Monday, March 23, 2015

Lucre, Malice and The Charleston School of Law


Charleston Law board members, and former federal magistrates Robert Carr and George Kosko, have made public statements that they would rather have the law school close, than approve board member Ed Westbrook's plan. Westbrook has formed a nonprofit corporation to run the school, which he says would provide a viable alternative to selling it to the for-profit InfiLaw System. A majority of the original five member board had always planned to transition the school to a nonprofit model, once it was firmly established. Unfortunately, two board members retired, and Carr and Kosko saw the school as a road to personal wealth.

It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Carr and Kosko are putting their interests ahead of the students, faculty, staff, alumni and Charleston legal community. Despite the prohibitions found in Canon 4A of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Magistrates Carr and Kosko were governing board members of CSOL, and they spent several hours of the day at the school. Neither Carr, nor Kosko contributed money to the founding of the school. Instead, they each signed a $400,000 note to repay Ed Westbrook from the revenue of the law school. Westbrook is the only board member who actually funded the school in its start-up years. 

The plans put forth by the five law school founders showed that repayment was expected to take place over a five year period. The initial entering class was projected to be 125 full-time students. Instead, the school was able to enroll 135 full-time students and 65 evening students. The board had not planned to include an evening program, but the associate dean of admission convinced them that there was pent-up demand for a limited evening program. The faculty were enthusiastic about teaching in the evening program. The median LSAT for this inaugural class (including the evening students) was a respectable 151.  The result would be that the school earned enough money in two years, rather than the projected five, to cover the notes of Carr and Kosko. From that point on, they had no risk.

Irrespective of the fact that they had acquired their interests in the law school by leveraging student tuition dollars, and the dedicated work of faculty and staff, Carr and Kosko regularly referred to the law school as belonging to them. George Kosko,who was not renewed as a magistrate after his first eight-year term, frequently bullied faculty and staff members. He has now turned towards Ed Westbrook, and the remaining faculty, because they have fought the sale to Infilaw. It is unconscionable that CSOL is offering buy-outs, when Carr and Kosko have each withdrawn in excess of $5 million from the school over the last 3 years.

Oaths of admission to many state bars state that the lawyer will not "delay anyone's cause for lucre or malice." The mess at the Charleston School of Law can almost completely be attributed to two board members, who are the embodiment of lucre and malice.

 More to come on this story.

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