The last time the Commission on Higher Education formally discussed the Charleston School of Law, in October of this year, it took the dramatic step of altering the school’s license to allow negotiations to take place between the Charleston School of Law and any public school with an interest in acquiring or merging with the law school. The CHE did not take any action then about Infilaw’s application for a license to operate the school. The earliest any such formal action can be taken is in January of 2014.
In the intervening months, students and community leaders have continued to make their voices heard. In November, a comprehensive survey of the student body revealed that opposition to the Infilaw deal is overwhelming among current students, with a staggering number of students saying they would consider leaving the school if an Infilaw purchase is finalized. The results of the survey were forwarded to, among others, the CSOL founders. In characteristic fashion, the two current directors who favor the Infilaw sale, George Kosko and Robert Carr, responded to the survey by dismissing its relevance and misconstruing its results. The full survey, and the correspondence between the survey’s author and the directors is available here.
Student leaders didn’t stop there. At the behest of Infilaw and with open minds, students from the Charleston School of Law traveled to the two other Infilaw schools on the Eastern seaboard in an attempt to offer their fellow students a fair and unvarnished appraisal of those schools’ campuses, students, services, and cultures. The student leaders were welcomed by students and faculty at the other two schools and were permitted to visit classes, to meet directly with their student counterparts, and to ask questions of faculty, administrators, and staff. While the report recognized some bright spots in its comparison of the Infilaw schools to CSOL, the overwhelming consensus of the students was that the differences between the management and focus of the Infilaw schools—particularly with regard to curriculum—is at odds with the culture and approach of the Charleston School of Law. Their report—complete with responsive annotations from Infilaw representative Peter Gopelrud—is available here.
As students and alumni await the outcome of the CHE’s review of Infilaw’s application, and as negotiations between CSOL, Infilaw, and the College of Charleston appear to continue behind closed doors, many have asked directly or indirectly about the continuing involvement and position of founder Ed Westbrook, who has repeatedly and publicly offered alternatives to the Infilaw deal. Mr. Westbrook recently wrote a letter aimed at the current students of the law school in which he addresses many of those frequently asked questions. His letter to students and his answers to those questions is available here.
And just in the last week, North Charleston councilman Ron Brinson penned an Op-Ed in the Charleston Post and Courier advocating for an alternative to the Infilaw deal:
[A]midst so much anxiety and acrimony, there must be better options for the CSOL founders, InfiLaw — and the public interest.
The challenge question: who’s searching for those better options?
This school was parented by creative leadership and resolve, and that’s exactly what it needs now from the legal community, the maritime community, the economic development community — from the regional Charleston community.
As ever, the CSOL Alumni Association remains opposed to the Infilaw deal and confident that the CHE’s careful review of Infilaw’s application will lead the commission to the same conclusion. The facts about Infilaw and the overwhelming tide of opinion among the school’s many stakeholders and supporters are on our side.