ABA Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar acquiesces in Charleston Law’s application for nonprofit conversion

J. Edward Bell III, the President of Charleston School of Law, announces that the American Bar Association’s Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar has “acquiesced” in Charleston School of Law’s application to convert to nonprofit status. As the accreditor for the first degree in law, the ABA Council is required to “acquiesce” before an approved law school makes any “substantive change,” including a change of control or ownership.

The Law School will now file an application for a license with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, the state licensing authority. In addition, Charleston Law will begin the process of securing the U.S. Department of Education’s approval.

Conversion to nonprofit status will involve the current owners of the Law School donating the school to an existing nonprofit, the Charleston School of Law Foundation, Inc. The owners have pledged not to take any money from the transaction. Instead, they will be donating the Law School in its entirety to the Foundation.

Charleston Law officially filed an application last October with the ABA Council seeking acquiescence in the conversion from for-profit to not-for-profit status. Larry Cunningham, Provost and Dean, testified before the Council in February in connection with the application.

“Converting our school to a nonprofit has been a key goal of mine since I became President in 2015,” said President Bell. “I am thrilled that the ABA has acquiesced in the conversion and grateful to everyone at the Law School who worked hard on our application. Converting to nonprofit status is an instrumental step towards our goal of establishing a permanent home on the Charleston peninsula, which will be for the continued betterment of the community we serve.”

“This is a significant moment in the history of our young law school,” said Dean Cunningham. “Becoming a nonprofit is in the best interests of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the community. We are grateful to the ABA for giving careful consideration to our application. We look forward to showing other regulators, including the CHE and USDE, that conversion will only strengthen the Law School.”


The Charleston School of Law is an ABA-accredited law school nationally recognized for its student-centric culture. Our faculty and staff are committed to preparing students for success both in the classroom and in the legal profession. Charleston Law is one of only two law schools in South Carolina.


  • To teach students through a rigorous, skills-based study program;
  • To teach the practice of law as a profession, having as its chief aim providing public service;
  • To institute and coordinate legal outreach programs to the South Carolina and American Bars, local, state, and federal governments, as well as to the general population; and
  • To provide an inclusive, diverse environment in which to encourage and foster collegial, collaborative, and professional relationships among students, faculty, staff, and the community.