Staff at the state's Commission on Higher Education has recommended granting InfiLaw System a license to run the Charleston School of Law.
The commission will consider the staff's report and recommendation at its meeting Thursday in Columbia. It then could vote on whether to grant a license to InfiLaw.
The license is one of two remaining hurdles facing InfiLaw in its quest to buy and run the Charleston School of Law. It also must get approval from the American Bar Association.
Owners of the private law school announced in July that they had entered into a management services agreement with the private, for-profit InfiLaw System, which owns three other law schools. They subsequently announced that a sale was in the works.
InfiLaw spokeswoman Kathy Heldman said the recommendation is an important step in the process of gaining an operating license. "However, it is not the final step, and we look forward to what we expect to be a full and robust discussion of the recommendation at the upcoming CHE meeting."
Representatives from InfiLaw have worked closely with commission staff members over the past several months, she said, providing information and answering questions as they worked to determine whether InfiLaw met the statutory criteria for licensure.
"We continue to believe the addition of the Charleston School of Law to the consortium of InfiLaw schools is in the best interest of InfiLaw and Charleston," Heldman said.
Julie Carullo, the commission's deputy director, said earlier this week that the commission usually follows the staff's recommendations. But there have been instances where they have made changes to them, or deferred decisions based on them.
Many people with connections to the Charleston School of Law are strongly opposed to a sale to InfiLaw including: students, some faculty members, legal professionals and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. They have said that a sale to InfiLaw, which owns three other law schools, could diminish the value of a Charleston School of Law degree because InfiLaw schools are considered by some to be "diploma mills."
Andy Abrams, the law school's president and dean, said the ABA approval process also is in the works. No date has been set for that decision, but it could come as early as the summer or fall.
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.