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South Carolina Legislature Steps into Charleston Law Sale Battle
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Members of the South Carolina legislature are attempting to block the sale of the Charleston School of Law to InfiLaw.

Summary: Several members of the South Carolina legislature have voted in favor of a non-profit’s taking over Charleston School of Law, as opposed to InfiLaw, a corporation that is attempting to purchase the school.

Fits News reports that government efforts to impede the sale of the Charleston School of Law to InfiLaw, a corporation that owns three other law schools in the United States, continued this week. Ten local lawmakers voted in favor of a “non-profit” that has been proposed as an alternative to the sale.

  
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Ed Westbrook organized the non-profit. Westbrook is a minority owner of the Charleston School of Law who remains bound and determined to upset the sale to InfiLaw. However, many see Westbrook as a “paper tiger” who will set the school up for an eventual government takeover.

Read more about InfiLaw’s troubles in purchasing the Charleston School of Law.

Such a takeover would become a realistic possibility if the sale remains at a standstill before the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, which has not yet issued a license to InfiLaw. The Commission on Higher Education has recommended granting the license to InfiLaw, and the American Bar Association ruled in favor of the sale from an accreditation perspective last month. Next, the license application must be ruled upon.

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Westbrook has stated that his non-profit was necessary since InfiLaw “failed to gain approval.” He has repeatedly insisted that his nonprofit “will not seek and does not want any state funding. Let me repeat that because there’s been a lot of misinformation: The non-profit does not want and will not seek any state funding.”

Most students and alumni of Charleston School of Law oppose the sale. Read more here.



However, when asked how the school would continue operating, Westbrook did not offer a clear answer. Charleston School of Law will need at least $15 million to stay open. Westbrook said, “I’m willing to commit my funds to operate the law school.” However, no additional detail was given.

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Westbrook also claimed that alumni have committed $1 million to the non-profit, and that faculty have pledged another $1 million, but Westbrook has offered no documentation to support those claims. However, another $13 million would still be needed to keep the school in operation.

Read more about the non-profit Westbrook started in this article.

Ten of twenty-two members of the Charleston legislative delegation voted in favor of the non-profit. Senator Larry Grooms made the motion to endorse the proposal, though he is commonly thought of as a “free market” supporter.

However, not all were in agreement with the proposal by Westbrook. Senator Paul Thurmond actually abstained from the vote, and said it was inappropriate for a vote to be held on the matter before the Commission on Higher Education decided the issue. Senator Marion Kimpson and State Representative Seth Whipper agreed. Earlier this year, a group of lawmakers led by Representative Eric Bedingfield and House minority leader Todd Rutherford encouraged the state to leave the deal alone. Many feel that the government should not block a private transaction.

Photo credit: charlestonbusiness.com



 

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