What your law school dean does when alone at the office.

I, for one, do not think that a person’s salary can or should be used as a proxy for determining whether or not that person is committed to any particular cause. I don’t think people who fight for the poor need be poor themselves. I don’t think people who work for the state should be relegated to the kind of salaries that will convince the best and brightest to never work for the state. I just don’t think a person’s salary is all that indicative of a person’s commitment to doing the right thing.

That said, it doesn’t look good to be putting other people in financial distress while you enjoy a large paycheck, especially when you are in a position of public trust. When you are in a leadership position at a public university, you are expected to be looking out for your students, not just your own bank account.

The salaries of deans from public law schools don’t prove that these people are placing themselves above the needs of their students. They don’t really reflect anything — other than the going rate for a law school dean, in a competitive market for talent. But man, they don’t look good. In fairness, they look awful, given that we’re living in a world where many of these deans are raising tuition on students who for the most part won’t even be able to dream of making the kind of money these deans pull down.

So take a look, but try to remember that if you were in the deans’ shoes, you’d act no differently. You’d take every penny that was offered to you…

The list of salaries comes from TaxProf Blog (gavel bang: @VaultLaw). Here’s a list of some ATL fan favorites:

* Arizona State (2008): $282,000
* Florida (2009): $256,051
* Michigan (2010): $442,308
* North Carolina (2010): $320,200
* Ohio State (2010): $302,006
* Rutgers-Newark (2009): $287,278
* SUNY-Buffalo (2010): $270,000
* Tennessee (2008): $225,000
* Texas (2010): $374,167
* UC-Berkeley (2009): $336,511
* UC-Davis (2009): $307,200
* UCLA (2009): $352,333
* Virginia (2010): $450,000
* Wisconsin (2009): $304,436

You can see more at TaxProf Blog.

Like I said, this list doesn’t make law deans look good. It makes them look like a bunch of people who want tuition to stay high just so they can continue to rake in a ton of cash.

Maybe law schools facing budgetary shortfalls should divide the pain been faculty and students. For example, if a school raises tuition by 5 percent, perhaps it could also cut faculty salaries by 5 percent (instead of raising tuition by, say, 10 percent). Wouldn’t that be fair?

Wait a minute. Did I use the word “fair” in a discussion of something related to American legal education? Never mind.

Law Dean Salaries [TaxProf Blog]


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