The Charlotte School of Law has received a lot of attention lately, and none of it has been good. At least according to the American Bar Association and the Department of Education, there have been serious missteps made in the administration of the law school and its delivery of legal education to its students. On Nov. 14, the ABA placed CSL on probation and on Dec. 19, the DOE announced that CSL students would no longer be able to access federal financial aid for their legal studies. As some 90 percent of CSL’s students rely on federal loans to fund their legal education, this decision, whether reactionary or reasoned, has disrupted the lives of hundreds of students and their families and raises serious questions about the future of Charlotte’s law school.
But these decisions and questions about these decisions should not distract from the hard work that our law school’s graduates do every single day on behalf of their neighbors to make their communities better places to live. CSL’s alumni are proud that our student body is one of the most diverse of any law school. Like our students, the reasons we chose the Charlotte School of Law are different: some of us liked the fact that this was home; others, the idea of going to class in the middle of a thriving city; and still others because we liked the idea of a curriculum that focuses so heavily on experiential education and learning by doing. But all of us – all of us – chose the Charlotte School of Law because of its unwavering commitment to serving the underserved and using the law to give a voice to the unheard and make our nation stronger.
Since 2009, our law school has produced leaders whose dedication to their profession and commitment to their neighbors build our school’s reputation for scholarship and an unparalleled promise to serve the underserved. They are leaders in large national law firms like Adam Bridgers (’09) and Elizabeth Dangel (’12); leaders in regional law firms like Steven Bimbo (’09) and Marcus Dean (’13); and leaders in boutique, local law firms like Bo Caudill (’12), Amanda Cubit (’12) and Mallory Willink (’12).
Many of our alumni have started successful law practices of their own, like Stephen Corby (’11), Aaron Lee (’12), Jeffrey McCraw (’11) and Mark Kerkhoff (’09), and have gone on to employ other Charlotte School of Law graduates. Other graduates serve as general counsel to businesses like Meredith Ginter (’12) Brandon Brown (’13), and Alison Purmort (’12). Graduates like Gretchen Caldwell (’09), Isaac Sturgill (’12) and Cassidy Estes-Rogers (’12) work hard for organizations like Legal Aid and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, where they make a real difference in the lives of people who need them most.
Some graduates prosecute those charged with crimes like Jessica Battle (’12), while graduates like Steven Lisk (’12), Matthew Hawkins (’13) and Zachary Thayer (’14), defend them. Others, like Julie Spahn (’11) and Jorge Pardo (’12) provide assistance to those who dream of living and working in this country. Our graduates are leaders in politics and government, like Maile Wilson (’13) and Chas Post (’09), and many of our graduates, like Amanda Anders (’09), Barrett Morris (’12), Logan Wyant (’13) and Marcos Roberson (’13) use their law degrees as they lead corporations and businesses.
These are just a few; our law school is proud to have produced hundreds of successful graduates who can be found across the United States. The success our graduates have achieved, and the success we know they will achieve in the future, has not changed as a result of any decision of the ABA or the DOE.
While the future of our law school may be in question, the dedication our graduates have to their families, their neighbors and their professions is not, and never will be.
R. Lee Robertson, Jr. is president of the Charlotte School of Law Alumni Association.