Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ITLSS Hits the Media

Inside Higher Ed has a story this morning on this nascent blog project.  A quick comment:

Michael Olivas, the current president of the American Association of Law Schools (basically the trade association for ABA-accredited schools), makes a really bad argument when he suggests I return half my salary if I'm so guilt-ridden.  This reminds me of the argument that people who have an AGI of over $250K and who support the repeal of the Bush tax cuts for those in their income category should simply write a bigger check to the government, instead of trying to get the cuts repealed in general.  (If you need an explanation as to why this is a ridiculous argument you probably shouldn't be reading this blog, although apparently you're qualified to be president of the AALS).

BTW Michael Olivas's base salary from the University of Houston Law Center last year was $169,646.

I will have much more to say about law professor salaries soon . . .


  1. "(If you need an explanation as to why this is a ridiculous argument you probably shouldn't be reading this blog, although apparently you're qualified to be president of the AALS)."

    If people need an explanation as to why someone returning a portion of their individual salary will not lead to effective change, they probably do not belong in law school.

    To the slow crowd, i.e. Michael Olivas, if a professor returns a portion of his or her salary, this would represent a drop in the bucket. In addition, that money would simply go into the particular law school's or university's coffers. Do...you...understand...that?!?! Or do I need to draw you a diagram with Crayola on posterboard, Michael?

    Yes, this will lead to substantive change in the way professors and administrators are compensated, right?!

  2. Michael Olivas doesn't recognize the truth, and you do. You have the truth on your side. You know that. I know that. Keep up the good work. You have LOTS of supporters.

    I'd love to talk by phone. If you're interested, you can send me an email here (ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com).

    I have talked to a number of whistleblowers and people who wish to remain anonymous (it's part of my job). So, I wouldn't leak your identity.

    Keep up the great work!


  3. Nice blog. I have a similar one but from a different angle: http://classbias.blogspot.com/. I agree with most and could give examples but what I have discovered is that very few people on the other side of the issue will engage. Good luck.

  4. Personal Responsibility Trumps Systemic Risk

    The argument shifts one from discussing systemic risk (e.g., Is there something wrong with our legal system?) to personal responsibility (e.g., Is there something wrong with me?).

    It is a straw man, but effective. It is an appeal to an emotional truth. We are conditioned to respond to "personal responsibility" as the natural solution. It has the added value of requiring you to rebut it as "you say, he say."

  5. Like the posts so far, added to my blogroll.

  6. First of all, all power to LawProf for speaking truth to power. The following is but a small quibble.

    It is true that if LawProf returns a portion of his or her salary, this would represent a drop in the bucket and effect no change in the overall system.

    The same applies if someone who supports the repeal of the Bush tax cuts writes a bigger check to the government. But there is no denying that the bigger check *will* reduce the overall budget deficit, even if by a little. Consider: by all means donating a small bit to Oxfam will not eradicate world poverty, but it will feed that individual starving kid, which surely is not nothing. It's not a good enough argument to refuse to donate just because one's personal contribution will not make a dent in the systematic problem.

    So if LawProf meant what he says in "When people say 'law school is a scam,' what that really means, at the level of actual moral responsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students" (from the introductory post), then anything that helps the situation of at least some of those students has to count for something. Even if doesn't solve the overall problem as well.

    So how about this: gift half your salary each year, to be spread among your students.

  7. If Michael Olivas were serious about quality education, he would have proposed not returning half your pay, but performing the other half of your job. Of course, you might already be doing that, but not all us are.
    Can you imagine how much less the cost of legal education would be if we each taught just five courses a year?

  8. I basically agree with Philemon Loy...

    the LawProf is essentially saying it is useless in a situation where all or most members of a group must make a change to make a "real" difference, for one member to change his actions.

    But it is hard to square that view with the existence of charity at all. If people are willing to give where there is no requirement whatsoever on either themselves or others, why is it illogical that those who claim to believe something requires more funding give more than the requirement?

    If people choose to give their charitable dollars to areas other than the government, we are only left to conclude that those are more worthy causes than the government and that other motivations fuel the desire to "tax the rich" (most probably a desire to feel good about oneself without actually taking responsibility)


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