We resume our examination of professorial pay at the nation’s top public law schools (which generally have to make salary data public due to their status as state institutions). We’ve previously visited the East Coast, represented by UVA Law, and the West Coast, represented by Boalt Hall (Berkeley).
Now it’s time to head into the heartland. Let’s collect and analyze some compensation information for law professors at another elite institution, the University of Michigan Law School (#9 in the latest U.S. News rankings, and #12 in the recently released Above the Law rankings).
These salary numbers are strong. And remember that dollars go farther in Ann Arbor than they do on the coasts….
Before we delve into the data, here’s an important caveat. As we mentioned in an update to our Berkeley post, one has to make sure that school-to-school compensation comparisons are apples-to-apples. A knowledgeable law professor informed us:
The Berkeley data is comprehensive, it includes the full 12-month packages, including summer money, housing allowances, special stipends, everything. The UVA salary data does not include various supplements (especially those from private sources), which vary among faculty. So the comparison is a bit apples and oranges. Add in cost of living differentials, and the UVA salaries are off the charts by comparison!
And what about Michigan? Our tipster told us:
The Michigan data does not include summer money, which is typically 14-17% of the academic year rate (I forget precisely, but it’s that range).
So regarding the Michigan Law salary data below, pump up these numbers by 15 percent or so.
You can access the Michigan comp info through this website. It appears that 2012-2013 is the latest period for which there’s publicly available information. We took this list of professors of law at Michigan, looked up the names in the database, and prepared this handy spreadsheet showing 2012-2013 compensation. (We did this manually, so as always, please alert us to any errors.)
Regarding Michigan, here are some highlights:
- The sum of the listed salaries for 2012-2013 is $12,645,223.
- The average faculty salary is $243,177.36. This is nominally higher than the Berkeley figure of $235,482.05 and the UVA figure of $177,185, but don’t forget the multiple caveats about about apples-to-apples comparisons. (Recall, for example, that the UVA average reflects a broader definition of “faculty member.”)
- The lowest faculty salary was $50,000, for Professor Madeline Kochen (query whether she was not teaching at Michigan for part of the year).
- The next-lowest faculty salary was $163,000, for Professor Gabriel Mendlow (who, as you can see from his bio page, is serving as a federal prosecutor in Detroit for 2012-2013).
- Michigan Law’s outgoing dean, Evan Caminker, earns $470,233 a year, beating out Chris Edley of Boalt ($350,345) and Paul Mahoney of UVA ($450,000).
- The incoming dean, Mark West, will probably see a nice raise. In his current role as a professor and associate dean, he earns $243,500 a year.
Although the average law professor at Michigan appears to earn more than than the average law professor at Berkeley, there are fewer members of the $300K Club at Michigan. At Berkeley, 16 professors earn more than $300,000; at Michigan, the number is just four (although recall the caveat about summer money).
Here are the ten highest-paid professors at Michigan Law for 2012 to 2013:
1. Evan Caminker – $470,233
2. Don Herzog – $302,000
3. William Ian Miller – $302,000
4. James E. Krier – $300,000
5. Margaret Jane Radin – $298,500
6. Catharine A. MacKinnon – $294,000
7. James R. Hines Jr. – $288,500
8. Bruce W. Frier – $285,000
9. Richard D. Friedman – $283,500
10. Reuven S. Avi-Yonah – $280,500
As usual, the ten best-paid professors include some of the most productive scholars — like Reuven Avi-Yonah, author of more than 150 articles and books — and some of the biggest names — like Catharine MacKinnon, the rare law professor who has achieved fame beyond the ivory tower. And as usual, men outnumber women — at Michigan, eight to two. Professor MacKinnon is probably not pleased (despite making about $300K herself).
Still, it’s hard to complain about pay if you’re a law professor at a top school. Sure, your law school classmates who are Biglaw partners might make more — but they probably work a lot more too, at least in sheer hours. And as an academic, you enjoy more freedom: freedom to write, freedom to teach, freedom over the summer, freedom from demanding or unpleasant clients, and freedom from the billable hour. Such freedom is, to quote the old MasterCard ads, priceless.