Forum gives two sides chance to weigh in on InfiLaw sale

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Charleston School of Law is one of two law schools in South Carolina and it could soon be undergoing a big change. InfiLaw systems has been trying to buy the school for almost a year.

At times, the discussion was passionate and heated.

"I've never been more passionate about something," said a tearful law student.

Emotions could be seen and heard at a public hearing inside the nursing auditorium at Trident Technical College. Purple ribbons showed a unifying force against the granting of a license to InfiLaw for the operation of the Charleston School of Law.

"Infilaw attempts to diversify the profession," said state Rep. John King of Rock Hill, a law student at InfiLaw's school in Charlotte, N.C.

"The Charleston School of Law disappears when InfiLaw arrives," said one of the law school's graduate.

Even the law school's faculty voiced differing views on selling it.

"Is everyone understanding or is everyone really understanding that what we started in Charleston was a different type of law school?" asked a professor.

The Commission on Higher Education listened to professors, students, and graduates about the pros and cons of selling the 10-year-old law school to an outside company.

"I don't look at what they say they do. I look at what they have done," explained one faculty member.

Faculty and students from InfiLaw's Charlotte and Florida locations offered their perspective.

"I should remind you that InfiLaw, like any other applicant, is entitled to a license," said a lawyer who graduated from an InfiLaw school.

Locals like Allyson Haynes Stuart, of Walterboro, want her alma mater to stay private.

"A law school in Charleston started by local people with a love for the community, public service, and academic excellence. And I'm here in an effort to keep that dream alive," explained Haynes Stuart, a CSOL graduate.

Members on the Commission On Higher Education admit their final decision will be difficult.

"In my experience, in a decade, we've never had public hearings. On the other hand, we've never had this level of interest and attention to a question," said Betty Rose Horne, vice chair of the Commission On High Education.

The next public hearing will take place on Monday at Midlands Tech in Columbia. Commission members plan to make a final decision on June 6.