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OK, now you really cannot be serious

[ 163 ] April 15, 2014 |

Updated below

In a stunning last-minute upset, Erwin Chemerinsky and Carrie Menkel-Meadow’s NYT piece appears to have been nipped at the wire by Oregon Law School professor Rob Illig for top honors in today’s Law Profs Posting Clueless Tone-Deaf Things on the Internet contest. Illig sent a couple of emails around, bewailing a proposal by the dean to dedicate this year’s faculty raise pool to funding public interest sector fellowships for what would otherwise be unemployed grads of the school (Oregon’s employment stats are horrendous).

I’ve watched as our culture has eroded now for almost three years.
Everyone is in everyone else’s business, instead of their own. Everyone
is worried about what everyone else is getting, not what they can
personally contribute. If some professor or professors want to donate
their raise to the students – or to some other worthy charity – that’s
their business. (Personally, i give to Food for Lane Country, Planned
Parenthood, and the United Way. I feel that having given up the chance
at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students, and
I am particularly saddened by hungry children. Maybe I should move that
the recipients of summer stipends donate those funds to the poor and
needy?)

I believe the children these days favor the acronym WTF? to describe the appropriate reaction to this.

But wait there’s more. In reaction to a commenter pointing out, reasonably enough, that under the circumstances Illig should count himself lucky to have his current job:

No Justin, it’s quite the opposite. The UO and its students are lucky to have me and all the other wonderful university faculty and staff who have sacrificed to be here. It’s time somebody said out loud what a great contribution every faculty and staff member is making to this community And all of us would be making more money at any of our competitor universities.

We know jobs for graduates are scarce, but scaring us away won’t make more jobs appear. And believe me, we’re working hard to help the students. That’s our job.

In my former life, I was an M&A lawyer at a large New York law firm, where I was all but certain to be earning more that $1 million annually. No one can tell me I’m not on the students’ side.

My students are my life. I sacrifice for them every day. Today, I spent the morning trying to get one of them a summer job at Nike. I do the same every day.

But ask yourself how many of those UO graduates would have jobs if I and the other dedicated faculty and staff at this university left.

Illig was an associate at Nixon Peabody, a mid-sized Boston firm, for seven years, so how he knows that he was “all but certain” to end up getting paid like a top rain-making partner is fairly mysterious, as is his belief that there’s a tremendous demand out there right now for former Oregon Law School faculty members who dump their $150,000 jobs in a fit of pique. (How this act of professional self-immolation would depress Oregon’s already abysmal employment results is also left unexplained).

There’s a bunch of other stuff in there about his Summer Sports Institute, the financial struggles of law professors, the ingrates who fail to appreciate the sacrifices he’s making etc., that has to be read to be believed.

Or maybe this is all an elaborate parody.

Update: I suppose it’s a sign of progress that the Chemerinsky/Menkel-Meadow NYT piece has produced nothing but what sounds very much like embarrassed silence from all the top legal academic blogs, not one of which so much as mentioned it today (Normally of course a NYT op-ed regarding the state of legal education would set off a commenting frenzy in our severely self-referential little world).

Comments (163)

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  1. Jojo says:

    I wonder if guys like Brian Leiter read this and think, “why do I throw in with these guys?” It’s officially harder to support the law school establishment than it is to be a Cubs fan.

    • Tybalt says:

      On the other hand, the vast majority of the UO law faculty seem to be supporting a plan to hand their raises over to funding public interest fellowships for their students. And you know what? That makes me feel better about law professors than anything for a while.

      • fledermaus says:

        this is a good point. Kudos to all the OU faculty not named Rob Illig

      • ichininosan says:

        Law schools create school-funded positions to create misleading employment figures (Georgetown, George Washington, William & Mary are adept at this). Oregon has been falling fast in US News’ rankings for the past several years and faculty are clearly fretting about this. By goosing the employment figures, they can improve their U.S. News ranking or at least try to prevent greater drops. A higher US News ranking leads to more applications, and thus more matriculants. Bottom line: more money.

        • L2P says:

          I have a hard time being that cynical. This sounds like a Oregon’s trying to do something to help out the students and I’m not going to second-guess their motives without some reason.

