*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.