This article was originally published by John Sowell in the Idaho Statesman.
The University of Idaho College of Law has hired eight new professors to accommodate the addition of 110 students from the shuttered Concordia University School of Law.
Six of the new professors join the faculty from Concordia’s law school in Boise.
“As the state’s public law school, we felt that it was our obligation to help Concordia students who wanted to complete their legal education in Idaho,” Jerrold Long, dean of the University of Idaho College of Law, said in a news release.
This marks the second time the University of Idaho has accepted law students from Concordia. In 2014, when Concordia was initially unable to receive accreditation from the American Bar Association, 53 Concordia students transferred to Idaho’s law program. Forty-two of those students later graduated from the UofI.
The transfer is the largest for a law school in the West.
All but two of the former Concordia students will enroll at Idaho’s Boise campus. The other two will attend classes at the law school’s main campus in Moscow.
In February, Concordia University in Portland announced it was closing due to financial troubles. The law school found a willing partner in Concordia University St. Pauland spent months working out a transfer agreement and obtaining approval from the American Bar Association and accrediting bodies. Under that arrangement, the Boise campus would have continued operating.
But that plan fell apart in late June and Concordia’s 147 law students were left scrambling to find a new school.
Shortly before the announcement that Concordia’s law school would not reopen, the UofI College of Law admitted 137 first-year students. That forced the college to find additional space to handle those students and those transferring from Concordia.
The school will use office and classroom space in both the Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center — the former Ada County Courthouse building across the street from the Idaho Capitol — and the Idaho Water Center, across from Whole Foods at 322 E. Front St.
When fall classes begin Aug. 24, the Boise law school campus will offer online instruction. The law center and the Idaho Water Center will not reopen until Boise returns to Stage 4 of Gov. Brad Little’s reopening plan. Central District Health moved Ada County back to Stage 3 in late June.
In Moscow, the Menard Law Building has re-opened and COVID-19 testing is required for all Moscow-based students. Fall classes are expected to be taught in a HyFlex format, where students can attend in-class or online instruction. That is anticipated to continue until Thanksgiving and then online for the rest of the semester. Fall exams will be administered online.
Face masks will be required and, to allow for physical distancing, classrooms and break rooms are limited to 50% maximum occupancy.
The incoming class of first-year law students is half Idaho residents and half from out-of-state. The incoming class includes students from 21 states, Canada and Russia. All but 15 of the Concordia transfer students are from outside Idaho.
Thirty of the Concordia students who did not enroll in the University of Idaho’s law school wrote a letter last month seeking help from the attorneys general in Idaho and Oregon to find new schools. The students said Concordia had not provided required assistance in helping them enroll in another program.
Latonia Haney Keith, interim dean of Concordia’s law school, previously told the Idaho Statesman that Concordia had worked with 35 law schools to find places for the Boise students.
“The remaining faculty and staff worked one-on-one with all current and deposited students to ensure to the extent possible that every single student found a new law school home,” Haney Keith said in an email.