Vote delayed on InfiLaw’s license to run Charleston law school

ashain@thestate.comMay 1, 2014 

gavel
  • College projects OK’d

    The S.C. Commission on Higher Education approved $734 million in S.C. public college projects on Thursday, including $127.8 million at the University of South Carolina and nearly $400 million at Clemson University. Regulators said half of the cost of all the projects would be paid for by bonds backed by housing and athletics revenue. Another 28 percent will come from bonds backed by tuition revenue and 17 percent from government sources.

    • The USC projects approved include renovation of five dorms and construction of a new student health center, a new indoor tennis facility and renovating the current law school to become the university’s hotel, restaurant and tourism program. Work is expected to start within the next three years.

    •  The Clemson plans approved include a $212 million housing project, a new business school building and the renovation of Littlejohn Coliseum.

    Andrew Shain

A state regulatory panel delayed voting Thursday on InfiLaw’s request to buy the Charleston School of Law to allow it more time to review documents and public comments.

The Naples, Fla.-based law school operator has an agreement to buy the 9-year-old privately run school from its founders. But InfiLaw needs to get a state license first.

Members of an S.C. Commission on Higher Education licensing panel said they had received more than 100 pages of documents related to the purchase over the past three days and needed more time to review them. Several members came with lists of questions for InfiLaw officials, who said they look forward to more deliberations.

The panel will hold a special meeting May 19 and present its recommendation to the full commission at its June 5 meeting.

Charleston School of Law alumni and parents of students came to the meeting in Columbia.

Some of them, along with Charleston officials, have decried the for-profit InfiLaw as a diploma mill.

A higher education commission staff report, released to the public Wednesday, said a review found that InfiLaw met the academic, facilities, financial and reputation standards set forth in state regulations.

Staff recommended granting InfiLaw a license for three years to operate the school with the following conditions:

•  Winning approval from the American Bar Association for the ownership transfer and keeping its accreditation of the school.

•  Submitting a three-year business plan to the commission annually.

•  Banning state funding requests from the school or its merger with a public college, conditions that also were part of the school’s original charter.

InfiLaw already works as a management consultant for the Charleston School of Law, which opened in 2004 and received American Bar Association accreditation in 2011.

The school has more than 500 full- and part-time students.

The state has one other law school at the University of South Carolina, which has more than 600 students.

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