College of Charleston met with InfiLaw on possible purchase of Charleston School of Law
The College of Charleston and InfiLaw System have met about the purchase of the Charleston School of Law, but who attended that meeting and what was discussed there remains a mystery.
In a prepared statement this month, InfiLaw officials said they had a binding contract to buy the Charleston School of Law, but they had reached out to the College of Charleston to determine if the college had the means and ability to purchase and manage the law school.
Company representatives said they also were willing to talk to officials at the University of South Carolina’s law school. They also said they would continue the process to obtain an operating license from the state’s Commission on Higher Education, which would be required if they were to finalize the sale and take over the law school.
In another statement last week, InfiLaw leaders said they had met with senior representatives from the College of Charleston and discussed proprietary information. They did not state what kind of information was discussed or who attended the meeting. They also said they might meet again.
Charleston School of Law spokesman Andy Brack and College of Charleston spokesman Mike Robertson both said nobody at their institutions had further comment beyond the statement from InfiLaw.
Law school leaders announced in the summer that they had entered into a management services agreement with InfiLaw, which owns three other for-profit law schools. They subsequently announced that a sale had been in the works.
Many students, alumni and members of the state’s legal community have said they are opposed to a sale to InfiLaw, because they thought the company’s other schools have a reputation of being “diploma mills.” They wanted law school owners to explore other options.
The state’s Commission on Higher Education this month waived a clause in the school’s operating license agreement that prevented law school leaders from discussing such matters with the College of Charleston and other public schools. College of Charleston officials have said they wanted to consider making the law school part of the college.
Edward Westbrook, one of the law school’s founders and a member of its three-member board, had asked the commission to waive the prohibition. Westbrook was opposed to the sale to InfiLaw, and is pushing InfiLaw and the two other law school board members, Robert Carr and George Kosko, to consider other options.
Julie Carullo, the commission’s deputy director, said InfiLaw has applied for a license to run Charleston School of Law. The earliest the application will be considered is at the licensing committee’s January meeting, she said.
Rob Wilcox, dean of the USC School of Law, said he has not received any direct inquiries about the Charleston school. But, “in my opinion, our state is best served by funding only one public law school and by not acquiring a second law school,” Wilcox said.
“If the state decides, however, that it should fund some form of public legal education in Charleston, I am confident that we could most efficiently provide that education as a part of our existing law school.”
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.