This weekend, the Charleston School of Law has its third full graduating class moving on in to the “real world.” The school was founded in 2004 and ever since, Dean Andy Abrams says it’s been a success story.
“Our students now have graduated, passed the bar, out in the communities, working in various capacities, but really engaged in making their communities better, which is why they come to the Charleston School of Law to begin with,” says Abrams.
Abrams says Charleston is the only law school in the state with part-time students and they are not in direct competition with the only other law school in the state, The University of South Carolina.
“USC is a public law school that’s been there for some period of time. Our law school was founded here in Charleston, it’s a private law school. A key component of our school since the time of its founding has been public service, so a disproportionate number of our students are really focused on going into some forms of public service,” says Abrams.
In fact, Abrams says the students have a mandatory pro bono requirement before they graduate. Since the school began, students have completed over 84,000 hours in pro bono community service work and externships. Despite this pro bono work, when these students graduate, they have to enter the slumping job market. As for attorneys, Abrams says the economy hasn’t affected the law school in terms of applications, but he says, just like every profession, everyone needs to be mindful of the changes that have taken place. He says the economy tends to shift the kinds of areas of law that are flourishing.
“Being a real estate attorney right now may be more difficult. For our law students, what it means is that a greater number of the law students are looking at other areas that are doing well. Domestic relations, family law, for example, is doing quite well. We’re seeing that elder law is doing well, bankruptcy and that side of commercial transactions. So, I think our students are still getting jobs, it’s not a bull market, so it means that you’re working that much harder,” says Abrams.
Abrams says The Charleston School of Law currently has around 600 students, 135 of them will graduate on Saturday. Representative Jim Clyburn is the keynote speaker of the ceremony.