Law dean v. Law faculty. In this analogy, the students are the dirt.

Thing is, I like law professors. I like professors. I think it’s an achievement of civilization (and, you know, agriculture) to have a class of people whose only job is to think and teach.

Law professors have a great life. They’re paid generously, they work occasionally, and they’re fired rarely. No, I don’t hate law faculty, I want to be on faculty. Even at a relatively poorly ranked school (not Cooley, a man’s gotta have a code). The life of a professor involves writing, interacting with young people, and occasionally crushing the dreams of people too stupid to parrot back to you exactly what you want to hear. What’s not to like?

Of course, if we want serious change in legal education, we’re going to have to take a flamethrower to the lives of law faculty. And they’re not going to give it up quietly. When an ambitious law dean takes on the law faculty for the benefit of students, that will be a great war.

But for now, we just have the less interesting skirmishes that happen when law deans take on faculty without benefiting students in any meaningful way…

Brooklyn Law Dean Nicholas Allard has had a pretty interesting tenure at the school since coming over from Patton Boggs. The school plummeted in the U.S. News rankings (and didn’t make the top-50 in the Above the Law rankings), prompting Allard to “receive” the resignation of the school’s Career Service director.

More recently, Brooklyn has been begging for press over its new two-year J.D. program. We haven’t covered it here because I didn’t feel like pretending that a polished turd doesn’t stink. The “two-year” program has just as many class hours and costs just as much money as the three year program. In fact, instead of saving students money, the program is designed to remove summer breaks. You remember the summer right? It’s that time during a decent economy when students can work full time to defray some of the costs of attending law school.

Whatever, maybe Brooklyn is tacitly admitting that students aren’t very likely to get lucrative summer associate positions while attending Brooklyn.

In any event, a change in Brooklyn’s faculty firing policies is what is making news this week. Last month, Brooklyn changed it’s tenure policy to be able to fire professors for “lack of collegiality” or “poor student evaluations.”

I’m not sure what lack of collegiality means and I don’t think professors should be fired just because of student evals, and I’m a guy who is in favor of tenure reform. You can imagine how actual tenured faculty reacted to it.

And so yesterday we got a lawsuit complaint. A complaint from a tenured Brooklyn Law faculty member to the ABA. The professor alleges waste and excess on the part of the Brooklyn Law administration. The worst allegations were reprinted in Tax Prof Blog:

The salaries for executive positions have increased every year without any justification based on performance. Examples of self-dealing have involved appointment of Board members to the salaried teaching staff, free use of luxury apartments to Board members, the payment of exorbitant salaries to administrative officers and selected faculty, salary determinations based on friendship and loyalty rather than merit, and lack of transparency about financial matters of the law school and its faculty. …

The supra competitive levels of executive compensation along with the salaries paid to the top five professors at the law school, as reported in recent IRS 990 filings, rival and exceed the compensation levels of tenured professors of law at Harvard or Yale. In times of acute crisis in legal education, compensation levels at Brooklyn Law School for a small handful of professors and administrators represent a level of mismanagement, waste, and self-dealing that violates Standards 201, 204, 206 and 404.

Discussion: The total value of the salary and benefits provided to the president of the law school—which include a tax-free furnished apartment complete with designer kitchen and skyline views of Manhattan, a car, and a driver—exceed a million dollars. This is the highest compensation paid to any law school dean or administrator in the United States. The salary and benefits lavished on the administrators of the law school impose a drain on the resources of the institution that detract from the educational mission of the law school, increase tuition costs of students, and add to the financial burden of law school graduates. The health and continued survival of the institution to which I have dedicated my career is threatened by waste, mismanagement and potential self-dealing creating serious violation of Standards 201, 204, 206 and 404.

The president of Brooklyn Law, Joan Wexler, gets skyline views of Manhattan? Figures. Who the hell would want to look at Brooklyn?

Brooklyn Law says it hasn’t yet seen the complaint.

If you are a student who is thinking about going to Brooklyn Law, I’d pay attention to all of these shenanigans. It seems like the school may be more interested in having cockfights between the administration and faculty, instead of getting jobs for graduates.

Tenured Brooklyn Law Prof Files ABA Complaint Against School [Tax Prof Blog]
Brooklyn Law School to Permit Dismissal of Tenured Faculty for Lack of Collegiality or Poor Student Evaluations [Tax Prof Blog]

Earlier: Responding to the New U.S. News Rankings: The Parade of Butthurt Deans Begins Now
Musical Chairs: From Patton Boggs Partner to Brooklyn Law School Dean


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30 thoughts on “The More Law Schools Change, The More Law Faculty Will Start Pitching A Fit

  1. KyletheGyle says:

    “And so yesterday we got a lawsuit. A lawsuit from a tenured Brooklyn Law faculty member.”
    I don’t think “lawsuit” means what you think it means. It says ABA complaint, which is more like a letter to the editor than a lawsuit.

