Paul L. Caron

Sunday, February 3, 2019

After Rebuffing Sale To InfiLaw, Dean Says Charleston Law School 's Conversion To Nonprofit Will Be Completed In 2020

Charleston Logo (2017)Post and Courier, Charleston School of Law Still Recovering From Turbulence:

The ripple effect of an ill-fated business deal still haunts the Charleston School of Law, but leaders say they are taking steps to improve the school’s services and bolster its reputation.

The for-profit school was only 10 years old when its founders attempted to sell it to an outside group, Florida-based InfiLaw System, in 2013. The deal-makers met a formidable foe: a well-organized posse of fresh law school graduates who felt the sale would damage their alma mater’s future by lowering its standards.

The alumni rallied, protested and matched wits with their opponents — and they won. The sale was called off, and today the school is in the midst of a shift from for-profit to nonprofit status.

The school’s management agreement with InfiLaw ended in 2015, and a new president and part-owner, attorney Ed Bell, took the helm in October 2015 promising to open a new chapter in the school’s history.

Bell’s splashiest proposal at the time, making the school a nonprofit, is still in the works as the school files paperwork with multiple regulatory groups. As part of the process, the school has paid off $6 million it owed to InfiLaw after backing out of the deal — partly using the school’s funds, partly using Bell’s own money, according to the attorney. Bell said he believes the school can complete the transition by early 2020.

InfiLaw, which was previously a consortium of three for-profit law schools with low acceptance standards, has not fared well. Its Charlotte School of Law closed in August 2017, and another of its schools, Arizona Summit Law School, lost its accreditation in June 2018. A third InfiLaw school, Florida Coastal School of Law, remains open in Jacksonville, Fla. ...

One lingering effect of the InfiLaw deal can be seen in the law school’s low bar exam pass rates. Just 43 percent of exam takers from the school passed the South Carolina Bar Examination in July 2018, compared to 76 percent at the public University of South Carolina School of Law.

Charleston School of Law’s bar passage rates have lagged for years, a phenomenon that Bell and other college officials have blamed in part on the InfiLaw deal. Some of the school’s top-performing students transferred out shortly after the deal was announced in 2015. Bell said the influx of Charlotte transfers might also be a factor. ...

Change is coming, Bell said. With more applicants each year, the cutoff LSAT scores for entry to the Charleston School of Law are on the rise. “It’s becoming harder to get in. Our profile of students has gone up,” Bell said.

Here are Charleston's admissions data from Law School Transparency:


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