Sunday, January 13, 2013

The departed

The Boston Globe has a story in this morning's edition about John O'Brien, dean of New England Law School.

Some highlights:

*O'Brien's total 2011 compensation of $867,000 appears to be the highest for any law school dean in the country:

Pressed to name a dean who is paid more, Robert Gray, a political consultant hired by the school to help O’Brien answer questions from the Globe, cited only Brooklyn Law School, in New York City, where a dean and a president are paid combined salaries of more than $1 million.
Perhaps Robert Gray has access to information not available to the IRS, but according to Brooklyn Law School's 2011 990 form, its highest paid employee was "Joan G. Wexler, Esq.," who was paid only $658,451 for her service to the institution and its students.

*O'Brien's compensation packaged nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011.   In the former year his base salary was raised by the school's governing board (consisting, needless to say, of long-time friends of John O'Brien, who were paid mid-five figure stipends for their charitable service) from $437,900 to $615,000.

Foster, a Cambridge attorney with an active practice, ­received $74,500 a year for 15 hours of work per week. Board treasurer Darrell L. Outlaw, a retired district court judge, pocketed $42,000. And school corporation president John R. Simpson, a retired director of the US Secret Service who has since stepped down from the president’s post, took home $55,000.

But O'Brien's true compensation was increased vastly more than that, as the board also agreed to give him a $650,000 "forgivable loan," which he wouldn't have to pay back if he stayed at NEL (hence the 2011 total compensation figure).

*NEL's tuition nearly doubled between 2006 and 2012, from $22,475 to $40,984.

*Over roughly the same period (2004-2011) the school's admissions policies were transformed from "somewhat lax" to "constructive open admission," as the proportion of admitted applicants rose from 37.9% to 70%.  During this time the school's total enrollment increased by about 10%.

*O'Brien became dean 25 years ago, only four years after entering legal academia.  (He does not appear to have ever published any academic work of any sort, although I admit my research into this question was less than comprehensive).   The NEL board's claim that it had to make him the highest-paid law school dean in the country in 2008 by effectively doubling his compensation (if he wasn't already, which is unclear) because he was being pursued by other law schools is, shall we say, not terribly plausible, especially given that the board refused to identify any of the schools supposedly pursuing this paragon of administrative achievement.

*The board's other justification for enabling O'Brien's extraordinarily porcine behavior -- that he has greatly improved NEL's reputation during his 25-year tenure --, lacks any factual basis.  The school is unranked by USN, and its graduates have what can be fairly characterized as catastrophic employment prospects.

*The story does not mention that John O'Brien is the immediate past president of the ABA's Section of Legal Education -- that is, he has just departed from running the wing of the ABA which regulates the conduct of ABA accredited law schools.

59 comments:

  1. Such incomes are prettty much in a 50% tax bracket.

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    1. You know what's not in the 50% tax bracket? The income of loser nobodies who can't get a job even though they have multiple degrees, lol. That means you people.

      O'Brien is making $870,000 a year. Why can't you make 1/20th of that? What's wrong with you?

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  2. ^^^I mean, not that they still don't take in a lot of money.

    I wonder what percentage of their personal compensation is from student lending? Any way to tell?

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  3. LawProf, do you ever get tired of posting about New England Law and Dean O'Brien? Do you have a vendetta against O'Brien or are you just too lazy to write another scathing review about some other law school? Why not use your investigative skills to expose some other failing institutions that are part of this larger law school scam and let the students of NESL keep scoring above the average bar passage rate in MA.

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    1. LP was just pointing out the in-depth Globe story and sharing some of the lowlights.

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    2. Please go through the blog and let us know how many posts (out of 455) have mentioned Dean O'Brien (aka "you" or "your boss" or "your Dean") or NESL (aka "your school").

      Then go through and let us know how many have mentioned Cooley, Indiana Tech, TJLS, and other joke institutions.

      Thanks.

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    3. Yes, LawProf forced the Globe to write several thousand words on the topic. According to LST that stellar ability to absorb a bar review course translates into... surprise...disastrous employment outcomes.

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    4. Maybe b/c the atrocity that is NESL is so outrageous (which is saying a lot considering the company that it's in).

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    5. Because other institutions don't pay their Dean $867,000 on the justification that he bring opportunities to the school like the ability to pay Justice Roberts to teach a class in Malta.

