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June 4, 2014

Vote on Charleston School of Law sale delayed

A for-profit company that wants to buy the Charleston School of Law will wait before it asks the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education to approve the sale.

A for-profit company that wants to buy the Charleston School of Law will wait before it asks the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education to approve the sale.

InfiLaw said Wednesday that it was temporarily suspending its application for a license to own and operate the law school at the request of Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia. The application was supposed to be considered by the commission Thursday but Courson said the panel isn’t at full strength.

“I think that it needs to be more thoroughly vetted and the Commission on Higher Education does not have a full composition of members,” Courson said. “They need to do that before they get into it. It’s late into the year. I’d like to see it fully vetted.”

The sale of the law school has gotten conflicting signals the recent weeks. The Commission on Higher Education’s staff recommending granting the license, but then a five-person committee on the commission rejected it. Then last week, Attorney General Alan Wilson issued an opinion that the commission should only consider whether InfiLaw meets the licensing requirements, not whether granting a license is in the best interest of the state.

“Given these circumstances, we want to give the commission additional time to consider and reconcile these issues, including responses to questions we submitted just a few days ago,” InfiLaw said in its statement.

InfiLaw has been trying to buy the 10-year-old private law school for about a year, but has faced opposition from students, alumni, faculty and one of three remaining co-founders. They said InfiLaw has a poor reputation, low rates of its graduates passing the bar and a mentality that profits are more important than a good education.

InfiLaw owns three American Bar Association-accredited law schools at Arizona Summit (formerly Phoenix), Charlotte and Florida Coastal.

InfiLaw said in its statement it plans to renew its application for a license to run the Charleston School of Law once the Commission on Higher Education gets its questions answered.

“We remain confident that we provide the brightest future for continuing the proud traditions and commitment to excellence of the Charleston School of Law, its faculty, staff and students and we look forward to continuing to demonstrate our commitment as we use this time to reach out to students, faculty and alumni to discuss why we are the best and only viable option to secure the future of the law school,” the company said.

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