Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Signing Bonuses for Junior Faculty?

A colleague elsewhere writes:

I've just heard from my Dean that at least one law school is offering signing bonuses ($25,000) to entry-level candidates. I've never heard of this before. Is it becoming common? And, whether it is or not, should it? It is a way to attract candidates without distorting the pay scale. Certainly other blandishments -- reduced teaching loads, sabbaticals, higher travel/RA allowances, book budgets, and so forth -- are by now unexceptionable. I can imagine that a school might prefer a one-time payment to a long-term commitment, and a rookie teacher might like the extra cash for travel or a downpayment on a house or something of that sort. But it feels a bit odd, and I'm not sure law schools want to go the path of major firms. Any reaction?

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If competition among the schools for "hot" young law profs is tight, like pro teams hiring draft prospects, signing bonuses are a natural consequence. In fact, many firms in effect give signing bonuses to new hires who defer their first year to clerk for a federal judge.

And if the competition gets even hotter, then we can expect other inducements to arise, such as, "performance incentive clauses" like, oh,

> an additional $30,000 for the first law review article placed in a top 20 law review within the first 12 months; $50,000 if it is in a top 10 review;

> an additional $50,000 for the second top 20 article;

> an addtional $25,000 if, after the prof's first year, the law school rises in the USNWR rankings (sorry Brian); $35,000 if it gets into the next plateau (e.g., from the 20's to the teens);

> etc.

Posted by: Fred Moss | Feb 5, 2008 9:34:28 AM

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