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InfiLaw Hits Roadblock in Charleston Law Sale
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The state of South Carolina must approve of InfiLaw before the company can purchase Charleston School of Law.

Summary: The sale of Charleston School of Law to InfiLaw has been delayed now that the state of South Carolina must approve of InfiLaw.

Charleston School of Law, a private South Carolina law school, has been in negotiations for many months requiring the potential sale of the school to capital-backed InfiLaw, which owns several other law schools. However, according to the National Law Journal, the sale may not move forward as quickly as the parties would like.

  
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The American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar deferred action on InfiLaw’s request for acquiescence in the sale on December 6. During the two-day meeting in Puerto Rico, the council determined that state regulators must first approve of InfiLaw.

Barry Currier, the managing director for legal education at the ABA, said, “There was no decision reached on the merits.” In response, InfiLaw issued a written statement on Monday that claims the delay may put Charleston Law at risk. “As we have noted since we announced our intention to purchase the Charleston School of Law, InfiLaw is the only organization with a source of capital and capacity to tackle the financial challenges facing the school and is prepared to do so upon approval of the regulatory bodies and completion of the sale. No other viable option has been presented which has both the financial capacity and the experience in owning and operating a successful law school,” the statement read. According to InfiLaw, delaying the sale will only cause more financial problems for the school.

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It will likely be February before the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education takes action on the acquisition, a memo from the ABA’s Accreditation Committee noted. In November, the Accreditation Committee suggested that the Council approve the sale, subject to state commission approval.

InfiLaw owns Arizona Summit Law College, Charlotte School of Law, and Florida Coastal School of Law. In August 2013, InfiLaw announced that it planned to acquire Charleston Law. In May, InfiLaw sought approval by the state commission, but a committee voted against the sale. InfiLaw withdrew its application before the full committee considered the proposed sale.

Read about the withdrawal of InfiLaw’s application.

Charleston Law was opened in 2004 by five attorneys. Two of the founders have been bought out with money borrowed from InfiLaw. The three remaining founders are split on the sale: two support InfiLaw, and the other has proposed transforming the law school into a nonprofit that he would oversee. In November, a newly appointed president noted the infighting going on in the school, and resigned merely eight days after she started.

Read about the nonprofit proposed by one of the founders.

Students, many faculty members, and a large number of alumni have joined against the sale, arguing that InfiLaw would accept less qualified students, thereby lowering the quality of education offered at Charleston Law.

Read more about the opposition to the sale.

InfiLaw states that the school is facing a significant drop in enrollment and revenue and will need InfiLaw’s financial resources to move forward. ABA documents state that Charleston Law anticipates an operating deficit for the fiscal year due to decreased enrollment, as many other law schools across the country have faced as well. The law school may need to reduce the size of its faculty. Charleston Law enrolled 537 students in 2013. In 2011, it enrolled 702.

Photo credit: charlestoncitypaper.com



 

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