The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

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The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby johnstfm » Sun Jan 15, 2006 1:04 pm

With one semester of law school behind me, I find myself reflecting back on what led me to where I am now. I especially remember regularly visiting and to gain insight on where to attend. I gained a lot of information from these resources, some taken with a grain of salt, but I appreciated these forums for their subjective observations which greatly added to the objective resources - the best books of which I feel are US NEWS' ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LAW SCHOOLS and HOW TO GET INTO THE TOP LAW SCHOOLS.

One school however that, because of its newness, still isn't listed in the print resources and continues to only have sporadic references online is the school which I ultimately chose to attend: THE CHARLESTON SCHOOL OF LAW (CSOL). The school is currently in its second full year and is not yet ABA accredited. Nonetheless, the school is certainly one which may be a good candidate for some perspective applicants. This posting is for those who are interested in the school but don't have a lot of information about it. I will try not to duplicate the information which one can find by visiting the school's website at I figured I'd write a quick blurb about the school in general, my personal experience both in the application process and as a student, and then answer any questions as they present.

The Charleston School of Law is a private school that is not associated in any way with the College of Charleston (other than that one the schools' founders, Judge Alex Sanders, is the former president of that institution). At the moment, Charleston Law School cannot consider itself a non-profit institution (for purposes of charitable donations etc...) but the school was founded on principles of public service and many of the activities associated with the school are non profit in nature and scope. Charleston Law School greatly encourages students to become involved in public interest law and I have found that many students are interested in government/non-profit work.

The size of the school is about 400 students at the moment. Of course, as the school is only two years old, there are no third year students as of yet. Eventually the school will expand to approximately 600 students. The Charleston School of Law offers a traditional 3 year full time day program and a 4 year part time evening program.

I applied in December 2004 and the application was free. I applied both to the full time program and the part time program. I was granted admission to either program and chose the part time in order to continue to work full time. I did not receive any scholarships and I pay approximately $9,000 per semester tuition with private loans (the full time program is approximately $12,500 per semester). My numbers fit within the general range for new admits. Competitive Charleston School of Law applicants have a LSAT range of 150 - 155 and a UGPA between 3.0 - 3.3. My undergraduate institution, my Masters degree, and my public service work experience were additional "soft" factors which complemented my application. I did apply to other schools and I was certainly rejected by many of them (including USC). In the end though I did have several choices and I chose Charleston Law School. My main reason was to stay in-state (family, job, etc...) and SC is where I ultimately plan to practice.

As previously mentioned, Charleston School of Law is not ABA approved as of yet. A new law school cannot be approved in its first year but may seek to complete the lengthy ABA approval process before its first set of students graduate. The ABA did visit the law school this past semester and Charleston School of Law is hoping to achieve provisional accreditation in time for next school year (and hopefully in time for the first year full time students to graduate with the benefit of ABA accreditation).

One major downside of not being "ABA approved" is that the Charleston Law School students cannot receive government backed loans. Thus, the only alternative is private loans. If the Charleston Law School becomes provisionally approved, students will qualify for government backed loans. There are not a lot of scholarship monies available within the school. Paying for the Charleston School of Law at present is, for most students, 100% private loans. The school has lenders which will grant most students the necessary loans for attendance.

Why attend a non-ABA school? Well, most obvious might be that the hope of future accreditation and the other that the pursuit of the J.D. outweighs the risk of non accreditation. Also, some who seek a law degree to take the bar exam as they don't intend to "practice" law. Nonetheless, attending a non-ABA school is a risk which must be carefully weighed. For me, I believe that the Charleston School of Law will become provisionally approved. The schools' founders have done an excellent job of equipping the school with the tools necessary to achieve accreditation. The faculty are well qualified individuals and the administration staff has experience in fostering fledgling schools into ABA compliance.

The physical school itself is certainly adequate and is well above par with other schools which are only 2 years old. The school's library is growing but I have to say that I do 95% of my research online through WESTLAW or LEXIS. The school is very technology centered; most students bring laptops to class. Books are ordered online, registration is online, the school disseminates most of its critical messages through an online message board and through email. The school just recently purchased an adjacent building which adds a lot of square footage to the school. Classroom space, which was limited, is now pretty good and the facilities are very clean and new. There isn't anything that I would say is sub-standard.

