School of Law founders proceeding with plan to sell to InfiLaw System

Judge Robert Carr talks with Charleston School of Law student Lauren Luviano after a meeting with students at the Charleston Music Hall last month.

Charleston School of Law founders are moving forward with their plan to sell the school to the for-profit InfiLaw System.

Retired U.S. magistrate judges George C. Kosko and Robert S. Carr, two of the three remaining founders and board members of the law school, sent a letter to the Charleston School of Law community Wednesday stating that they planned to proceed with the controversial plan.

Kosko and Carr said in August that they were willing to consider well thought out and financially responsible alternatives for the school’s future, but they didn’t receive any proposals by their Oct. 1 deadline.

Charleston lawyer Peter Wilborn, who represents the school’s Alumni Board, said Edward Westbrook, another founder and board member of the school, last week presented a solid and well thought out plan. But Kosko and Carr dismissed it in favor of adhering to “a phony deadline to sweeten the pot” for themselves financially, Wilborn said.

Many students, alumni and members of the local community have expressed outrage at the potential sale to InfiLaw, which they think could diminish the value of a Charleston School of Law degree. The company owns three other law schools, which many consider to be “diploma mills.”

Westbrook stated in his proposal that at least three other alternatives to InfiLaw exist:

Paying Kosko and Carr a portion of the value of their shares, and remaining a limited liability corporation while the school stabilizes. Kosko and Carr could stay on as board members, but the school also would have respected members of the legal community join the board. Kosko and Carr could redeem the rest of their interests after things have calmed down.

Redeeming all of Kosko’s and Carr’s interests, just as it did for Alex Sanders and Ralph McCullough, the final two of the original five founders.

Exploring transferring ownership of the school to the College of Charleston. Westbrook said that if that option were selected, he would be willing to donate his entire one-third ownership interest to the college.

Westbrook also asked the state’s Commission on Higher Education to waive for 90 days a prohibition in the school’s operating license agreement and allow law school leaders to discuss the matter with the College of Charleston. The commission might consider his request at a meeting Thursday.

In their letter, Kosko and Carr stated that “No one submitted an application wanting to buy the law school. While some people and groups have proposed vague alternative proposals, no one has come forward saying, ‘We want to buy the law school, and here are our plans to run it.’”

College of Charleston spokesman Mike Robertson said the college had no statement Wednesday on the Charleston School of Law.

InfiLaw has signed a contract to buy the law school, Kosko and Carr stated, and they plan to move ahead to close the transaction with the company. InfiLaw also has filed an application seeking approval of the transfer of ownership with the state’s Commission on Higher Education, they stated.

Daniel Cooper, president of the law school’s Student Bar Association, said he was disappointed by Kosko’s and Carr’s announcement. He had hoped people with a stake in the school would meet for a discussion on what was best for its future.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.