It is well-documented that the last couple of years has been a bit of a “bumpy ride” for The Charleston School of Law. A decision by four of the owners to sell the law school to a for-profit entity threatened the very existence of the school and, most importantly, its core mission of educating future lawyers committed to community service in the form of pro bono legal services to the indigent and less privileged members of our community.
While there are many individuals who fought valiantly against the proposed sale, there are a few who merit particular attention. Ed Westbrook, also an owner, never wavered from his commitment that it remain a non-profit institution even though he undoubtedly stood to make a handsome profit if it were sold to a for-profit entity.
Ed Westbrook’s tireless efforts to preserve the law school as a non-profit institution inspired the community and its leaders to rally against the proposed sale.
Many of the professors at the school, some of whom lost their jobs when they expressed their opposition to the proposed sale, are to be commended for not sacrificing their commitment. Their actions, at great personal expense, likewise inspired all opposed to the proposed sale.
I can imagine no better lesson from a teacher to a student. I am hopeful these professors will all return to the law school.
The students who remained at the school not knowing the ultimate outcome of the proposed sale amid legitimate concerns that the value of their education would be diminished are, in my view, true heroes. Rather than transfer to another school, they chose to stay, to organize and to fight for the preservation of their school.
Dean Andy Abrams provided leadership and perseverance through this difficult time in the history of the law school and remains one of its most valuable assets.
Most importantly, school President J. Edward “Ed” Bell III is to be commended for his personal and financial commitment. His recent commencement address to the graduates earned my instant respect. Mr. Bell’s remarks focused not on his substantial contributions to the law school, but on the contributions of others in preserving it. I can think of no better person to lead it into the future than Ed Bell. Congratulations to Charleston School of Law and continued success into the future.