Charleston School of Law graduates talk about fighting possible sale of school
Graduates of the Charleston School of Law are so alarmed by the possible sale of the school to InfiLaw System that they are considering ways to stop it.
Bar exam pass rate
Charleston School of Law
*Charlotte School of Law
*Florida Coastal School of Law
*Phoenix School of Law
Source: Law School Admission Council
Current students grew more outraged Friday, when they couldn't get answers to their questions on the school's future from its leaders.
The law school released a statement Thursday evening, which said it had entered into a management services agreement with InfiLaw System, a group that owns three other for-profit law schools. Such arrangements sometimes are the first step in a sale. But law school leaders refused to respond Thursday and Friday to questions on whether the school will be sold.
Law school spokesman Andy Brack said Friday that the school will hold a town hall meeting sometime next week. At that meeting, students and graduates will be able to get answers to their questions from administrators, he said.
But Kathleen Chewning, president of the Charleston School of Law Alumni Association and more than 20 other members of the association's board aren't waiting until that meeting to begin discussing possible action. They held their first teleconference Friday to discuss the possible sale. Many of them think the sale could be harmful to their careers because InfiLaw schools are perceived as lower-quality schools.
Chewning said that as of Friday, most alumni she has talked with want to discuss ways they can prevent any sale.
She also said that she and other students need more information on InfiLaw before they can make informed decisions.
Charleston School of Law billed itself as a school that served the community, Chewning said. That was a factor in many students' decision to attend the school. “InfiLaw is seen more as having a profit motive than serving the community,” she said.
Incoming first-year students Friday continued to post messages of concern, frustration and anger on a closed-group, interactive page on Facebook. Some screen shots were provided to the newspaper.
Brack said that two of the five founders of the school — Alex Sanders and Ralph McCullough — are no longer on the board. The other three founders — Edward Westbrook, Robert Carr and George Kosko — “redeemed” their interest in the school.
InfiLaw currently owns three other law schools: Charlotte School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law and Phoenix School of Law.
Representatives from the company did not return calls for comment Friday. And the front page of the company's website contained only one sentence: “Important announcement coming soon!”
The city of Charleston was extremely supportive of the law school's launch on the peninsula in 2004.
Charleston Mayor Riley said that it was jarring to him when he first heard about the possible sale. But now thinks it will be good for the school and the students.
By joining an existing law school system, he said, the school will have access to more resources.
He also said that a 1.25-acre lot on the corner of Meeting and Woolfe streets that the city purchased for $1.2 million and sold at a loss to the law school, will be included in the package if the school is sold. The law school purchased the lot for $875,000 in 2004. The city gave the school 10 years to pay for it.
At the time, Riley said the financial loss was “a necessary incentive” to keep the law school on the peninsula.
Riley said he didn't think students and graduates needed to be alarmed because the school, which always has been a for-profit operation, still will be the Charleston School of Law.
Dean Andy Abrams will remain the dean, Riley said. “The faculty will remain the same, and the facilities will remain the same. None of that will change.”
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.