The issue of the operation of our local school of law finds itself on your pages regularly, yet never seems to find a solution that satisfies all.
The school is a wonderful addition to our educational landscape, and its independence from the University of South Carolina School of Law has benefitted the state bar substantially by creating another path to the practice and the service of the law.
With Charleston Law on the scene, our bar is no longer as parochial and inbred.
We should do all in our power to keep it serving the public through its independence. I have been privileged to teach there almost since its founding and have found my students to be of high quality as is its faculty.
The issue of its private ownership as part of InfiLaw does, however, present a threat to its unique mission.
We cannot be sure that rather than benefitting from the corporate ownership, it could instead find itself feeding its operating surplus to support the other schools owned by InfiLaw, which do not enjoy the same reputation for excellence that this school does.
Ownership as part of the College of Charleston has been mentioned as a possible solution and is favored by many as a simple solution. Regrettably, it is not so simple.
The bill recently introduced in the Legislature is likely to keep the organization of both MUSC and College of Charleston in limbo for some time, and even if enacted the mechanics of accomplishing the goal of including our law school will face delays.
Charleston Law is accredited by the American Bar Association but not by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
For the College of Charleston to operate it, it would have to be thusly accredited, and the college would have to be granted doctorate-granting privileges currently not available.
That will further delay its consideration, and InfiLaw I am sure would like to know whether it is going to be the operator long term or not.
I do not feel that is in the interest of the law school or the City of Charleston, but is there an easy solution?
There is. Ownership by the City of Charleston would fit a mold that is as ancient as the ownership of City Law School in London, which has absorbed the ancient and venerable Inns Of Court, and as diverse as schools in New York, Oklahoma City and other jurisdictions, which have found this approach meets their need.
It would not be a drain on the city as even with the current uncertainty, the law school is profitable.
I write this for our city fathers to mull and to the law school community to urge its support.
Robert E. Freer Jr.
BB&T Visiting Professor
Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership
School of Business Administration
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