A closed door meeting at the Charleston School of Law (CSOL) has done little to assuage angry students and faculty – most of whom believe their institution has been sold down the river to a company specializing in the management of low-quality “diploma mills.”
The lengthy meeting – held Tuesday evening – featured the CEO of InfiLaw, the company which is entering into an undisclosed “management agreement” with CSOL’s remaining founders.
“We picked this school because we thought this school was special,” InfiLaw’s Rick Inatome told the crowd. “This school in terms of its faculty and students and community is unmatched and unparalleled in entire legal academy. That’s the jewel of this institution – and we will do everything to preserve and enhance that jewel.”
Given InfiLaw’s poor track record with its existing network of law schools, CSOL faculty and students were skeptical. In fact Inatome was booed when he rose to speak. He was also booed when he dismissed criticism of his company as “untrue.”
“We knew there would be reactions like that,” he said.
One of CSOL’s founders – Robert Carr – spoke just prior to Inatome, apologizing to faculty and students for not informing them of the school’s plans sooner.
“We should have known better – in this day of social media,” he said. “We should have gotten you information earlier.”
News of the CSOL-InfiLaw arrangement – which broke exclusively on FITS – has infuriated staffers, faculty and students. The deal also caused Judge Alex Sanders – a CSOL founder and the school’s longtime public face – to resign in protest along with fellow founder Ralph McCullough. Now, former magistrate George Kosko is effectively running the school.
“We are not changing anything,” Kosko vowed when it was his turn to address the restless natives.
Really? Then why do the deal?
InfiLaw has been widely criticized within the legal community for the inferior quality of its law degrees – as well as the steps it has taken to restrict student transfers. In fact a pair of professors at the Phoenix School of Law – one of the company’s four institutions – is suing the company after they were allegedly terminated for protesting these restrictions.
CSOL has already gone to great lengths to block student transfers – most notably by announcing its InfiLaw deal after a critical July 15 transfer deadline. The school is also requiring students who wish to transfer to sit with the dean of the institution and explain their reasons.
Additionally, sources tell FITS several CSOL students were threatened prior to the meeting with “negative professional repercussions” in the event they attended the meeting and spoke out against the InfiLaw deal.
We’ve had plenty of not-so-nice things to say about CSOL in the past. In fact, this website broke the infamous bar exam scam story six years ago – in which the S.C. Supreme Court tossed an entire section of the bar exam in an effort to artificially inflate passage rates at the school.
Having said that, the school has done much better on recent bar exams – and with a few notable exceptions appeared to be progressing toward some semblance of respectability.
Will that progress continue under InfiLaw? We doubt it …