I have followed the ongoing and often heated discussion about InfiLaw's contract to purchase the Charleston School of Law.

As a graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law who has practiced here in Charleston for over 10 years, it has been disheartening to read the undue criticism that has been leveled against my school and InfiLaw, the consortium of law schools to which it belongs.

What has not been mentioned are the many contributions that Florida Coastal lawyers and judges have made to the Charleston and South Carolina legal and business communities.

It may come as a surprise to many non-lawyers, but most law schools do not explicitly prepare their graduates to practice law. Rather, they focus on theory and expect that their graduates will learn how to practice once they have their first jobs.

Florida Coastal and the other InfiLaw schools take a different approach. They emphasize providing graduates with real world practical training and experience, allowing them to hit the ground running once they begin to practice law, as I did.

Graduates are equipped with knowledge and skills related to technology, innovation and important interpersonal skills, which the evolving legal marketplace increasingly demands.

This approach has served me well as I, and many of my Florida Coastal colleagues, have built successful practices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina.

The Charleston School of Law is a fine law school that has prepared its students well. This year I have hired a graduate from each school, and I have found them both equally prepared for their futures here in the Charleston legal community.

As competition for jobs becomes even more intense, I believe InfiLaw's resources will only contribute beneficially to the Charleston School of Law and the community. Moreover, nothing will be able to take away from the additional contributions that the school has created for our community.

As the discussion about InfiLaw's purchase of Charleston School of Law continues, I hope that the community will remember the unmatched resources that InfiLaw brings to Charleston in terms of developing clinics, encouraging community service and pro bono work, enhancing technology and improving the facilities. I have seen it firsthand at Florida Coastal.

Most importantly, amidst all the rhetoric, I hope and respectfully request that the contribution, success and pride of Florida Coastal graduates practicing here will not continue to be overlooked.

Edward L. Phipps

Phipps Law Firm

W. Coleman Boulevard

Mount Pleasant