The classes themselves are challenging, as one should expect. The professors teach to engage the students; the Socratic method is loosely followed. I have enjoyed the classes and found them challenging but not ridiciously difficult or theoretical. Charleston Law School professors are down to earth and teach practical modern legal practice.

The students range considerably in backgrounds. Most are SC residents which should be expected. Most are white and around 25 years old. The school has a small minority population. I know that one of the focus factors for the school is attracting a more diverse student body and seeking to establish minority scholarships. Currently a limited number of merit scholarships are available for new applicants with higher LSAT/GPA scores.

As far as job prospects, I believe that Charleston School of Law graduates will certainly be able to find employment, especially within the State of SC. The notoriety of the school within the legal circles of the State is fast growing. There is not however an established alumni network to pull from and so potentially there are some resources that a USC graduate might have that a Charleston School of Law graduate does not. Nonetheless, externship opportunities are available throughout the state and the school does have a lot of local firms which recruit on campus. Of course, as previously mentioned, I expect many students to enter into government/non-profit law given the focus of the school. There are always openings in these positions. Charleston School of Law students may have to more aggressively market themselves, especially to out of state potential employers but I don't believe that they will be significantly disadvantaged for most attorney positions.

The Charleston, SC area is widely regarding as an awesome place to attend school. The city has many attractions. I came to the school from the Upstate of SC and while I don't want to live in Charleston permanently, the Charleston area offers a lot and is a fun place to be for 3 or 4 years.

Well, I won't drone on too much more. I enjoyed my first semester at Charleston Law School and I have no regrets. In fact, despite my being shunned at other more established schools who didnt like my computed "predictive LSAT/GPA numbers", I did quite well in my first semester at the Charleston School of Law scoring an approximate 3.7 GPA. Are my grades and my education comparable to U.S.C. and other area schools? Is there grade inflation or normalization? I dunno.... I guess we'll know a little more about that when the first group of Charleston School of Law students take the bar exam for the first time. But my short answer to that is definitely.

I certainly want to graduate from an ABA approved school but since I won't graduate until 2009, time is on my side. Most people seem to think that the Charleston School of Law is on a fast track to ABA approval and has established an excellent foundation for future success. I certainly haven't seen anything that would contradict either of those assertions.

Any questions?

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Postby petunia » Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:47 pm

This was a very helpful post as I've been looking into CSOL but haven't trouble finding first-hand accounts of students' experience since it's such a new school.

I am pretty sold on the school EXCEPT that I'm most interested in Intellectual Property Law - do you think it has a decent program for that or should I look for a bigger more specialized school?

Not sure if you would know this but thought I'd ask. On this note - do you feel the curriculum is expansive enough?

Thanks much - any info on this is appreciated! If you don't know perhaps there's a resource you could point me to? I've been scouring the Internet all day.


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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby Percy » Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:42 pm

Really good informations!

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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby mcmaclellan » Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:59 pm

any updates? How are job prospects? Summer Internships?



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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby johnstfm » Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:38 am

Well, it's been almost 4 years since I wrote that original posting about my first semester at CSOL. I guess it is certainly time for an update! I am proud to report that I did graduate from Charleston Law in May 2009 as a member of the school's third graduating class. I stayed in the part-time (evening division) throughout law school and took 3-4 classes each semester. Although I did not graduate with honors (2.94), I was able to maintain a B average while working a full-time job as a police officer. I did complete an externship in my final year at CSOL in the county prosecutor's office. I am currently working for the federal government.

I am not looking forward to beginning repayment on the nearly $150,000 in law debt, but I am comforted by the fact that there is a federal student loan partial forgiveness program for working in public service careers.

No regrets.

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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby ru2009 » Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:00 pm

is this school aba approved yet?

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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby Danteshek » Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:10 pm

ru2009 wrote:is this school aba approved yet?

Yes, provisionally since 2006.

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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby Cupidity » Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:17 pm

Wow, 4 year thread.

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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby dipedric » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:21 pm

Good schools provide candidates who will participate in community and extracurricular activities which normally separates the acceptance of a discharge. So head out there and look for a coherent strategy for community work.

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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby Curious1 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:23 pm


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Re: The Charleston School of Law - CSOL

Postby rinkrat19 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:24 pm

The dude's only two posts are to necromance two threads about crappy law schools. wtf

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