Friday, March 17, 2006

Correlation between increasing tuition and increasing law prof's salary ($136,634)?

I was reading Law, Love & Life and I clicked on her link to this article on At the very bottom of the article is this chart:

I can understand why Medicine is expensive. And I can understand, to a certain degree, why Dentistry is expensive. The article explains that:
At UBC, for example, the cost of tuition, dental instruments, clinic fees and other fees totals $172,000 over the four years of the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. And that doesn't include food or lodging.
But it is not obvious why law school tuition is so high. Do we use expensive cadavers? No (as far as I know). Do we consume expensive chemicals as we're mixing our metaphors? No. Are legal instruments expensive? Certainly not at Queen's. As it stands, the only "instruments" the school provides are pens and paper for students during exams and chalk for professors.

My guess is that the bulk of our tuition goes to pay faculty salaries. If that's the case, then are the recently unveiled 4% and 8% increases in tuition required to pay our profs? How were they paid in 1993 when students were only paying $2,500 in law school tuition? I would love to see a chart with rising tuition on one side and rising faculty salaries on the other. Research project anyone? Some information below might help.

Back in 2002, when UofT tuition was slightly lower than the current $16,xxx, Jim Phillips penned an OpEd about faculty salaries for Ultra Vires. He wrote:
The draft is vague about a lot of things, but not about $1.7 million for a "faculty recruitment and retention fund". There is no evidence presented for why we need this fund, for the simple reason that the evidence is not there.
He noted that the average starting salary for a UofT prof is about $100,000CDN (which is actually pretty cheap when you consider an article claiming that the Iraq war is costing Americans $100,000US per minute) and Jim stated that this $1.7m fund was needed to prevent faculty from going south. The dreaded brain drain to the USA. OK, let's check it out. What are law professors making down there?

In 2002 (same year), an article on gives us some numbers:
Salaries range from about $70,000 for a beginning instructor at smaller schools to between $200,000 and $250,000 a year, including summer grants and other support, for a top academic at a prestigious major university, according to law professors and published reports. At the University of Virginia School of Law, which many professors believe is the highest paying institution, 15 professors earned between $200,400 and $284,000 in 2001.
Based on this comparison, a starting salary at UofT actually makes quite a bit more than at a "smaller" school but we can't compare with, say, a law prof starting at Yale. Who knows. Anybody want to dig deeper?

We do know that law professors make a lot more than other profs. A recent post on a UBC blog has the title: Faculty Salaries Rise by 3.4%; Law Professors Still Earn the Most.
Law professors continue to lead the list. According to the survey, full professors in the field earn an average annual salary of $136,634. Even new assistant professors in law make nearly $80,000 a year. That is about the same average salary that full professors in history earn. New assistant professors in history average about $45,000.
Wow - that's a huge difference! But it's not difficult to justify it, even to the critics who say it's exorbitant.

On the one hand, it seems unjust when you think of the number of years that the history professors put in compared with the law professors. I believe a new assistant professor in history would have a minimum of 8 years post-secondary education (3 years for a BA + 5 years for MA/PhD) and an average new recruit would have about 10 years. Meanwhile, a new law professor could have as few as 6 years (2 years of undergraduate + 3 years LLB/JD + 1 year LLM) but the average is closer to 8 and now, with PhD law professors increasingly common, maybe even 11 or 12 years. Potentially less education and more money. Of course, this may say more about the value of a history degree.

On the other hand, if they were working in private practice, what would they be making? Probably more than $136k. In fact, one prof said to us on his first day of class, "you know I want to be here because I took a significant cut in pay to teach."

Based on the title ("still"), it seems like law professors have historically outpaced other faculty for $$$. Is the gap getting wider? Apparently.

Finally, how did they justify this 3.4% raise in salaries? According to the Bank of Canada, inflation rates were 1% - 2% last year and they are on the same track for this 2006. Not 3.4%. Is this the reason why our tuition continues to go up and up?


At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Students at law schools around the country are starting to clue in on rising faculty salaries. U of T has started an upward trend with regard to salaries and the other Canadian schools have been forced, to some degree, to follow their lead. Ultra Vires at U of T and Obiter at Osgoode in the last year have extended articles on this subject.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

Thank you so much for this comment!
I've raised this issue with some friends in law school and the reaction has been:

"So what? They would be making loads more on Bay Street. We need to pay for good talent."

My response: "Yes, but to what end? Are you going to say that a $250,000 salary is justified? It is still below Bay Street salaries? Our tuition would ratchet up over $25,000. Are you fine with that?"

Their response: "We have to pay for talent."

I have yet to meet anyone who believes the current salary levels to be exorbitant.

At 12:24 AM, Anonymous Viet Armis said...

Profs at Queen's make about $125k/yr (according to the annual Whig Standard rundown of Queen's salaries over $100k). Some make more, some make less.

At first glance that seems low by Bay St. standards. But on a billable hour basis, it's probably right where it should be. Look at the benefits of academic life:
- no partners breathing down your neck because you didn't bill at least 2,300 hours last year
- great work-life balance
- great benefits package
- 9-to-5 hours
- 4 months of summer holidays
- sabbatical every few years
- bigger house than you could buy in T.O.
- great launching pad for a judgeship

All that can be yours for a mere two published academic papers a year and a few hours in class every week.

At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuition hike is everywhere, and it just happens without any notice for students before it. If students can ask why tuition fees have to increase, I do not think schools or governments can comment in detail in a way to persuade students. I believe that if school's annual budget can be investigated, it may identify some unnecessary spending, which can minimize the tuition hike.

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Viet Armis said...

Here are the 2005 salaries of Queen's Law profs.:

AMANI $100,944.59
ANAND $117,899.80
BAILEY $125,296.64
BAINES $128,257.20
BALA $145,143.50
BARTLEY $129,052.67
COCKFIELD $116,047.52
CORBETT $144,445.21
FLANAGAN $149,909.50
FREEDMAN $101,174.48
KING $105,459.13
LAHEY $123,736.02
MANDELL $108,998.25
MANSON $122,840.14
PARDY $111,932.50
PEPPIN $128,907.15
PRATT $104,065.14
STUART $133,496.02
TROTTER $131,366.50
WALTERS $109,593.04
WEISBERG $105,772.86

Only profs. who cracked $100k are on the list.

Source: Ontario Salary Disclosure 2006 (Disclosure for 2005) Universities


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