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Seton Hall Law School cuts faculty compensation by 10%; gives notice to all untenured faculty of possible termination

[ 22 ] July 1, 2013 |

1. The law school has given notice to its entire junior faculty, approximately seven untenured professors, that their contracts might not be renewed for 2014-2015.
2. The affected professors will be able to teach for the 2013-2014 academic year, but could be terminated after that.
3. As part of a larger effort to streamline the law school and control costs, these notices have been issued to preserve all of the administration’s options.
4. But the notices could ultimately be rescinded — and the administration hopes to be able to rescind them, provided it can find the needed savings elsewhere within its budget.

The school’s dean:

Because of the dramatic drop in interest in legal education, all schools must make decisions about the size and quality of enrollment. We will stand for quality and that will necessitate an adjustment of our costs going forward. With the University’s support, the faculty, administration and I are working together to make those adjustments. The faculty has already made a significant contribution toward continuing excellence by giving back 10% of total compensation.

Story at ATL.

Notes:

(1) Superficially, Seton Hall has much better employment statistics than the average law school, as two thirds of the 2012 class got legal jobs (full-time non-temp, non-law school funded, non-solo bar-required positions. The national average was 52%). This number may be significantly inflated, however, by New Jersey’s state court clerkship system, which put nearly 30% of the class into one year state judicial clerkships, which count as long-term legal employment by this definition, even though most of them are one year positions).

(2) Seton Hall’s tuition and fees have gone from $29,950 in 2004 to $48,640 this fall (that’s per year).

(3) The 82% of the class of 2012 that incurred law school debt had an average (mean) of approximately $145,000 in such debt at repayment in the fall of last year. The median was certainly higher. (This figure does not include an unknown amount of other educational debt. A recent report indicates that average undergraduate debt among new college graduates with debt is now around $35,000, which suggests that somewhere close to half of Seton Hall’s 310 2012 graduates have $200,000 or more in educational debt).

Related: A golden not so oldie.

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Comments (22)

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  1. flipper says:

    Wow. This is big news.

  2. hb says:

    I suppose circumstances forced his hand, but I do admire the dean’s forthright description of the situation, especially when you contrast it with the “myth busting” bs Paul dissected earlier.

  3. Shalimar says:

    Does the Dean count as faculty? Did the rest of administration also take a 10% cut, or just faculty?

  4. Joshua says:

    Cutting tuition by 10% would be a nice gesture too.

  5. dp says:

    “approximately seven”? WTF? Can no one there count to ten?

    • Informant says:

      I had the same reaction. It’s not like they have fractional professors on staff. There either are seven or not.

    • snarkout says:

      That’s abovethelaw’s reporting, so it’s probably “we heard all the untenured professors, so we went to the faculty page and counted but might have missed one”.

  6. elm says:

    And Seton Hall isn’t one of the newly created or fly by night law schools. They’ve been around forever and though they’re not a great school, I always thought they had a solid reputation amongst the NJ law community, though my knowledge there is second hand and perhaps a little dated. But if they’re contemplating such drastic steps, a lot of other schools must be as well, albeit more quietly.

    • MacK says:

      In my – by now infamous suggestion that the baseline for law schools is a halving of capacity with a doubling of faculty productivity – Seton Hall would be one of the law schools that I thought would survive in New Jersey – with one of the Rutgers closing and two or more in Philadephia.

      I still think Seton Hall will survive – indeed I would be more optimistic about its future in light of the school meeting issues head on.

  7. ichininosan says:

    This will likely serve as a model for a few dozen failing law schools in major metropolitan areas — 10% pay cut, fire the junior faculty, maybe dump some real estate, live on to fight another day.

    But, if they were serious about “right-sizing,” they would buy-out many of the least productive (mostly older, I presume) faculty, reduce salaries by 50% (it’s not like the faculty can transfer to another school), and increase the teaching load from 2-3 to 4-6 classes per year, all while reducing class size by 50% to maintain standards.

    I guess I’m thinking way ahead. . . to like, 2014.

    • Paul Campos says:

      This would be the rational response, so it’s going to take awhile.

    • MacK says:

      A more common situation where there is more than one in the metro, will be to announce a merger – cut the next year’s classes and announce that faculty headcount will be halved and buildings sold/repurposed at one campus

  8. Sherm says:

    This is depressing. And I’m sure you heard that Weil Gotshal announced that its trimming its associate count by 7%, laying off 110 non-lawyer employees, and cutting partnership compensation by 10% on account of the “new normal.”

    • Paul Campos says:

      They didn’t cut partnership compensation across the board: they cut the draws of a bunch of grinders, so they could keep shoveling ever-more money to their rainmakers. (Weil is unusual in that the partnership agreement doesn’t allow partners to be fired except for cause, so this is among other things an attempt to force some people out).

  9. Bob Loblaw says:

    I am wondering about how they achieved their 10% pay cut for faculty. Is this something the faculty agreed to voluntarily, and did every last one of them do so? Do tenure rules generally allow for such a thing if the faculty does not?

    • Paul Campos says:

      (1) “Voluntarily” is a term of art here. I would guess central made the law school an offer it couldn’t refuse.

      (2) Don’t know about Seton Hall specifically, but under typical tenure rules all sorts of things become doable in an academic unit if central declares a financial exigency. This is related to (1) — central always has the option of just getting rid of a school if it won’t play ball.

  10. Halloween Jack says:

    And yet Ann Althouse still has a job. Goddamnit.

  11. Sooner says:

    “The students have already made a significant contribution toward our continuing existence by giving $48,640 per person, just this year, at 6.8% interest. These may just be the most generous students we have had to date.”

    That’ll show ‘em.

  12. [...] Paul Campos (Colorado), Seton Hall Law School Cuts Faculty Compensation by 10%; Gives Notice to All Untenured Faculty of Pos… [...]

  13. [...] been an eventful week in the law school world. Two law schools have announced the immediate or imminent downsizing of their faculties, while another has laid off a dozen staff [...]

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