The chief aim of the Charleston School of Law is to prepare people of high moral character to practice law in order to provide public service.
It’s an admirable goal, and one that the school’s faculty, students and alumni believe is important to maintain — so important that a small army of them is working feverishly to stop what many others say is inevitable: the purchase of CSOL by InfiLaw System.
On Wednesday, CSOL owners announced what most suspected. The “management agreement” with InfiLaw is actually the first step in a purchase agreement. The sale will be effective once the S.C. Commission on Higher Education and the American Bar Association approve it.
Good lawyers don’t give up on their cases easily, and CSOL advocates definitely haven’t given up on finding a credible alternative to InfiLaw, whose ownership they fear would diminish CSOL standards.
The school’s current owners want to pull back and retire. That is their prerogative. But they have agreed to entertain credible offers from others to purchase CSOL. Proposals must be submitted by Oct.1.
Alumni are following up on leads and offering any interested buyer their assistance in facilitating a proposal.
Indeed, one person, with tongue only partially in cheek, posted a notice on Craigslist: “ONE (1) currently ABA Accredited Law School for sale. Great location, convenient to everything! Easy access to Crosstown, I-26, King Street bars and restaurants. Off-street parking! Student body has been used.”
Alumni also intend to monitor very closely the process of CHE approval. They would prefer the school’s ownership to remain local, but failing that, they want to make dead sure that a new owner would operate it in a way that will uphold its academic standards, its mission and its close, supportive relationship with the legal community here and throughout the state.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, is also on the case. He is concerned that InfiLaw’s plans for CSOL might be inconsistent with criteria set by the Legislature aimed at maintaining the quality of higher education. Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, has also offered support.
The 10-year-old Charleston School of Law has proven an asset to the community, and has received local support, including a favorable deal on property from the city of Charleston.
It is an investment worth preserving and building upon.
And in order to do so, it must be end up in the right hands.