Evan Caminker

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….

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Dean Evan Caminker

* Eric Holder has agreed to serve once more as attorney general during President Barack Obama’s second term, but he still plans to leave at some point — after all, he’s no “Janet Reno of the Justice Department.” [Blog of Legal Times]

* AIG will not join the lawsuit against America. To put that in terms that should be just as outrageous, former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg is still suing America. [Washington Post]

* For those who care about Biglaw firms and the landlords who love them, fear not, because there’s a whole lot of moving and shaking in terms of commercial real estate deals for Arnold & Porter, Goodwin Procter, and Sidley Austin. [Am Law Daily]

* Jacoby & Meyers scored at the Second Circuit: its attack on New York’s ban on non-lawyer firm ownership was reinstated. Soon Walmart will own a firm with “Low Prices. Every day. On everything.” [Bloomberg]

* Who’ll step in to fill Evan Caminker’s $400,000+ shoes as the next dean of Michigan Law? None other than Mark West, who’d like to improve financial aid and loan repayment programs. [National Law Journal]

* Gun nuts, commence your rioting… now. If passed, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sweeping gun-control proposal would make New York the state with the strictest gun laws in the country. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Speaking of needless gun violence, by Friday, we’ll know whether there’s enough evidence to move forward with a trial for James Holmes, the accused shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre. [New York Times]

So far this year, we haven’t had any huge commencement kerfuffles over graduation speakers at law schools. Last year, you’ll remember that Michigan Law was in a tizzy over Dean Evan Caminker’s pick of Ohio Senator Rob Portman as a commencement speaker. Portman is one of those anti-marriage equality types, and Michigan Law students actually organized a walkout to protest his divisive views.

This year, Michigan has gone with a much more conservative choice.

Paul Caron at Tax Prof Blog has published his annual list of law school commencement speakers. Michigan Law’s choice is boring, but let’s see if we can’t find somebody else on this list to get excited about…

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Michigan Law School, a state school, charges $46,586 per year in tuition. It then conservatively expects students to incur another $18K-plus in living expenses to bring the price tag for one year’s worth of a Michigan legal education to $64,716 for in-state residents. That prices out to $194,148 for the full three years, and that’s assuming that Michigan doesn’t raise tuition while you are there.

And Michigan is one of the few places that can, more or less, claim that it’s worth it. To be sure, it’s not worth it for all the students. Remember, Louisville Law Dean Jim Chen just told us that people need to make three to six times their law school’s yearly tuition in annual salary if they go to school on loans and want to one day be financially sound homeowners. Some Michigan grads are banking upwards of $279,516, but certainly not all.

Still, one would expect a significant amount of that high tuition goes toward making Michigan Law what it is, and keeping the professional opportunities rolling for Michigan graduates.

Apparently, keeping Michigan Law what it is involves paying Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker quite a tidy sum….

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Way back in 2008, I noted with skepticism the University of Michigan’s “Wolverine Scholars” Program. I wasn’t the only one. The initiative allowed Michigan undergraduates with very high GPAs to get into Michigan Law without having to take the LSAT.

The program seemed like a pretty obvious attempt to game the U.S. News rankings. It’s so obvious that the now disgraced former Dean of Admissions for Illinois Law, Paul Pless, who had a similar program at his school, had this to say about it:

I started a new program for U of I undergrads to apply in their junior year and we don’t require the LSAT. We have additional essays and an interview instead. That way, I can trap about 20 of the little bastards with high GPA’s that count and no LSAT score to count against my median. It is quite ingenious.

Pless was talking about Illinois’s iLeap program, which was substantially similar to the Wolverine Scholars program at Michigan.

The Pless quote came out earlier this month, as the admissions director was being ushered under the bus by Illinois Law as the “lone gunman” for its embarrassing admissions scandal.

With the spotlight on a Big Ten school that manipulated admissions statistics for years, Michigan very quietly canceled its Wolverine Scholar Program.

There’s been much less fanfare about the end of the program than there was about its start. In fact, we obtained FOIA documents that contain various emails from Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker and Dean of Admissions Sarah Zearfoss.

They talk about the program, and the how “the blogs” are covering it….

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What an awesome venue. They should try playing football there or something.

Well, Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker got what he wanted: Ohio Senator Rob Portman addressed gradating 3Ls, at senior day. But conscientious members of the Michigan Law community didn’t have to stomach it if they didn’t want to. There was a walk-out during Portman’s speech, and some reports claim that over 100 students (out of 400) joined in.

Michigan students who support civil rights and marriage equality should feel proud. They’ve brought national attention to this issue. And they did so without “ruining” graduation for anybody else. There’s video of the walk-out up on Perez Hilton, and it doesn’t appear that the protesting Michigan students were unduly disruptive to those who wanted to hear Portman speak.

While it is sad to see the class split like this, perhaps the Michigan administration will invite a less divisive speaker next year. Given the position Michigan Law put its LGBT community in, I’m not sure how this could have turned out much better…

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Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker has issued what appears to be his final decision about the Rob Portman fiasco. The Dean has listened to all the relevant constituencies and decided that pulling Rob Portman might cause more long term harm. And so Portman is going to be allowed to speak. Dean Caminker announced this in a letter to concerned Michigan Law alumni.

Maybe Dean Caminker is right. I mean, look at what’s happening with King & Spalding. And, to my mind, a big Senior Day protest involving LGBT and straight students at Michigan Law will really show the community just how many people support the cause of equal human rights. So some good may still come out of all of this.

But perhaps the most important thing that has happened here is that Michigan Law and Dean Caminker have learned a lesson about just how far outside the mainstream the anti-marriage-equality people have strayed. This issue seems to have moved beyond our normal partisan debates about debt ceilings and which sovereign nation we should be meddling in this week. This issue is starting to transcend, and I bet Michigan will remember that next year….

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We told you yesterday that Michigan Law has decided to invite Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to speak to its 3L class for senior day. We told you that many Michigan Law students have objected to the choice of Senator Portman, because of his strong anti-gay rhetoric on the issue of gay marriage.

We told you that Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker — the hottest law school dean in America, by the way — didn’t respond to our request for comment. We wondered, though, if he would dig in his heels against the LGBT community at his school, or if he would try to be sensitive to the concerns of minorities at his school who would like to enjoy basic civil rights.

Well, Dean Caminker decided to dig in, and in so doing kind of totally missed the point…

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What’s more strange about that headline? That Michigan Law would invite a guy who stands against the civil rights of certain members of the Michigan Law community, or that Michigan Law would invite a representative from Ohio to speak to its outgoing students?

I’m going with the latter. Rob Portman graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1984, but he has gone on to become the junior senator from Ohio. Ohio! In related news, Bo Schembechler was born in Ohio and went to college at Miami of Ohio, but I don’t think he was ever the keynote speaker during an Ohio athletics Hall of Fame ceremony.

Sadly, the fact that Michigan invited a guy who has taken a strong stance against the civil rights of gay people probably isn’t that out of the ordinary. Sure, at some point these anti-gay-marriage people will look as tolerant as pre-conversion George Wallace in front of a desegregated schoolhouse. But right now these enemies of love get to walk among us as regular people.

Guys at my high school used to have ignorant and flawed views about gay people all the time. It was no big deal.

But some students at Michigan Law are trying to make it a big deal. And that’s pretty exciting….

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