January 20, 2010
Angry about the AALS Fee and Salary Issues We've Been Covering?
A reader points out that some may wish to voice their concerns directly to the AALS Executive Committee about these issues; he kindly supplies the pertinent information:
Members of the Executive Committee:
Michael A. Olivas, University of Houston Law Center firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorothy Andrea Brown, Emory University School of Law email@example.com
Ann C. Shalleck, American University Washington College of Law firstname.lastname@example.org
R. Lawrence Dessem, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law DessemRL@missouri.edu
Leo P. Martinez, University of California, Hastings College of the Law email@example.com
Rachel F. Moran, University of California, Berkeley School of Law firstname.lastname@example.org
Katharine T. Bartlett, Duke University School of Law email@example.com
H. Reese Hansen, Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School (2010 President) firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel B. Rodriguez, The University of Texas School of Law DRODRIGUEZ@LAW.UTEXAS.EDU
January 19, 2010
More on the AALS Annual Meeting Registration Rip-Off
A colleague elsewhere writes:
Thanks to GuideStar.com, I learned last night that Carl Monk made over $400,000 in salary and benefits during his last year, and I assume that Susan Prager is similarly overpaid. (The relevant forms haven't been filed for the years since her hiring.) Jane LaBarbera gets only about $200,000. So what we have, I suspect, is a classic group of corporate "leaders" who profit mightily from their ability to exploit a constituency that, to a remarkable degree, seems indifferent to being ripped off. It would be interesting, incidentaly, to compare AALS salaries (and registration fees) with, say, the American Historical Association, the APSA, the APA, and the like. I was struck a couple of years ago, when I went to the Eastern Division of the APA, to have to pay only around $65 (and, of course, I wasn't even a member). It was like visiting a different world. The people seemed smart and pleasant, and I didn't detect a paucity of intellectual engagement!
More precisely, in 2007, Mr. Monk, then the Executive Director of the AALS, earned over $475,000 in salary and benefits (salary: $361,732), while Ms. LaBarbera, the Managing Director, earned over $220,000 in salary and benefits (salary: $182,900). Their compensation alone accounts for about 13% of 2007 expenditures. Mr. Monk, certainly in my limited experience but as I also heard from others, was singularly unpleasant and officious to boot. Why would he be making more than most Deans of reputable law schools? Per the suggested comparison, the American Philosophical Association employs just two individuals full-time administrative staff, whose 2007 salaries were in the $50-70,000 range.
UPDATE: Thoughts from Larry Ribstein (Illinois).
January 16, 2010
So would reducing the high AALS Annual Meeting registration fees affect attendance?
Maybe, based on our last poll (with not quite 140 responses): two-thirds of respondents said they would either be "much" (24%) or "somewhat" (43%) more likely to attend (or attend more often) if the fee were cut in half from its current $425; a third of respondents said their decision to attend would be unaffected. There is, of course, as a colleague at Texas pointed out, a "moral hazard" issue here, which might explain why even though more than 80% think the fees are too high, only two-thirds say a change in the fee structure would affect their attendance: namely, that the vast majority of those attending have their registration fees paid for by their school. Even so, the cost burden is real. Take a colleague at a major law school who tells me he has a $3,000 annual travel & books budget. If he goes to AALS (from the West Coast), spends three nights in New Orleans, and, of course, registers and has meal costs, he will easily have spent more than a third of his entire budget (perhaps half) for the year in the blink of an eye; the registration fee alone eats up nearly 15% of his yearly budget!
So do the fees really need to be so high? A commenter here reports that the AALS Annual Meeting is, in reality, a big money-maker for the AALS, generating one-third of its annual budget! This suggests, dare I say, that's it's not the "gala" reception or the bagels and coffee that explains the outrageous registration fees. It would be nice if one of the progressively-minded Presidents of the AALS finally addressed this issue directly.
January 14, 2010
ABA Push to Accredit Law Schools Based on "Output" Measures
CHE covers the issues here, and apart from the damning and somewhat unfair article title ("Law Schools Resist Proposal to Assess Them Based on What Students Learn"), the funniest bit is this one:
Some law deans question whether the kinds of skills that make a good lawyer can be measured through traditional assessment techniques.
"It is worth pausing to ask how the proponents of outcome measures can be so very confident that the actual performance of tasks deemed essential for the practice of law can be identified, measured, and evaluated," said Robert C. Post, dean of Yale Law School.
This leads a commenter to remark: "Is the good Dean serious? If he and the Yale School of Law do not have the ability to 'identify, measure and evaluate' the 'tasks deemed essential for the practice of law,' then how can they be sure that they know how to teach these unidentified, unmeasured and unevaluated tasks? Perhaps it is time for them to pack it in." An amusing rejoinder, but of course the real issues are measuring and evaluating whether or not the graduates have acquired the skills. Everyone, including at Yale, can identify most of the requisite skills and knowledge, it's just they aren't taught in New Haven! (To quote a very eminent federal judge recommending his clerk for an academic position: 'He was a very good law clerk despite having gone to Yale.'")
