Paul L. Caron

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maryann Jones, Hired as Charleston Law School President Under Renewable 3-Month Contract, Resigns After 8 Days on the Job

ICCharleston Post and Courier, New Charleston School of Law President Steps Down:

Maryann Jones has stepped down as the Charleston School of Law's president after only eight days on the job.

The law school has been embroiled in a controversy for more than a year over the possible sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System, which owns three other law schools.

Two of the school's three owners, George Kosko and Robert Carr, are in favor of the sale. But Ed Westbrook, the third owner, is pushing to form a nonprofit corporation to run the 10-year-old school, which also is for-profit.

But the owners voted unanimously Nov. 13 to hire Jones as president.

In an email sent late Thursday to Kosko, Carr and Abrams, Jones said she decided not to take the reins of the private, downtown law school, and would not sign a contract. "The level of vitriol, with all sides making me a lightning rod for an unfortunate situation that was not of my making, makes this truly a situation that I am unwilling at this stage of my life to undertake." Jones stated in the email.

Westbrook earlier Thursday had sent Jones a letter expressing his disappointment in her speaking to faculty and students in support of a sale to InfiLaw. To get his vote, Jones had agreed to be objective, and to learn more about alternatives for the school, Westbrook stated.

He also stated that he was disappointed that Jones hadn't yet met with him and his attorney Dawes Cooke to discuss the school's future. Westbrook's letter also revealed that Jones was being offered only a three-month contract.

FITS News, CSOL President Steps Down Due To Bullying By Director

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education | Permalink



90% are working in the profession in five years? Ordinarily, I don't like calling people liars on the Internet, but man, you are pushing it. Let's review the evidence:

- 67% bar passage rate in the summer, sub 50% in February. And second-time passage rates drop off a cliff for CSOL grads, from what I have seen. There's a real Xeno's Paradox issue with even getting to a 90% lifetime bar passage rate for CSOL, let alone getting all of those grads to be absorbed by the profession. Speaking of which, ...

- according to the ABA, barely 1 in 3 CSOL grads are landing in the profession within nine months of graduation. I can aver that after nine months, law school grads do not all magically find employment, but rather become members of the dreaded long-term unemployed.

Side note: default rates mean nothing, as law students can borrow 100% of the COA in federal loans and have the ability to put them on IBR/PAYE and be considered in good standing forever even if they are unemployed and making $0.00 payments. What are the IBR/PAYE and forbearance & deferral rate for CSOL grads, I wonder? One of the highest average student debtloads of any law school - $149k (excluding interest and undergrad debt), combined with that ~35% employment rate, would lead one to assume that the economic hardship enrollments are very high indeed.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 29, 2014 3:34:48 PM

Cognitive dissonance appears to be epidemic among those of us in higher education. Please keep in mind that I am a former, not current, tenured professor with InfiLaw’s Charlotte School of Law. I now enjoy teaching undergraduates as a refreshing change of pace. As such, I have no dog in this fight. I would like to mention a few relevant facts, however, that seem unknown to many contributors to this thread:
1. Approximately 9 out of 10 InfiLaw students have a job as an attorney within 5 years of graduation, according to an alumni survey and a class of 2013 ABA report.
2. InfiLaw schools have 2.1 Academic Support and Bar Preparation employees per 300 students, more than double the average of comparable law schools.
3. The default rate for InfiLaw students is, according to Department of Education data, about 1.6%, compared to 7.3% in the University of North Carolina system, 8.0% in the University of Arizona system, and 9.3% in the University of Florida system.
4. LSAC data show that, although students of color on average entered law school with academic credentials that were significantly lower than those of white students, as measured by UGPA and LSAT scores, their eventual bar passage rates justified admission practices that look beyond those measures.
5. Racial diversity in the legal profession is a persistent problem (only 11.9% in 2010) that warrants flexibility in both admissions criteria and in academic success initiatives.
6. InfiLaw schools account for about 5% of the racially diverse matriculates nationwide.
7. Charlotte School of Law minority enrollment is 3.54 times the average of all other North Carolina schools for 2013-14.
8. Similarly, Arizona Summit has minority enrollment of 3.70 times the average of the other Arizona law schools for 2013-14.
9. The correlation between LSAT and success in law school remains uncertain at best, with multiple factors affecting any individual’s prospects.
I don’t wish to belabor the point, but suffice it to say that the picture of InfiLaw as the money-gobbling Leviathan of legal academe belongs in a manga graphic novel, not on a law professor blog. The facts are far more complex and multi-faceted than the fantasy too often represented here in the guise of established dogma.
Respectfully submitted,
John Charles Kunich

Posted by: Prof. John C. Kunich | Nov 28, 2014 7:46:51 AM

Since we are talking about debt and opportunities, it should be mentioned that Lamar Alexander, who is now the point man for the HEA renewal, wants to limit graduate loans to $150,000 and appears to want to eliminate PSLF, at least going by his HEA proposal this summer. Which would mean 1) CSOL students would at least have to partially dip into the well of private student loans and 2) public service attorneys would have to deal with an additional decade of repayment and the tax bomb that PAYE/IBR students currently face.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 25, 2014 6:56:40 AM

Unemployed Northeastern, I have to assume that the 4 Charlotte grads in BigLaw are employed as contract or staff attorneys. Even a Charlotte grad with connections would have a very difficult time landing in a true BigLaw associate position. Therefore, it is unlikely that any of Charlotte Law grads will have the salary to pay off the debt.

Posted by: Anon1 | Nov 25, 2014 6:17:45 AM

Also, John, you are an instructor, not a professor at UNC-C.

