College of Charleston Law School to Open in AugustCOLUMBIA, S.C.
The Charleston School of Law can begin offering classes in August now that the state Commission on Higher Education has issued the school a license.
The 13-member commission unanimously approved the fall opening of the private law school.
Dean Richard Gershon said the school has attracted a strong first class with three-quarters of the students from South Carolina. That’s unusual for a new school, which often attracts many out-of-state students and those “desperate to go anywhere,” Gershon said.
Charleston’s first class has about 125 students who have an average entrance test score slightly above the national average, said Alex Sanders, one of the school’s founders.
The law school is “particularly pleased” that 10 percent of the students it plans to enroll this fall are Black, Sanders said. That compares with 7.7 percent Black enrollment at the University of South Carolina, which has the only other law school in the state.
“We want to be one of the finest private law schools in America,” said Sanders, a former College of Charleston president and retired state judge.
Sanders said the goal is to teach the practice of law as a way to serve the public.
“That’s the whole point of it — not just to have another law school,” he said.
The law school will lack accreditation when classes begin Aug. 18 at a downtown building formerly owned by the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. But school officials hope the school will achieve some form of accreditation from the American Bar Association by the time the first class of students graduates in three years.
Despite the lack of accreditation, the Charleston School of Law received 960 applications, Sanders said.
Most of the interest is generated by the credibility of the schools’ founders, Gershon said.
Sanders is a former state judge who lost his bid for U.S. Senate to current Sen. Lindsey Graham. Other founders include U.S. Magistrate Robert Carr and Ralph McCullough, a former associate dean at the University of South Carolina.
The school also has an experienced faculty, Sanders said. The school will have seven full-time faculty members in the fall along with adjunct professors who will teach at the school, Gershon said.
And there is at least one other reason so many students applied, Sanders said: “It’s in Charleston.”
The University of South Carolina Law School, a 100-year-old, ABA-accredited institution, expects the new school to have little impact on its operations, said Dean Burnele Powell.
The USC Law School accepted 240 of the more than 1,600 students who applied for admission this fall.
“I’m sure that there will be individuals who want to attend the University of South Carolina,” said Powell, who wished the Charleston law school well in building its program. “We would not be unhappy if a 100 years from now, they have a record that matches where we are now.”
— Associated Press
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