The Right Coast

February 10, 2006
Law prof salaries
By Tom Smith

Here's the low down on law prof salaries in the UC system. In dollars per unit of distinguishedness, they do seem pretty low. Jesse Choper gets only $198K per year? On the other hand, bear in mind that profs on this level in the food chain can make their salary and more consulting, if they decide they want to work more than 20 hours a week. Also, if you include non-salary, cash compensation, such as housing allowances, the numbers look more in line with the market, but still hardly generous, or up to what you would think such big names should be getting. UVA salaries are better. But they are hardly jaw dropping. I don't know how the USD piggy bank is doing, but I should think a number of these stars could come to USD and improve their style of life, in terms of money, sunshine and traffic. But money isn't everything (as the dean explained for the nth time). Housing is expensive in SD, however. On the other hand, all the law professors at USD are so wonderfully witty and friendly, it makes up for that. The moral of the story for young prof persons coming up, might be, consider the advantages of private institutions.

LET ME add that I am not trying to say teaching at a public institution does not have many big advantages. A school such as UCLA, for has example, has a huge, gorgeous campus, and many very strong departments, not just law. When I visited there some years ago, I took the opportunity to hook up with some UCLA astronomers, who were nice enought to let me tag along to some astronomy events. I was in geek heaven. It takes a big multiversity to pull that off. Plus big universities have cultural lives associated with them. My idea of heaven is a big university in a small college town located close to great skiing. Many years ago I had an offer to stay at such a place, but the salary was such I could barely afford to live in the lovely college town, and so ended up going elsewhere. Hard to have your cake, etc.