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:
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Charleston Law School Signs Management Agreement With InfiLaw. Is Sale Next? (July 27, 2013)
- Charleston Law School Agrees to Buyout by InfiLaw, but Solicits Other Offers (Aug. 28, 2013)
- ABA-Accredited Law School Listed for Sale on Craigslist (Sept. 10, 2013)
- Charleston Law School Faculty Oppose Sale to InfiLaw (May 15, 2014)
- South Carolina Committee Rejects InfiLaw Purchase of Charleston Law School (May 20, 2014)
- Charleston Law School Founders Withdrew $25 Million in Profits, Leaving School in Precarious Financial Condition (May 25, 2014)
- Charleston Law School Founder Opposes InfiLaw's Proposed Acquisition, Offers to Donate His 1/3 Interest to Create Nonprofit Law School (May 30, 2014)
- NY Times on InfiLaw's Proposed Acquisition of Charleston Law School (June 4, 2014)
- Charleston Law School Agrees to Buyout by InfiLaw, but Solicits Other Offers (Aug. 28, 2014)
- ABA Recommends Approval of Sale of Charleston Law School to InfiLaw (Nov. 9, 2014)
- Maryann Jones, Hired as Charleston Law School President Under Renewable 3-Month Contract, Resigns After 8 Days on the Job (Nov. 22, 2014)
- ABA Approves Duncan Law School, Defers Action on InfiLaw’s Acquisition of Charleston Law School (Dec. 9, 2014)
- InfiLaw Ramps Up Lobbying For Approval of Acquisition of Charleston Law School (Dec. 15, 2014)
- Local Government Rejects InfiLaw, Backs Nonprofit Takeover of Charleston Law School(Dec. 16, 2014)
- InfiLaw Op-Ed On Charleston Law School's Deteriorating Financial Position (Apr. 27, 2015)
- Charleston Law School May Not Enroll Students In Fall; Owners Who Withdrew $25m In Profits Refuse To Pay $21k For Graduation Reception; Students With $147k Average Debt Take Up Collection (May 7, 2015)
- 75% Of Charleston Faculty Put Their Jobs On The Line, Blast Law School's Management(May 16, 2015)
- Charleston Law School Lays Off Seven Additional Faculty, Announces Plans To Enroll Students For The Fall (May 24, 2015)
- Chronicle Of Higher Education: The Fight Over Charleston Law School (June 10, 2015)
- Two Fired Tenured Profs Sue Charleston Law School (July 3, 2015)
- Judge Grants TRO Reinstating Fired Tenured Charleston Law School Professor (Aug. 4, 2015)
- Amidst 48% Decline In 1L Class, Charleston Law School Admissions Dean Abruptly Resigns (Aug. 14, 2015)
- Charleston Law School Denies Tenure To Three Deserving Candidates Due To Financial Exigency (Aug. 15, 2015)
- Charleston Law School Files Counterclaims Against Two Fired Tenured Professors (Oct. 23, 2015)
- New Owner To Turn Charleston Law School Into Non-Profit, Ending Possibility Of Sale To Infilaw (Oct. 29, 2015)
- New Charleston Law School President Promises Students Jobs, New Campus (Nov. 9, 2015)
- Seven Fired Professors Return To Work At Charleston Law School, Despite 48% Decline In Enrollment (Mar. 30, 2016)
- Charleston, Florida Coastal Law Schools Fail 'Gainful Employment' Test, Will Lose Federal Student Loans If They Fail Again Next Year; Three Other Law Schools In Danger Zone (Jan. 12, 2017)
- Charleston Law School's Unexpected Rebound (July 11, 2017)