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    6. New England Law might be at the bottom but at least the professors treat the students with respect. Something that can't be said about LawProf and his esteemed institution.

      http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2012/11/paul-campos-says-happy-thanksgiving-to-female-law-students.html

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    7. Yep, very respectful to raise their tuition from 22,000 to 40,000 in six years so you can hobnob with Supreme Court Justices who will never hire your graduates. Perspective.

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    8. Law schools do not deserve the credit for bar passage rates. The bar prep courses do.

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    9. Gosh Brian, it doesn't look like your outrage about LP's post regarding how the scam affects men and women differently is shared by anybody else. Oh, except for the "distinguished colleague" who supposedly forwarded you an email about that post, since you don't read this blog.

      You're a fucking joke.

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    10. @923: I've been losing sleep at how PC is singling out NESL. Keep up your careful, well thought out criticism of him.

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  4. NESL Median LSAT

    2013 153
    2014 151
    2015 149 (full time) 147 (part time)

    Schools are starting to lower admission standards faster than I would have thought. I expect the ABA will be more active in revoking schools accreditation as their bar passage rates begin to plummet.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think the ABA will do much of anything, it is populated by law professors and deans

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  5. Pay me $80K to be NESL's dean and I will guarantee its place in permanent mediocrity.

    The compensations scheme at this school, particularly with O'Brien's salary is a hybrid between a modified "bust out" and "cash out" schemes. NESL cannot sustain its operation forever. O'Brien knows this and he is milking the law school train already smelling the brakes bleeding to its core.

    Al Capone could not have envisioned a more profitable enterprise than the law school scam.

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  6. I feel bad for the students and their family's who were scammed into attending this toilet. All that work and all that debt is just accumulated so this ass-wipe can live like a king.

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  7. But I thought working in academia was a "service" profession. You know, all of these deans sacrificed their careers in biglaw b/c they wanted to serve the public.

    Keep doing the great work St. Campos.

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  8. But clearly Dean O'Brien could have made a guaranteed annual $867,000 in the private sector as a protected Partner at Ropes and Gray or Goodwin Proctor, so this is entirely justifiable.

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    1. Probably more, but that's the grenade you have to dive-on why you're so dedicated to public service.

      Excuse me, I need to get a tissue.

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  9. Joan G. Wexler...

    http://www.nothingnudehere.com/media/deathwish.swf

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    1. Keep in mind that these biosketchs that professors have in their websites are self-written. So when one says "President Wexler is a prominent member of the legal community." Wexler probably wrote that herself.

      https://www.brooklaw.edu/faculty/directory/facultymember/biography.aspx?id=joan.wexler


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  10. I was looking at the new ABA Section of Legal Education council members and none of them appear to be from third tier schools. Hopefully, this may have a negative impact on the accreditation of new schools.

    http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/about_us/leadership.html

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  11. This shitheel hasn't published any academic work in his entire twenty-five-year career? I (Old Guy) am a third-year law student, yet I already have a full-length article in a law review (not the one that I edit). I'll take O'Brien's job for a tenth of the salary. No doubt I can pull it off with a damn sight more aplomb.

    How much of the students'/public's money did O'Brien waste on this "political consultant" hired to do damage control?

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  12. Just the other day I was perusing Lawrence Lessig's blog...Lessig a "very important" person within the legal establishment with big liberal ideas from Harvard. I found this blog post where he posted the text from his commencement address he gave at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School because his nephew was graduating from it:

    http://www.lessig.org/2012/05/24065401182/

    Note that this school is a fourth tier toilet school. Also note that nowhere in the speech does he discuss the outrageous tuition the students pay thanks to the federal student loan program or that it is non-dischargeable. What is discussed is his pious demand that these students work for "the public good" even though they have these enormous loans hanging over them and can't afford to live out this pipe dream Lessig has painted fro them. Nowhere is it discussed what the actual employment numbers for these students/suckers are. Go and read it...I only touched on the sanctimonious whining.

    Meanwhile O'Brien is working in Lessig's backyard, making his enormous salary off the lifetime of indentured servitude soon to be forced on his students. Where is Lessig, that liberal champion? I guess when it comes to legal academia you can only be liberal in a very specific way and the ones below you who you make your lifetime of leisure off of....let them eat cake.

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  13. http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/2012/08/profiles-in-academic-thievery-john.html

    http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2012/08/law_schools_soaking_in_million.html

    On August 4, 2012, the Oregonian published a hard-hitting piece, from reporter Jeff Manning, entitled “Law schools revenues soar as they take in millions from tuition and fees, as supply exceeds demand.”

