Charleston Law School Sale: An Alumni Perspective
By Kyle M. Hobbs and Carson C. Murray || As is well known, last summer the founders of the Charleston School of Law (CSOL) announced their intention to sell itself to InfiLaw. As the media often notes, this announcement created opposition among some alumni and students. What has gone unnoticed is that there is also strong alumni support.
Change can create anxiety and breed speculation about the future, which is what seems to be driving the concern about the pending sale.
As lawyers we use facts to counter uncertainty and anxiety. So what are the facts and why do they point to a bright future for the Charleston School of Law?
If not for the vision of the Founders for a second law school in South Carolina, many of us would not have had the opportunity to earn a law degree and build a practice, which in turn would have deprived the state of talented legal advocates who are in positions of leadership across the state. You can also see the impact of CSOL on upper King Street, an area noticeably improved since CSOL moved in, which has meant financial growth for the City of Charleston.
This has created a feeling of ownership and fondness for our school that is so strong that some are fighting to preserve the past against the prospect of change. But we cannot hold back the future, just as those who originally opposed CSOL could not keep the future at bay.
But just as the Founders were visionaries and risk takers in their time, the future calls for new vision and risk taking because the legal profession is changing and so must legal education. As much as we love our school, it would be a mistake to think that it can continue with limited resources. CSOL must be prepared to educate lawyers for tomorrow or surely it will not flourish or perhaps even survive in the future.
Fortunately there is an alternative to the status quo. Through its ownership of three ABA accredited law schools, InfiLaw has developed the knowledge, experience and resources to help CSOL thrive. We know this because we work with several InfiLaw alumni and they are upstanding and knowledgeable attorneys. InfiLaw will also continue to increase the focus on recruiting a diverse student body to enrich the state with fresh perspectives and experiences. They will continue to provide many South Carolinians a chance to attend law school when the only other option is to go out of the state. In essence, InfiLaw will continue CSOL’s mission and maintain its culture while utilizing its vast resources and experience to grow the school into a more successful institution.
Most of us chose CSOL because we wanted to serve our community as lawyers and CSOL promised to give us the education to fulfill that dream. We knew the school was new and understood the amount of debt we would incur. We knew it was a difficult job market. And we should have known that the five founders could not own the school forever. But what some have forgotten is that the most important thing about CSOL is its students and alumni.
Under InfiLaw, we will be the same lawyers we are today. And will be proud graduates of a thriving law school rather than one that struggles to provide the technology and clinical-based education that is required today. We will still serve our clients to the best of our abilities and we will still love our profession. While we understand that this change has caused concern among some we must focus on using our legal training to improve our communities, not tearing down our alma mater. While we respect and understand the position of our peers in their uncertainty about the future, we urge all fellow alumni to dedicate our ideas and energy to supporting CSOL and InfiLaw in their efforts to make our law school better and ready for the 21st century practice of law.
Kyle Hobbs and Carson C. Murray are alumni of the Charleston School of Law and attorneys practicing in South Carolina