We all know that the employment landscape for recent law school graduates is still looking pretty bleak. Fifty-seven percent of 2013’s law school graduates are employed in full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage. If we exclude the percentage of full-time, long-term jobs funded by law schools, the legal employment rate drops to 55.3 percent. Meanwhile, 11.2 percent of 2013’s graduates are still unemployed nine months after receiving their degrees. The job market sucks, for lack of a better word, and law schools are sinking in the U.S. News rankings because of their terrible employment statistics.
That’s why law schools are doing anything and everything they can to try to put their graduates to work. It seems that some schools are even willing to go to extremely unconventional lengths to do so. For example, one law school is thinking about suspending faculty raises and using that money to create a new jobs program for its graduates.
A law professor there just found out that he may not be getting a raise this year, and he is PISSED….
The law school in question is the University of Oregon, which already employs about six percent of its graduates in short-term, part-time, school-funded jobs, only four of which require bar passage. The school is apparently interested in transitioning the number of attorney jobs it funds to full-time positions, and boosting the overall number of recent graduates employed in those jobs. Why?
Because just 50.3 percent of Oregon Law graduates are employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs, and the school has fallen 20 spots in the U.S. News rankings since 2011. Its failures in finding jobs for graduates is seemingly a big part of the problem. Here’s Dean Michael Moffitt’s plan, according to the UO Matters blog:
Cancel raises for the faculty, and use the money to create a program to give non-profits money to hire law school graduates, boosting the employment numbers that go into the US News rank.
We’ve reached out to Oregon Law for confirmation of this plan, but have yet to hear back.
This plan invoked rage in Professor Robert C. Illig — a former associate at Nixon Peabody, where according to him he “was all but certain to be earning more than $1 million annually,” had he not decamped for academia. He was inspired to send two emails to the law school’s faculty because, to his “shock and amazement,” someone was “trying to take away [his] one-in-a-decade chance at a raise WITHOUT [HIS] KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT.” Illig missed the faculty meeting where this plan was discussed, and his emails, which were recently made public, are simply wondrous. An excerpt:
What did the agenda say? “Discussion of Graduate Fellowships.” Pardon my French, but this is absolute bullshit. Colleagues do not ambush one another like this.
How can I trust the administration or any of my faculty colleagues? No wonder we’ve become a third-tier law school. Who’s going to want to come here to study or teach in this kind of poisonous atmosphere? …
I feel that having given up the chance at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students….
While we agree that it may be unfair for the school to cancel professors’ raises, this is the kind of educational crisis that requires everyone involved to give a little bit more, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of a faculty buyout offer or, worse yet, a layoff. It’s not like this hasn’t happened at many law schools already. Unfortunately, like the honey badger, Professor Illig doesn’t seem to give a s**t:
Is this some kind of faculty version of white-man’s guilt? We see students without jobs and think that if we throw them a few of our dollars we can go back to our scholarship and not worry about whether they are getting real careers and real training? We can study the 17th Century and believe we are preparing them for the 21st?
What we owe them is our time and effort and skill, not our paltry raises (which, by the way, don’t even cover the increase in the cost of living).
As many recent law school graduates can attest, their professors’ time, effort, and skill — much less their own — are not generating jobs, and they certainly aren’t paying their outstanding law school debts. We understand where Professor Illig is coming from, but he sounds like an entitled baby. Although he doesn’t exactly seem like a winner, perhaps he would’ve fared better if he had stuck it out at Nixon Peabody.
UPDATE (4/16/2014, 12:30 p.m.): Good news for Professor Illig. The proposal to cancel faculty raises isn’t going anywhere.
(Flip through the following pages to read — and marvel at — both of Professor Illig’s emails.)