    Money Quote from Pig O’Brien:

    “John O'Brien, dean of the New England School of Law and chair of the ABA's legal accreditation committee, agreed the new schools are adding to a significant oversupply of lawyers. But the supply-demand imbalance is not a factor the ABA considers.

    "It's not the ABA's job to police the number of law schools," O'Brien said. "Law schools are like other businesses. Ultimately, that's what they are."

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    1. "On August 4, 2012, the Oregonian published a hard-hitting piece, from reporter Jeff Manning, entitled “Law schools revenues soar as they take in millions from tuition and fees, as supply exceeds demand.”

      Ironically, Manning is now the chief flack for the Oregon attorney general.

      Guess we aren't going to see any more hard-hitting pieces about law school from him...

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    2. Actually law schools are supposed to be professional schools regulated by a professional organization. Dean should get his story straight.

      QS

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  14. Generally, I am against the "blame the victim" strategy. But in the case of New England, what were those students thinking? There are nine (9) law schools in Massachusetts, and all but maybe one have higher standards and reputation than New England. You have to know that if you go here you'll be the laughing stock of the legal community and will never hold a job, legal or otherwise. This is just common knowledge in Boston. How could you respect a grad of an institution that plasters posters on subway cars?

    This doesn't excuse O'Brien from his role in fleecing his students and the government, but I don't think its wise to focus on schools like New England that everyone knows is a scam. It'd be much more helpful for the law school reform movement to look at reputable schools and show that even these schools engage in shady practices.

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    1. "How could you respect a grad of an institution that plasters posters on subway cars?"

      A telling question, really; we all know why so many private education shills advertise their wares on public transport. In Boston especially it seems like most subway ads are for private education. The entire industry exists to prey on the underprivileged, and advertising laws give them free rein to do so.

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  15. Here is an idea, although not a new one:

    "Institutions of higher education should be the cosigner of each and every school loan. If the graduate or dropout defaults due to unemployment or underemployment the institution of higher education becomes responsible for the bill, not parents and families"

    http://www.telegram.com/article/20130111/NEWS/101119689/1020

    And id law school is a business like any other, then the corporate veil should be pierced so that O'Brien and academics like him will have to personally indemnify the students whose lives he has ruined by manipulating and abusing the student lending system.

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  16. Of course, NELS proudly showcases their Center for Law and Social Responsibility.

    http://www.nesl.edu/centers/clsr.cfm

    You can't make this stuff up.

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  17. And yet....I graduated law school 10 years ago and never managed to get into the legal profession sue to lack of jobs.

    Burn the law schools down !!!

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  18. @10:23:

    Quote from O'Brien: ""Law schools are like other businesses. Ultimately, that's what they are."

    Except most business aren't profitable because the government backs their consumers' pockets with guaranteed federal loans. Imagine how profitable businesses would be if their customers' spending was all guaranteed by federally backed loans.

    Can you imagine that? "Come get your federally backed spending loan, so you can keep businesses in America in business. And, after all your spending, if you can't pay it back, don't worry, the feds will pay it off!"

    Yes, there seems to be absolutely no difference between a law school and a modern business. None at all.

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    1. Am I the only one who wishes to extend this fantasy to foreign companies too?

      Can we make federally backed loans available for Prada, Vuitton and Louboutin?

      Maybe if we explained buying into the law school scam at the level of the government paying for my orange soled heels if I can't manage to pay the bill- people would understand how the public is going to be left paying for loans that schools scammed students into borrowing with false employment stats.

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    2. These crooks don't even pretend to care about ethics or about being perceived as educators.

      Makes me sad. But reality is that the deans only care about money.

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  19. @9:23

    Of course LawProf shouldn't post anything negative about O'Brien or New England Law. His goal should be to sweep such unpleasantries under the rug. After all, we don't want to trouble our already overburdened heads with unpleasant facts now, would we?

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  20. Let's put this in perspective...This dean gets paid $16,673.08 a week. or $72,250.00 a month. Why bother playing the lottery?

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    1. Generously assuming a 40 hour week, this adds up to an hourly pay that is greater than the weekly take-home of many (most?) of his grads in their first year.

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  21. It disgusts me how these filthy pigs who have been feeding at the federally backed trough for decades now openly flaunt they operate as businesses yet they are not subject to taxation or consumer protections like any other business. It is time the IRS starts treating these scam artists as regular businesses instead of continuing to treat them as a taxpayer albatross.

