Bar Exam

Indiana Supreme Court releases proposal allowing grads of nonaccredited law schools to take the bar

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The Indiana Supreme Court is now seeking comment on a proposed amendment allowing graduates of non-American Bar Association-accredited law schools to sit for the Indiana bar exam.

This follows moves by Purdue Global Law School, a California-based online law school not accredited by the ABA, to petition for rule changes to allow its students to take the Indiana bar.

The proposed amendment to Admission and Discipline Rule 13, as spelled out in the proposed Section 4, would let graduates of a nonaccredited school sit the Indiana bar exam under two sets of circumstances:

• If they graduated from a nonaccredited school but are eligible to sit for the bar in another jurisdiction.

• If they completed legal education outside the U.S. but received a graduate degree in American law from an ABA-approved school.

In either instance, the state Board of Law Examiners must find the applicants qualified to take the Indiana bar exam by education or experience. That decision is subject to the approval of the state supreme court.

In April, the Indiana State Bar Association wrote the state supreme court, voicing its opposition.

Currently, graduates of Purdue Global can take the bar in the school’s home state of California, where it is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. That jurisdiction does not prohibit non-ABA-accredited law schools from taking its bar exam. In February 2023, 62% of Concord’s first-time test takers passed the California bar exam, according to the State Bar of California. Results by school from the July 2023 administration of the bar were not released at press time.

In 2022, the law school filed a petition for a rule change regarding sitting for the Indiana bar with the state supreme court. The court appointed a working group, but it could not reach a consensus on what should happen. The group released a report in February of this year enumerating the proposal’s pros and cons.

The deal for West Layfette, Indiana-based Purdue University to purchase Concord Law, previously part of the for-profit Kaplan University, was finalized in 2018. The school changed its name from Concord Law School to Purdue Global Law School this month.

Martin Pritikin, dean of Purdue Global, said in an email to the ABA Journal that allowing the school’s students to take the Indiana bar would bring more lawyers to rural areas.

“Our efforts to expand access to the Indiana bar were always about getting more lawyers where they are needed and not about filling seats.” The school has about 20 Indiana-based students, he says.

“It’s also premature for us to comment at this point about whether we may pursue ABA approval or when,” he says.

Nationwide, there are four lawyers per 1,000 residents, according to the ABA Profile of the Legal Profession. Indiana is on the lower end, with 2.3 lawyers per 1,000 residents.

Of the 197 ABA-approved law schools, three are in Indiana—Notre Dame Law School, Indiana University Maurer School of Law and IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

ABA Standard 702 requires law schools to have physical facilities.

Comments on the proposal are due by 12 p.m. ET on Dec. 15.

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