February 13, 2013
ABA Task Force Looks At Law School Reforms
The American Bar Association Task Force on the Future of Law Schools met over the weekend. Some news reports suggest that the task force is taking their charge seriously. ABC News quotes Task Force member Thomas W. Lyons III as saying "There is almost universal agreement that the current system is broken." The article further states:
Lyons, contacted by ABC News, spoke with candor and passion about the ills bedeviling legal education, which, he and other attorneys say, cloud the employment picture for new law school graduates and result in legal services priced high above what many Americans can afford to pay. Graduates, he notes, are entering practice lacking such basic skills as how to prepare routine legal documents.
This is nothing new, or at least nothing that hasn’t been in the public discourse for a while. The idea that a member of an ABA task force is saying the words may mean a bit more than hearing them from the New York Times. Some of the ideas include creating a limited-license category of practitioner (someone who can do some things like prepare documents and provide limited legal advice but not other tasks); changing the time required to take a law school program to qualify for a bar exam; and change the emphasis from theoretical to practical.
One group that came in for criticism is law faculty, who were characterized as highly paid while having little connection with practice. Oh, say it ain’t so. In fact, someone actually did. Here’s from the ABC article:
Professor Ngai Pindell takes strong exception to that characterization. Pindell is co-president of SALT , the Society of American Law Teachers, which represents law professors as well as other professionals in legal education.
Pindell, who is also associate dean of the law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, professes not to know what tenured law professors make, but says he suspects they are no more highly paid than dental school or medical school professors.
Really? A simple Google search on faculty salaries brings up a link to the Society’s newsletter which shows specific school detail on salaries. The median salary for law faculty at UNLV is $145,000 for example. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a broader academic salary survey that confirms how law is the highest paid academic discipline. The average salary for a law school full professor is reported at $134,162. Medical and dental faculty members are not listed, but full professors in health professions and related clinical sciences show an average salary of $95,437. Biological and biomedical science faculty salary averages at $92,505.
It’s an odd world from my perspective where practicing attorneys are brought in to a law school as nominally paid adjunct faculty to teach a skills class to law students. That only suggests the salary structure may be seriously out of whack given the current suggestions to reform law school. University presidents take note. I‘m looking forward to seeing where this goes. [MG]
Re: "The Chronicle of Higher Education has a broader academic salary survey that confirms how law is the highest paid academic discipline."
It's "confirms that," not "confirms how."
Posted by: anon | Feb 14, 2013 11:46:11 AM
"The average physician working as a clinical faculty member at a U.S. medical school made a total of $262,400 in the 2010-11 academic year...
"In comparison, the 1,145 physicians working as basic science faculty . . . compensation [was]. . . $150,600."
Modern Physician, http://www.modernphysician.com/article/20120207/MODERNPHYSICIAN/302079995
2011-12 data is also available, but behind a paywall: https://members.aamc.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Action=Add&ObjectKeyFrom=1A83491A-9853-4C87-86A4-F7D95601C2E2&WebCode=PubDetailAdd&DoNotSave=yes&ParentObject=CentralizedOrderEntry&ParentDataObject=Invoice%20Detail&ivd_formkey=69202792-63d7-4ba2-bf4e-a0da41270555&ivd_prc_prd_key=803DB9A8-0B4D-418C-A337-DDC4CAF903E9)"
Posted by: anon | Feb 14, 2013 11:43:05 AM