“I was truly overwhelmed that something like this would be created in my name. It is one of the great honors of my life.”
Steve Bracci, associate dean of first-year programs at Concord Law School, has been helping students pass the bar exam and first-year law students’ exam (FYLSE) for 45 years. He currently teaches a number of first-year and upper-division subjects and created the First-Year Intensive Program, a preparation program for the FYLSE.
“I am very fortunate in that I more or less fell into teaching and discovered that I had a real passion for doing so,” Bracci shares. “And that is what inspires me to keep going. I truly love what I am doing, and I thoroughly enjoy working with the students. For so many of our students, becoming a lawyer is a lifelong dream. Being able to help them realize that dream is incredibly rewarding!”
One of the ways Bracci has helped law students realize their dreams is through Concord Law School at Purdue Global.
“Prior to Concord, there was no such thing as online law school,” Concord Law School Dean Martin Pritikin says. “Steve was the one who founded Concord academically and helped create the curriculum. He is the centerpiece of the school and the only current faculty member who has been there from the beginning.”
In February 2023, Concord Law School celebrated its 25th anniversary with a weekend of events, including an awards dinner. It was at this dinner that the establishment of the Steven J. Bracci Bar Support Endowment Fund was announced. This is the first development campaign and endowment fund for Concord Law School. The endowment, named in honor of Bracci for his commitment to his students, will be used to provide programming and support for students as they prepare to pass the bar exam.
“To be a lawyer, you need to pass the bar exam,” Pritikin says. “It’s important for students to pass and important for the school to have a good bar pass rate. We owe it to our students to do everything we can to help. This fund will help support the continuation and improvement of our bar support efforts.”
“For many, taking the California bar exam is an expensive proposition,” Bracci explains. “Ideally, a student must be able to take time off from work to devote to properly preparing for the exam. In addition, the application fees are substantial, and, for out-of-state students, there are travel costs to be incurred. Hopefully, the endowment can help mitigate some of these expenses for students in need.”
This endowment would not have been possible without the help of a dedicated alumnus.
Conan Higgins graduated from Concord Law School in 2010. He spent 25 years in the Air Force, traveling around the world to help people, including airlifting soldiers out of Afghanistan and assisting Ukraine in its time of need. Over the years, he has worked as a general counsel for several corporations and was named General Counsel of the Year by two different organizations in 2022. Higgins attributes much of his success to Steve Bracci and Concord Law School and pledged the first $25,000 needed to establish the endowment.
“My path to becoming a lawyer could not have happened at a brick-and-mortar school,” Higgins says. “I was working on assignments and watching webinars on the other side of the world when I was deployed. Concord enables people who otherwise could not achieve their goals to pursue their dreams.”
Higgins first met Bracci in the summer of 2006, right before he took his FYLSE. Bracci would host review weekends for students who were able to fly in early. “There was a lot of pressure on me to pass,” Higgins recalls. “I was being shipped off with the Air Force the next day, and if I didn’t pass, it would put me behind in my studies. That review weekend was invaluable to me because it took some of the pressure off.”
Higgins is grateful for the resources Bracci provided, which enabled him to pass the FYLSE and, later, the bar exam. “Getting the degree is one thing; becoming a lawyer is another,” Higgins says. “The professors helped me pass my courses and get my degree, but Steve Bracci helped me become a lawyer. I owe it to the school and to future students to ensure that they have resources and support.”
Bracci was touched by Higgins’s contribution. “Conan is larger than life itself,” he says. “He has lived what seems like the equivalent of five lifetimes to date. I remember how hard he fought to get through law school with everything else he was balancing at the time, and I am humbled when he recounts some of his accomplishments since law school and claims little of it would have been possible without my help. Of course, I do not agree. Conan is the type of person who would have found a way to succeed!”
Reflecting on how Concord Law School has grown, Bracci is honored to have been a part of it and is looking forward to what the next quarter century will bring. “I could not have imagined something like this endowment occurring when I started with Concord 25 years ago,” he says. “We succeeded over the last 25 years by continually working to update and innovate the curriculum and the way it is delivered. I fully expect this to continue in the future. I have been honored to work with a tremendous faculty and administration, and I’m excited to continue working with the students as they tackle the regulatory exams.”