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Concordia Students Get Good News, Hunker Down to Study for Idaho Bar Exam


- Ray Grooms (left) and Bob Crowder (right) will take the Idaho Bar exam in July. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Ray Grooms (left) and Bob Crowder (right) will take the Idaho Bar exam in July.
Concordia University School of Law student Bob Crowder got word that he'd be taking the Idaho Bar exam informally. 

"I had a faculty member give me a thumbs-up," he said. 

He and other Concordia Law students had signed up for the bar exam, which takes place on Concordia's downtown Boise campus in July, but knew that if the school was again denied provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association American Bar Association again delayed granting the school provisional accreditation they'd be barred from taking the exam. The ABA approved Concordia's accreditation at its most recent meeting, clearing the way for the law school's students to take the test.

Crowder came to Boise from Colorado, where he was "getting skiing out of my system" after graduating from college during the Great Recession. His father, a retired Colorado judge, was the first person he called to deliver the news. 

Ray Grooms, who will also be taking the Bar exam in July, came to Boise from Atlanta, Ga., where he served in the military and as a firefighter. His wife, Heather, a Washington native, drew him to the Northwest and he chose Concordia because he wanted something new. Now, he'll be one of the first nine Concordia students who will get to take the bar.

"It's not every day you get to be first at something," he said about his experience at the law school.

American Bar Association rules make new law schools operate for two years before they can apply for provisional accreditation, but the ABA denied postponed its approval to Concordia after its first application, triggering a yearslong process of the school applying for—and being denied postponed—the right for its graduates to take the bar. On June 6, former Idaho Supreme Court Justice and Concordia Law School Dean Cathy Silak received an encouraging phone call from the ABA.

"It was a friendly phone call. The gentleman didn't waste any time telling me we'd been approved," she said. 

Silak said that though she was confident Concordia would receive its accreditation, "we were not taking this as a done deal."

Crowder and Grooms held similar attitudes toward the possibility that they'd get to sit for the bar in 2015, but both had planned to finish their legal educations at Concordia anyway. When a slew of law students transferred away from the law school in 2014 after it became apparent that they wouldn't be able to sit for the exam in February 2015, class sizes suddenly became smaller, and, according to Grooms, it was "impossible to hide" from professors calling on students to answer questions in class.

"It brought us closer together. We had more of a common mindset: We were the ones who wanted to stay [at Concordia]," Crowder told said. 

Now that Concordia's first crop of bar-eligible students is about to embark on legal careers, Silak offered a few words of wisdom.

"They should keep in their minds the values of service, professionalism and ethics," she said.