Infilaw, the company planning to buy the Charleston School of Law, temporarily withdrew its application for a license the day before a state commission was scheduled to vote on it.
The June 4 move came at the request of state Sen. John Courson, chair of the Senate Education Committee, Infilaw said in a statement. Courson had also asked the Commission on Higher Education, which licenses South Carolina colleges and universities, to postpone its vote and consider the application further.
Last month, a subcommittee of the commission, the Committee on Academic Affairs and Licensing, recommended denying the license, overruling a staff recommendation in favor of granting it. The state Attorney General’s office said in a nonbinding opinion that the Commission lacked grounds for denying a license because the agency is limited to considering criteria specified in state law and may not base its decision on other factors such as “the best interests of the state.”
Infilaw said it didn’t suspend its application because of concern that the Commission would vote against the request.
“Given the continuing flow of information between Infilaw, the CHE and the Attorney General’s Office, we want to make sure all questions are answered before a meeting is held at which a final decision will be considered,” the Naples, Fla.-based company said. The business is owned by Chicago-based private-equity firm Sterling Partners.
Infilaw’s purchase of Charleston Law, for an undisclosed amount, was announced in August 2013 and is contingent on obtaining an operating license from the Commission on Higher Education. The deal met with vocal opposition from alumni, students and faculty of the school, which was founded in 2003 by five Charleston lawyers and judges.
Although a for-profit institution from the start, the school was to be community-based and emphasize public service, according to statements at a public hearing on the sale. Charleston Law posted bar-passage rates higher than 70 percent for each of the three years through 2012, falling short of the average state bar-passage rate, according to data collected by Lawdragon.
Infilaw already operates the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, the Charlotte School of Law in North Carolina and the Phoenix-based Arizona Summit Law School and considers itself the best option for Charleston Law.
“We remain committed to this acquisition and intend to renew our application in due course,” Infilaw said.
Contact James Langford at (646) 722-2624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.