Posted by: Tom M | Nov 25, 2014 6:14:02 AM


Cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing. I believe you truly believe what you write, but you could not be more mistaken. InfiLaw is a diploma mill but by private equity investors who want to profit at any cost to society. The schools prey are the dimmest of potential applicants, promising a future that is almost certainly not possible. I know a couple top-ranked graduates of InfiLaw schools that are still struggling to find work. Sure, it is tough for many law graduates, but it should not be impossible for almost all of a school's graduates.

You and everyone at InfiLaw should be ashamed of your use of "diversity" and "opportunity." Anyone with any sense know that is a weak facade attempting to hide pure greed. InfiLaw stifles 10x, if not 100x, more opportunity than it provides. InfiLaw shackles its diverse student body with a lifetime of nondischabarle, suffocating debt, without a reasonable way to repay.

Talk to a healthy sampling of InfiLaw graduates and truly listen. Do not cherry pick the very small handful who, by luck or connections, may make enough to repay their federally guaranteed loans.

I also know some InfiLaw professors and they all seem to be good people. Some of them are even quite bright. That is all beside the point. Additionally, the honest and self-aware professors are growing more and more uncomfortable by the false hope communicated to incoming students and the miserable outcomes.

Finally, simply comparing InfiLaw schools to some of the worst "non-profit" schools does not help. They very worse non-profit schools should be closed as well.

Posted by: Tom M | Nov 25, 2014 5:56:22 AM

Professor Kunich,

You say that Infilaw is deserving of so much more than the puerile comments aimed at it here. I agree. Puerile comments make the real criticism easier to dismiss. It is deserving of unanimous, thoughtful condemnation from the rest of the legal world. Infilaw sells people on dreams that are basically impossible to realize. It leaves them unemployed and in huge debt, and sticks taxpayers with the bill. The only people Infilaw serves are employed at Infilaw.

Posted by: JM | Nov 25, 2014 5:19:17 AM

@Prof Kunich,

Respectfully, CSOL has:

-a 144 median LSAT, down from 149 in 2010,

- costs $61k per year, a figure that has historically increased 4.89% annually,

- only 129 of 350 grads from 2013 found full time, long term, license required jobs within nine months of graduation at any salary.

- a 65% bar passage rate in July and a 47% passage rate in February.

As far as I can see, the only people who come out well from CSOL, aside from the profs and staff, are the 4 students out of 350 who landed Biglaw and might be able to start paying down their $180,000 in student loans.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 24, 2014 3:37:13 PM

As an experienced law professor who served for several years as a senior, tenured member of the faculty at Charlotte School of Law, I know a great deal about InfiLaw and its law schools. I have also participated in debates at Charleston School of Law with the Federalist Society, and I know a few of the faculty members there.

I am almost as dismayed by the tenor of some of the comments posted on this site as I am by the horrendous behavior attributed to CSOL co-owner Ed Westbrook. My knowledge of InfiLaw and the dedicated professors at CSOL tells me that Mr. Westbrook is, at best, mistaken as to what is in the best interests of CSOL and everyone associated with it. InfiLaw is a quality organization. Not everyone agrees with its vision, but it is honestly held and deserving of so much better than the puerile comments aimed at it here.

When a law school is struggling, isn't it best to be open to a paradigm shift, even if that direction is not one's first inclination? InfiLaw schools have achieved admirable levels of success among a highly diverse student pool during the most challenging times legal education has seen in generations. Rather than derive perverse satisfaction from the obstacles facing CSOL, people from nominally not-for-profit law schools should try to learn some valuable lessons applicable to all law schools. These are times of rapid evolution and unprecedented problems. Those who will not bend with the changes face genuine risks of breaking, and breaking bad.

Respectfully submitted,
Professor John Charles Kunich
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Posted by: Prof. John C. Kunich | Nov 24, 2014 2:19:02 PM

in the financial industry, you can tell the "boiler rooms" (popularized recently with the wolf of wall street) by the high turnover rate in the first few weeks. Honest people figure out quickly that an organization is effectively criminal and quit rather than attach their reputation to that organization no matter how desperate for a job they may be.

Infilaw is designed to monazite law student access to federal student loan dollars, full stop.

The moral gymnastics necessary to work for infilaw approach those of tobacco industry "scientists."

Posted by: terry malloy | Nov 23, 2014 7:22:24 AM

Shut the damn place down, then go find some more ambulance chaser factories and repeat the process. Really, is there ANYONE in America that isn't absolutely certain we've got way, way, way too many shysters in the place already?

Posted by: mac | Nov 23, 2014 5:53:20 AM

Sounds like some people invested at the end of a bubble.

Posted by: teapartydoc | Nov 23, 2014 4:47:14 AM

I would have assumed "InfiLaw" meant an "Infidel of the Law" or perhaps "InfinitiLaw - you know, like Lexus but more differenter".

Posted by: 1911Man | Nov 22, 2014 5:18:28 PM

Unemployed Northeastern, Bravo. Schadenfreude tastes great with beer and pine nuts.

Posted by: rocinante3d | Nov 22, 2014 5:17:11 PM

Northeastern -- There is nothing quite so enjoyable as a good (or rotten) pun appearing unexpectedly out of an otherwise clear sky. Mi felicitaciones!

Posted by: saj | Nov 22, 2014 4:49:06 PM

InfiLaw? An infinity of laws.

Posted by: Lars Aplenty | Nov 22, 2014 2:13:55 PM

And here I am eating river herring while reading "Interpretation of Dreams." That's right, everybody - I'm enjoying some shad and Freud!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 22, 2014 7:39:12 AM