January 13, 2010
Far Right George Mason Economics Professor Calling for Assassination of President Obama?
You read and decide. Another interpretation is that he's merely calling for a violent revolution against the U.S. government, but not specifically for the President's blood to be spilled. Either way, it's amazingly lunatic.
UPDATE (1/14): Professor Rowley has now edited his post, removing the concluding comment about the need to water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants (i.e., Obama) etc. Wise move on his part. (You can see the original quote here.)
AALS Annual Meeting Registration Fee Is Not (ahem) "Popular"
So with over 300 votes cast, over 80% of respondents think the registration fee is too high, and nearly half of those are obviously quite worked up about it (they chose the answer: "It is outrageous, and those at the AALS responsible for this highway robbery should be pilloried.") Only 11% were content with the status quo, though another 7% did think the fee was defensible given the level of services. Even discounting the results a bit in light of the fact that malcontents are more likely to respond, it's quite clear (and certainly consistent with all my anecdotal evidence) that the majority of law professors think the fee too high and unreasonable.
But would lowering it make any difference in terms of attendance? Let's try another poll. Please only respond if you are someone who does occasionally attend the Annual Meetings.
January 12, 2010
AALS Annual Meetings and Protecting the 'Consumer' (i.e., law professors)More pertinent thoughts on our topic du jour.
January 11, 2010
Laycock from Michigan to VirginiaDouglas Laycock, a leading authority in both the law of religious liberty and the law of remedies, currently at the University of Michigan Law School, will join the law faculty at the University of Virginia, where his wife, Teresa Sullivan, Provost at Michigan, has just accepted appointment as President. This isn't your typical "trailing spouse" case, since that's a big pick-up for UVA Law and a big loss for Michigan. (Laycock took emeritus status at Texas and moved to Michigan just a little over three years ago.)
AALS Annual Meeting Reflections #1: The Registration Fee
Having just come back from my first AALS Annual Meeting in at least a decade, I plan on posting a few thoughts and soliciting some reader feedback on ways of improving the meeting. But I thought I'd start with a little poll on what is always the first topic of conversation: the registration fee of $425, which is, as those who attend other professional society meetings know, quite a bit higher than the norm. I wrote about this long ago, but this year I, of course, paid it, actually did attend a few sessions other than my own (which were mostly interesting albeit uneven), and probably had five or six dollars worth of bagels, cookies and coffee provided by the AALS. Anyway, here's the poll:
January 8, 2010
Cyber-Stalking and Bar Admission
Saturday, Jan. 9, 8:30-10:15 am: The First Amendment Meets Cyber-Stalking Meets Character and Fitness
Cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment have made their way to the legal academy. Some scholars say that on-line attacks constitute protected free speech. Other scholars say that this conduct is tortious and raises serious equality and civil rights concerns since internet stalking is often directed at women and minorities. But what about the character and fitness requirements that law students sitting for the bar must satisfy? Do law students who engage in harassment, smearing, and other such conduct (on Facebook, blogs, "Above the Law," etc.) raise fitness and professionalism issues? Is there a problem with law students using websites to make outrageous gender- or race-specific comments (often about other students or faculty members)? (See http://lawvibe.com/the-autoadmit-scandal-xoxoth/ .) Is this conduct beyond question as free speech or does this conduct raise character and fitness issues that law schools must address? Does the fact that it is technologically difficult to identify all abusive posters impact the calculus?
Deborah L. Rhode, Stanford Law School
Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School
Brad Wendel, Cornell University School of Law
Lyrissa Lidsky, University of Florida, Levin College of Law
Danielle Citron, University of Maryland School of Law
Moderator: Elizabeth Nowicki, Boston Univ. School of Law, Tulane Law School
The standard First Amendment objections to such proposals are succinctly articulated by Professor Volokh (UCLA) here, though he does not, of course, characterize the speech at issue very precisely, let alone give examples. One might think a simple rule like, "No one shall be admitted to the Bar who repeatedly and with malicious intent posts on the Internet threats (implied or otherwise) of sexual violence against women" would not unduly impinge the marketplace of ideas. Admittedly, a standard like the one Professor Volokh purports to maintain for his blog--"I not only support but enthusiastically practice denial of access to our blog to people who say things that are vulgar or pointlessly rude or insulting"--would make a poor legal standard, but that, presumably, is not what anyone is proposing. (As an aside, I assume it will come as news to Ann Bartow, Marvin Jones, Ken Kress, and the many other law professors who have been subjected to vulgar, rude and insulting comments on Volokh's site that he practices any such "denial of access.") In any case, I expect this to be an interesting session and commend it to those in New Orleans.