Minnesota, or Vaes Dothrak?

When I think of Minnesota, I think of Lake Wobegon — “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Michele Bachmann is strong. Jesse Ventura is good-looking (if you’re into that whole “manly” thing). And the law students at the University of Minnesota Law School are above average. Their academic qualifications help Minnesota Law claim the #19 spot in the U.S. News law school rankings. (In the Above the Law law school rankings — which focus on outputs, like job placement, rather than inputs — Minnesota also fares well, ranking #25.)

The professors at Minnesota Law are above average too. The Minnesota faculty ranks #19 in terms of scholarly impact.

How do they fare in the professorial pay sweepstakes? Let’s look at the data….

You can access salary information for Minnesota state employees, including but not limited to Minnesota Law faculty members, through the Pioneer Press / TwinCities.com. The salaries listed are for 2012, which appears to be the most recent year available. We took this list of Minnesota Law faculty, looked up the names in the Pioneer Press database, and prepared a handy spreadsheet showing faculty compensation. (You can see the full spreadsheet on the next page; we entered the data manually, so as always, please alert us to any errors.)

Regarding Minnesota Law, here are some highlights:

  • The sum of the listed salaries is $12,960,890.
  • The average salary on the list is $185,155. This is somewhat lower than prior figures we’ve seen, but note that the faculty list we’ve used for Minnesota includes some non-tenured or non-tenure-track teachers who drag down the average. (And also note all our earlier caveats about making apples-to-apples faculty salary comparisons.)
  • The lowest faculty salary is that of JaneAnne Murray, a “practitioner in residence” who earned $30,000 from the school in 2012. But presumably she earns additional money from her outside practice of law.
  • The same can probably be said of Bruce Shnider and Ralph Hall, both “professors of practice,” who had the second- and third-lowest salaries — $45,333 and $61,263, respectively.
  • As usual, the highest salary goes to the man (or woman) at the top. Dean David Wippman earned $396,247 in 2012, which is fairly standard for deans at leading law schools. As we’ve already seen, deans of top 20 schools earn between $350,000 and $470,000.

And speaking of big earners, here are the ten highest-paid faculty members at Minnesota Law:

1. David Wippman (dean) – $396,247
2. Michael Tonry – $379,440
3. Susan Wolf – $379,239
4. Ruth Okediji – $310,700
5. Joan Howland – $306,180
6. John Borrows – $295,000
7. John Matheson – $284,040
8. Claire Hill – $250,293
9. Fred Morrison – $249,500
10. David Weissbrodt – $248,541

Minnesota women are strong, at least in terms of compensation. Minnesota Law ties with UCLA for having the strongest representation of women in the top ten (40 percent).

On the whole, though, Minnesota Law’s top earners aren’t as well-paid as those of other schools. Here are the top-ten cutoffs for the schools we’ve previously examined: UCLA ($320,520), Texas ($251,138), Michigan ($280,500), and Berkeley ($314,092).

But in defense of Minnesota, the cost of living in Minneapolis or St. Paul is a heck of a lot lower than it is in Los Angeles or San Francisco. And if you live in the Twin Cities, you can visit the Mall of America whenever you want. Who can put a price on that?

(Flip to the next page to see the full Minnesota Law School faculty salary spreadsheet.)


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