David Wippman

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….

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Do you know an easy way for moderately priced public law schools to make even more money? Charge more for tuition. Do you know an easy justification for jacking up tuition rates? Say that you are moving to a “private funding model” while you bemoan the lack of public support for your institution.

After that, it’s all profit baby!

The big news in the law school hot stove league is that another major public law school is toying with moving to a private funding model. The logic for eschewing public funds for an increase in private dollars is, as always, disingenuous. But hey, as long as the law school keeps paying its tithe to the university, few will object to increased gouging of prospective law students…

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CORRECTION: This post has been revised since it was first published to reflect the fact that the 13.5% tuition hike for in-state students occurred this summer and applies to the current academic year (2010-2011).

Last year, the University of Minnesota contemplated imposing a significant tuition hike on its law students, while trying to keep college tuition low. This year, Minnesota did in fact push through the tuition increase, while protecting the high salaries of its law school faculty.

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog pointed us to a number of reports about how Minnesota hiked law school tuition by 13.5% for this academic year, while planning to cut faculty salaries by only 1.15% in the 2011 fiscal year. So Minnesota law students, if you were hoping for a dollop of Astroglide along with your next tuition bill, you have my sympathy. The administration at Minnesota Law doesn’t even have the common courtesy to give you a reach-around.

Law school administrators don’t care about you, current and prospective law students. They don’t even have to pretend to care about your problems anymore…

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