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  22. I assumed when I read this post that the dean was grabbing the tapestries off the walls as the torch-wielding mob was pounding down the doors. But it turns out he got the boost to pay off his ex-wife and set himself up in a style designed to attract younger women.

    Tale as old as time...

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  23. He was being paid $867,000 a year AND he needed a "political consultant hired by the school to help (him) answer questions from the (Boston) Globe."

    No, there's nothing abnormal about that whatsoever.

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  24. Great job law prof! Your efforts are not going unnoticed. The deans at te other 4-6 Boston law schools, harvard-Boston college etc., are waking up to their morning paper feeling wondering WTF? How does this rat hole dean get all that money for a crap school and I only am getting half?
    He will have sone explaining to do to his fellow dean colleagues, that is if they have the balls to as the hard questions...
    Most importantly he should explain to the 300+ students a year who graduate without any possibility of a law job and go home to mom and daddy's basement with 200k debt and a worthless piece of paper, how he deserves that kind of money!
    It's all about the Benjamin's!! At least at NESL.
    I knew it was a toilet bowl when a student called me in jan to try and convince me to attend this gulag. Probably the most uncomfortable conversation ever... I felt too bad for her to hang up and treat her like a sleazy telemarketer. Good riddance!

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  25. * excuse the spelling and grammar errors. I'm writing from my iPhone...

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  26. i think you misread NESL's statement about Brooklyn, which is probably technically accurate, as Brooklyn has separate people in the roles of President (Wexler) and Dean. So their combined salaries would total $1 million if the Dean makes at least $342,000. NESL, like most standalone schools, has one person in each role.

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  27. Anyway, Brooklyn Law Skule is another stinking toilet that exists mainly for the sake of its overpaid professors and obscenely overpaid (mal)administrators.

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  28. He may not have written any scholarly articles, but perhaps he can publish a how-to on networking, his true area of expertise. Here is proposed Chapter One: Making Friends in High Court places.

    Dean O'Brien: Will you be my friend, or at least say something really nice about me and my crappy crappy school?

    Justice BigWig: Denied. When your top grads apply for clerkships in my chambers, I spray their resumes with lysol before disposing of them, because the very name of your school emits a rotten odor of failure.

    Dean O'Brien: But...I will provide you with free travel and lodging to and from the Island of Malta, or Galway, Ireland, or the ritzy Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, plus ample compensation for your time. I am glad to do it, the funds come from my students.

    Justice BigWig: Tempting, tempting, but I still wouldn't hire your grads.

    Dean O'Brien (laughing): Nobody hires our grads. The important thing is that you praise me. Also, compliment the school, so that I can justify my own travel and lodging expenses as networking.

    Justice BigWig (sotto voce): You drive a hard bargain, but very well. (loudly): This is a marvelous law school that you have. You have been very fortunate here to have Dean O'Brien. He has really been wonderful for this law school, and he’s widely respected across the land. And I just think you really have a gem here so you take care of him, OK? And that’s a court order.

    http://www.nesl.edu/media/news.cfm?newsDetailID=4166

    http://www.nesl.edu/media/news.cfm?newsDetailID=3982

    dybbuk

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  29. CHAPTER 2: IT'S ALL IN THE PRESENTATION

    Scene: Home of the Dean, an opulent but tasteful, tudor-styled English manor - not too garish or overly done, but elegantly stylish.

    The Dean's living room. The walls are covered with bookshelves loaded with prestigious, leather-bound books, with titles like "Social Justice," "The Dean's Role in Preserving Access to Justice for Everyone" and "The Law School Dean and His Role in Building Competent, Successful and Financially Responsible Leaders for Tomorrow."

    Dean O'Brien is seated on a tasteful, leather sofa. In walks an eighteen-year old blonde, 36-26-36.

    POTENTIAL THIRD WIFE (PTW): Honey, when we gonna go to the Caymans? Can we go away next week?

    O'BRIEN (OB)(laughs): Honey, you know we can't go next week. I have that graduation speech I have to give to our hapless grads. I gotta do something, darling, to earn that lavish salary of mine. Gosh, but I just love that you want to spend so much time with me, little chicklet. So glad you love me for me and not for my money. (Pulls her onto his lap and gives her an affectionate nuzzle.)

    PTW (laughs nervously): But of course I love you for you and NOT your money! (Another nervous giggle.) But I want to get away. The stress of the ACT exams has me bummed out.