  2. Partner Emeritus says:

    Mr. Mystal, I am still outraged over your racially charged post which accused the U.S. Supreme Court of being racist because Black attorneys don’t appear before it. You do acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court hears a couple of dozen cases every term involving the government, correct? Mr. Mystal, who is the Attorney General? It is Eric Holder. Mr. Holder is a Black attorney. In theory, Mr. Holder could appear in every case involving the government, however, Mr. Holder cannot be bothered with such menial tasks since he is too busy running other covert operations (e.g., “Fast & Furious,” “IRSGate,” “GoogleSpy,” etc.). You want to blame the system for a Black man not having enough face time before the U.S. Supreme Court? Blame Mr. Holder.
    I understand as a result of this post, I may be subject to an IRS audit thanks to the Kommissar’s policies in chilling my free speech.

    • KyletheGyle says:

      The IRS does not audit rich white guys because it is well known that they pay their fair share of taxes without even being asked. So you are safe as always, PE.

      • Brocaine_Brandy says:

        Surprisingly, basing ones legal and risk management strategy on this assumption is not always a safe call.

        -UBS General Counsel

      • Puest says:

        For the most part, they are the only ones that pay any taxes at all.

        • Partner Emeritus says:

          An astute observation. My accountant recently told me that I am subsidizing student loan defaults with my taxes. Essentially, I am paying for Mr. Mystal’s education, which was wasted since he never became a licensed attorney. Fortunately, Claudius, Mr. Mystal’s spawn, will live in a more realistic world where merit is measured by achievement and not the color of your skin. Good luck getting Claudius into Harvard based on legacy Mr. Mystal. Based on DNA pedigree, I see the Université de Port-au-Prince in Claudius’s future.

          • flashwins says:

            You are sick piece of dog ****. Do not talk about people’s kids and refer to them as spawn, you lowlife animal and poor excuse for a human being.

  3. IronicClownShoes says:

    The provided benefits don’t include a house in the Hamptons, or harassment of the cute beverage cart girl while golfing?

    Nothing to see here.

  4. Concerned_Pastafarian says:

    “The supra competitive levels of executive compensation…”

    A perfect microcosm of how law professors have forgotten everything about the real world.

  5. ThirdTierFederalClerk says:

    Elie is right that prospective students should pay attention to these sorts of fights, if only so students will know when they are being fed nonsense later on. Lots of schools, including my alma mater, cry poverty to the students about funding student organizations (including moot court programs and law journals) or holding tuition steady (cutting it would be impossible, of course) while somehow affording expensive faculty and staff perks.

    The funding allocations won’t change until some of these schools are on the brink of financial collapse, but it’s always nice to know when you are being lied to.

  6. Thurston Howell III says:

    A useful post Mr. Mystal, and keep the pressure on. Remember of course, that the larger versions of Brooklyn LS have their own guilty secrets: dilattante professors teaching useless classes on “diversity”, “sexual ethics,” and “racial oppression,” bloated budgets supporting professionally out of touch law reviews, and more.

  7. vinceclortho1 says:

    Bonobos!

    Where is the original B_B when you need him?

    • Brocaine_Brandy says:

      Real legends never die, they just get tired of posting under the same schtick on a blog sinking faster than the Lusitania when they could instead learn interesting new facts from Matt posts at Dealbreaker and/or try out this whole Tinder thing.

      • JoePesci says:

        Henry Blodget at Business Insider is prepared to make you an attractive offer to comment on BI full time.

  8. be a lot cooler if you did says:

    OK Elie, I will admit that this was a good, coherent article. You even avoided calling people names or using profanity. You get two gold stars.

  9. BlackstoneMN says:

    The prof is probably just upset that his/her career has effectively ended at BLS.

  10. tc says:

    This compensation issue illustrates the key dilemma in higher education generally and legal education especially: the money used to finance law school is borrowed, and the law schools assume no risk of default. If the law schools were the lenders, and suffered the consequences of default, then we may see a more rational approach to the supply / demand issues plaguing the legal industry now.

  11. tcx says:

    “The “two-year” program has just as many class hours and costs just as much money as the three year program. In fact, instead of saving students money, the program is designed to remove summer breaks.”

    But one year less of living expenses, which ATL always includes in its total cost calculations.

  12. Omar Little says:

    “a man’s gotta have a code”
    Oh, no doubt.

  13. Successful BLS Alumnus says:

    Elie, I don’t understand the elitest attitude against Brooklyn Law School (and other non-top 10 US News rated law schools for that matter). You’re to Brooklyn Law School what Fox News is to Barak Obama, and I don’t mean fair and balanced. Shameful…

    Dear (Prospective) Law Students Reading This – Before you listen to Elie’s advice about which law school not to go to or which law firm not to work at, keep in mind that Elie doesn’t practice law. He is the editor of a gossip blog – query whether such a person is the best advisor on such matters. Maybe yes, maybe no. You’re smart enough to figure it out.

  14. Elie, I love your hate so much . . . I figure you must have had a horrible childhood. BLS sucks.

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