promotion in his job (at least not yet), but has made him feel more confident in his career.

Learn More About Earning Your Law School Degree Online

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This article is one of a series of online law school articles. Read the series here: online law school. For more information, visit our Online Law Schools section or this website: Law School Online.


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8 Responses to “Interview with Concord Law School Graduate”

  1. Janice DiMegglio Says:

    Prospective students to Concord should be very careful. Despite their “standards”, less than 40% pass the bar. My husband will finish there next year and he reports that most of his class are frustrated that they still cannot feel good about taking the bar. One of their deans wrote to his class after the final and told them what he though of them. The email has circulated around the student body. It gives his opinion of Concord students and explains why the bar reviews are a ripoff.

    “This is a very difficult e-mail to write, but I felt I owed it to all of you to send this message. I recently finished grading the Remedies finals and I was terribly disappointed by the responses. To avoid most of the class failing the course I had to lessen my standards below what the standards would be on the bar exam.

    Based on what I read I feel there are very few in the group who have a legitimate chance to pass the California Bar Exam.”

    “The high prices are unfortunate because of the monopoly that exists in this field. Bar/Bri, Barpassers, MircoMash, and a few others are all owned by the same entity, so there is no competition to hold the prices down.”

    Caveat emptor.

  2. Diane Friedmann Says:

    based on your feedback would there be any online law school you would recommend?

  3. StarLawyer2B Says:

    I’m currently a Law student at Concord Law and I am extremely pleased. Stressed with all my studies, but pleased
    Yes, here at Concord the course work is very rigorous and there’s always reading lessons, cases to brief and course assignments to catch-up on and complete. However, I totally appreciate the benefit that Concord Law affords. Without its structure, it would be impossible for me to attend Law School. Now, I chose this institution because of its flexibility, high standards and super low tuition costs. I also readily accepted its differences as I’m personally comfortable with embracing change. I am a mother, wife, and community volunteer who must work (especially in these terrible economic times) in order to support my family/lifestyle. While achieving my goal as a lawyer is a passion for me, attending a traditional-based Law school simply just isn’t a viable option.
    When I was first introduced to the institution, my first reaction was really like, “This is too good to be true.” After researching the school, asking a gazillion questions, and focusing on what was best for me in order to achieve my goals, I decided to apply to Concord Law. I’m glad I did.
    As for the course curriculum, we take the same courses as the traditional-based Law schools. It is true that the school places high demands on student achievement.
    However, there are also fabulous resources available to all students, designed to serve as excellent study tools—icing on the cake! After all, California has one of the most difficult Bar Exams in the country & all the help you can get is worth it!
    Equally, Concord is representative of a diverse student body. Some students are successfully retired, business owners, nurses, engineers, computer scientists, doctors, dentists, paralegals, and educators to name a few. With this they bring a plethora of real career experience into the classroom. Many of us matriculated into Concord, having earned a Master’s degree. At minimum, a bachelor’s degree is required.
    It’s true that Concord is not ABA accredited, but that’s only because the ABA currently does not have an approval policy in place for programs geared toward 100% online education. Hopefully this will change in the near future, as Law schools such as Concord have definitely demonstrated the ability to produce successful, practicing attorneys and many current leaders are pushing for changes to review, reflect and adopt such policies. Until then, Concord and schools alike are pressing on with high levels of achievement. Just recently, four Concord Law graduates gained admittance into the US. Supreme Court!
    In essence, if you really desire to become a lawyer & the traditional setting may not be suitable for your needs and lifestyle–then by all means consider Concord Law School. Folks, this learning design is nothing new. Nurses, Computer programmers, psychologists, etc. are earning degrees online. Even PhD programs are available online in many academic disciplines.
    Give Concord Law School a try. It is real and it does work! Pioneer to achievement & never give up.

  4. Marilyn Hartford Says:

    Concord and any other online law school is what you make of it. I have attended and also taught with online schools and this is how I look at it. concord gives students a great opportunity. What they make of it is up to them. There is no professor to stand at the front of the class making sure you did your reading. There is no embarasment for poor grades because you are the only one to see them.

    I wish the dean had graded the papers hard for that one class and failed them if they needed it. Less will pass the bar because of different reasons, such as work conflicting with study for the bar and lack of self motivation.

    The low rate is not a knock on the school but a reflection of the students ability to make it through the long haul while balancing family, work, etc.

    Personally I would like to see Concord move toward requiring the LSAT. That I bet dimes to dollars would also affect the rate of pass.

  5. JN Says:

    Having graduated a California unaccredited law school and passing the bar exam, I can say ditto to some of Marilyn’s comments and no to others. In essence, I did poorly on the LSAT, and even though the school I attended did not require it for admission, I felt such a policy was a great equalizer to those of us who have already proved to ourselves that we are great lawyer material, even before law school. Had they required an LSAT with a characteristically high score, I would not have attended law school, period. With my score and GPA, I did not qualify to attend any ABA school.

    A word to those who are skiddish about their law school dream… you must develop friends in the legal community if you are to survive against ABA-school graduates. Your performance as a litigator may be stellar but will remain unknown unless you even the fight against those from a higher-notch reputation. If you cannot, I beg of you to not bet four years plus a year of bar prep against yourself.

    If you have a network in place that is partial to you, then go for it, LSAT or no LSAT. Remember this lawyer who bombed the LSAT but graduated, passed the CA bar and is now quite content in his career.

  6. Marilyn Hartford Says:

    JN makes some great statements and I see what JN says about the LSAT. Concord does do some major weaning in the first year and the class sizes reduce anywhere from 50-70% so a fair shake is given. After that it is what you make of it. COncord students with a 3.0 or higher have a FYLSX pass rate of 84% Those with low grades have a dismal pass rate. I am sure that the same applies to the bar after graduation.

    I once read a post by a doctor who said that he had graduated from a top ivy med school and that there were some of his classmates that he would not even let trim his dogs nails, yet he met some doctors who had to do the round about way through non AMA schools and he would entrust his children with them.

    I hope that as the ABA does their certification review (which started this year), they will give accredidation to schools based on their curriculum and faculty and finally get rid of this 1 seat per student in library and other things that no longer really show the output of a student. It is the 21st century…how many lawyers out there now go to the library? I dare say Concord graduates will be much better versed for the online world of research and legal services than any brick and mortar graduate.

  7. Justin Says:

    I am extremely interested in the Concord Law School program. My question, however, is how do I find out if this program is recognized by the state of Florida? Am I able to sit for the Florida bar upon completion of this program? Thanks!

  8. Law School Says:

    Justin, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners could tell you. It might even say on their website: http://www.floridabarexam.org. If you are willing, leave a comment back here and let us know what you learned.

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