    OB: We'll get away soon enough, Chicklet. After next week, I have a sweet teaching gig where I am invited to San Salvadore to teach two 4-week long seminars to lemm - ahem, I mean to students, where I will be teaching about Social Justice and Poverty and how law schools can increase access to justice for lower-incomed populations. Not that I know much about that, my little Chicklet, but that's yours and my little secret. (winks and nuzzles her ear.) You'll be going with me, Chicklet, won't you?

    PTW: Of course I will. I don't think I have to babysit for that week. So, whaddya gonna talk about at next week's graduation speech to all them students of yours?

    OB: Well, darling, graduation speeches are actually quite easy, cause it's not really what you say. I'll of course get up there and congratulate the students and commend them for taking this important path in their lives. And I'll talk to them about how the future is theirs and all that stuff and how important it is to give back to their communities and all that. But what's really important isn't what I say, honeybun. It's all in the graduation caps and gowns the students wear. I made sure to order really fancy caps and gowns, so that when the students' parents see them all dressed up like that, they'll be happy they spent their money on their kid becoming a lawyer. It'll all look so official. And when their kid rides back with them after the graduation to move back home, they'll still be all proud, even when the neighbors say 'but your kid moved back home with you' they'll get all teary eyed and say, 'yeah, but he's a law school graduate and he's gonna do all sorts of cool stuff for the community and give back to the community and stuff.' Even when their kid gets that first student loan bill and they realize with horror that he isn't ever going to be paying it off, they'll close their eyes and remember how good he looked in that fancy graduation gown and they'll still be proud.

    You see, little one, that's my secret - it's all in the presentation. It really doesn't matter what you say - it's how you say it.

    PTW: (Eyes widen as understanding dawns on her and she demonstrates a perception and understanding unusual for someone her age.) I get you, Daddy-O! Ah, Daddy-O, you're so smart! (The look in her eyes is replaced by admiration as she nuzzles him.

    End of Chapter 2, which ends on a happy note, with the couple nuzzling one another, snuggled up on the fancy leather sofa.

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    1. First, make it a film. Then you should make the dean's longer speech a voice over and do a montage of Grant Graduate inspecting the fine garment, showing his parents, walking across the stage, beaming with pride in the car afterwards, moving back home, dealing with student lenders, and blowing guys for Sallie Mae money in a dark alley.

      Have your agent call my agent (please tell me you didn't hire a law school grad...) and let's write this thing.

      Delete
  30. Dean John O'Brien is the Bernie Madoff of legal education.

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  31. Lawprof:

    Not only are kids looking at the drop in LSAT takers and applicants who are high scorers as meaning this is the time to apply, now they ate thinking that with smaller clas sizes, employment chances at lower tier schools will
    Be improving.
    Worse, they are using data from this blog- so they must be trying to pay attention. To me, this just proves how deep the scam has gone and how long it has lasted. People still think of being a lawyer as a strong, viable career- even while the smart money runs from law.

    http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=202035

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    1. Special snowflakes be special.

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  32. "Not only are kids looking at the drop in LSAT takers and applicants who are high scorers as meaning this is the time to apply, now they ate thinking that with smaller clas sizes, employment chances at lower tier schools will
    Be improving."

    No, they're making a somewhat good decision, financially speaking.

    Economically, and I would like MacK's imput on this, what is happening is that the high scorers are going to get bags of money dropped on them at the lower tier schools.

    What's going to happen in the law schools is that they are first going to throw massive amounts of scholarships at the problem hoping that it goes away. So, they will cannabalize their goodwill with the parent institution to solve what they will argue is a *temporary* problem.

    This is a *good* sign and it's *good* for the high-scoring students. It means that the law school bubble is deflating *and* it means that these particular students will get much less debt.

    Now, if they are going to lower tier schools *without* scholarships. Well, that's just dumb.

    Campos needs to blog on *this* trend, because its the trend to watch.

    It's a symptom of collapse and is excellent news for people who like reality and dislike delusion.

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    1. Most lower-tiered schools aren't even worth it with a full ride unless you get a living stipend to cover expenses.

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  33. There is a pipeline of history and English lit majors. Until that tap starts running slow, the law school well is going to be primed and producing.

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  34. This guy is the Angelo Mozillo of the subprime JD business.

    I do hope the IRS checks to see if he declared COD income received upon the forgivness of the loan.

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