HBO should make a show about law school. It should be called "The Faculty," and in the final season the law school should get sued.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to be playing Tommy Carcetti of The Wire. University of Baltimore President Robert L. Bogomolny has to be Clarence Royce. Outgoing U. Baltimore Law dean Philip Closius gets to be a disgruntled Cedric Daniels. All the UB Law students are the hoppers in Hamsterdam.

On Friday, Dean Closius blew the lid off the way the University of Baltimore has been making money off the backs of the UB Law School, despite the down legal economy. Evidently, the UB administration took the weekend to examine its motives. Then, on Monday, UB President Bogomolny struck back hard. He sent an open letter to the U. Baltimore community (and the media), disputing Closius’s claims.

Oh, the University still takes money from the law school. A lot of it. President Bogomolny just claims that the University retains less than Closius says it does.

Yes, these kinds of “juking the stats” discussions are usually handled behind closed doors, but now we all get to see it…

The full Bogomolny letter is reprinted in the Baltimore Sun. It’s a dual-core argument. First, there’s the obligatory smearing of Phillip Closius — without making any specific allegations, of course:

The decision to seek new leadership for the UB School of Law involved considerable thought around multiple issues during an extended period of time. The ultimate decision was not about financial matters. Although management of University finances was one area of conflict between Mr. Closius and the University, it was not the only area of conflict. I am unable to discuss confidential personnel matters, and unfortunately I cannot provide full details concerning this matter. I can assure you that, based upon many conversations during the past few months, including conversations the provost and I had with approximately a dozen senior law faculty members, select alumni and UB Foundation officials, the overwhelming conclusion was that a change in leadership was in the best interests of the School of Law and the University of Baltimore.

Evidently, Closius was on double secret probation. I’m telling you, this is exactly how Royce handled Daniels on The Wire. Once Daniels didn’t play ball, there were all these vague threats and references to Daniels’s moral character.

So, we can believe Bogonmolny’s claim that it wasn’t just about the money if we want to. But let’s go on and listen to Bogonmolny’s long explanation about the money. The president questions Closius’s figures:

Mr. Closius’ central complaint is that the University withheld 45 percent of the School of Law’s revenue in the past academic year. In fact, in 2010, the year cited in the recent ABA site visit report, the University retained 13.7 percent of law revenue centrally, after allocating costs related to the law school’s regular operation.

Using the 2010 data referenced in the ABA report, 42 percent of law school revenue was retained centrally in 2010 prior to the allocation of general operating costs. The law school’s operating costs for 2010 – all expenses attributable to the School’s operation that are routinely absorbed centrally, including those related to basic functions such as human resources, technology, heat, light, security, etc. – amounted to approximately $9.97 million. After these costs are allocated for 2010, the School of Law had 13.7 percent of its revenues retained centrally. UB’s 13.7 percentage is well below the 20–25 percent national law school average cited in the School of Law’s 2010 self-study report, is considerably below the 25–30 percent referenced by Mr. Closius from a recent New York Times article, and represents the lowest percentage among UB’s schools and colleges.

Apparently, Closius wasn’t exactly surprised by this line of argument from the university. The outgoing dean responded by disputing the president’s numbers. Above the Law has obtained the email he sent to the UB faculty:

I have been asked by faculty members to clarify in a basic format the relevant financial information at issue with the University. Although I do not intend to keep bothering you with emails, I thought it made sense for the entire law school community to have the same numbers.

FY10 (7/1/09 – 6/30/10)

REVENUE: $ 23,396,681
TOTAL TUITION AND FEES (including summer): $7,472,747
LAW SCHOOL SHARE OF STATE SUBSIDY (University calculation accepted by law): $35,869,428

TOTAL REVENUE

DISTRIBUTIONS: $19,945,613
FY10 LAW SCHOOL BUDGET (including summer – this is 55.6% of total revenue): $10,000,000
TOTAL DIRECT/INDIRECT UNIVERSTIY COSTS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE LAW SCHOOL (from University – no backup data has been provided to verify – 27.87% of total revenue): $5,923,815
LAW FUNDS USED FOR NON-LAW PURPOSES ( 16.51% of total revenue)

The 25% – 30% referenced in my email includes Direct and Indirect University Costs and any Law Funds Used for Non-law purposes. I know of no school paying as high as 16.5% for non-law purposes, never mind 25% – 30% for such funds. We would be within this national framework if the University only charged us $ 10,000,000 and the law school budget was $5,923,815 higher.

A couple million here, a couple million there, pretty soon you are talking about real money.

The cockfight between the president and the dean over the specific figures isn’t really that interesting. Bogomolny’s letter notably fails to address the two main points from Closius’s initial letter: (a) law school tuition is high and on the rise, despite the faltering legal economy, and (b) one of the reasons the tuition is too damn high is because the university is taking a lot of money from the law school and using it for other purposes.

When reached for comment, University of Baltimore Law students said: This must be one of those contrapment things.

Read the letter from the UB president [Baltimore Sun]

Earlier: A Resigning Law Dean Spills The Beans On The Fleecing Of Law Students


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