          • ichininosan says:

            I take your point. My understanding is that faculty decisions like this tend to be consensus / majority vote, so I can’t really say that there was an “intent” (as I implied above). I assume most professors (evidently, not all) believe that they are doing something good for their graduates by creating this program. The problem with funded positions (there are around 700 nationwide) is that they typically last only a year or so and do nothing to address the underlying problem which is the oversupply of graduates / undersupply of jobs. Oregon could do more for their future graduates by taking in fewer students or dramatically lowering tuition, but they are not.

        • Tybalt says:

          Oh I wouldn’t expect them to do it purely out of the goodness of their hearts (unlike Prof. Illig, who seems to be under the illusion that they are). They’re getting something out of it. It’s still a very good thing.

    • Barry says:

      “I wonder if guys like Brian Leiter read this and think, “why do I throw in with these guys?” It’s officially harder to support the law school establishment than it is to be a Cubs fan.”

      Remember, they are peons; *he* is a Chicago Law School Professor.

  2. Hothead says:

    Everyone is in everyone else’s business, instead of their own. Everyone is worried about what everyone else is getting, not what they can personally contribute.

    Hey Rob Illig,

    I take it you don’t like hot sauce considering your reaction when you think everyone be jalapeño business…

  3. Fledermaus says:

    Wow. Now that is some cluelessness. He could quit in the morning and UO would have 20 impressive CV’s from potential replacements on the dean’s desk by lunch.

  4. BoredJD says:

    http://law.uoregon.edu/2014/02/12/summer-sports-institute/

    While I’m sure Eugene in summer is just swell, this doesn’t hold a candle to learning ConLaw from a tanned John Roberts in Malta or sharing a pint in Salzburg with Anthony Kennedy, other experiences law students at TTT trash heaps can buy with federal loan dollars.

    Come on, Illig, get it together!

    http://www.mcgeorge.edu/Anthony_Kennedy.htm
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/john-roberts-arrives-in-malta_n_1647506.html

  5. JustinV says:

    Isn’t the fact that he left for the academy after seven years possibly significant? That’s about when the people I know who are law partners figured out whether or not that was going to happen.

    • toberdog says:

      Absolutely. More than likely he was told to find a new position. At a minimum he saw the handwriting on the wall and left while the leaving was still good.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        This was one of the many useful things I learned in paralegal school. One of my instructors taught us that someone leaving biglaw after seven years in order “to pursue other interests” or the like is invariably bullshitting. If he left after, say, three years it might be because he realized that biglaw is a hell hole and he wanted nothing to do with it. But seven years is precisely the timing to indicate that he was shown the door: he wasn’t going to make partner, and they could some other, cheaper associate.

  6. Not a White Guy says:

    Oooh, oooh, don’t forget the money quote:

    Is this some kind of faculty version of white-man’s guilt?

    http://abovethelaw.com/2014/04/law-professor-outraged-by-plan-to-use-his-raise-to-fund-jobs-for-unemployed-graduates/3/

    • Pinkish Guy says:

      Yeah, how obnoxious, and unnecessary to his bad argument. As a child of the South, I have to wonder if his study at Vanderbilt didn’t affect him.

  7. Peter Aduren says:

    The esteemed Professor Illig seems like an upstanding citizen whose very real sacrifices should not be the subject of ridicule by Campos or his flock of internet trolling Camposinos. As for Professor Leiter, his support for those brilliant martyrs who sacrifice lucrative careers in the comfortable and engaging service of law firms to teach the insolent youth should never be questioned.

  8. MacK says:

    Reposting

    Robert Illig graduated from Vanderbilt in 1996 – and took a job at Nixon Peabody in New York and was according to his resumé at Nixon Peabody 1996-2003 in New York and London. Nixon Peabody is a good firm, but not top of the pile. He is only admitted in New York which means that he did not take the QLTT (to qualify in England) which he should have done were he on path to be a partner. At Nixon Peabody the partnership track by 2003 was 9 years or so, so he jumped as at best a 6-7th year associate. Given that he stayed in BigLaw for more than the typical 18 months to 30 months, he probably was not planning an academic career – and as a 6-7 associate was told he was not going to be a partner. A non-partner at Nixon Peabody has zero chance of making $1mm p.a. A 6-7 year associate has perhaps a 20-50% chance of making non-equity partner, depending on how strong his practice area is when he is up for decision – M&A is notoriously volatile, with deep deep troughs.

    2003 was a cyclical trough in the M&A cycle – the value of M&A deals fell from a peak of around $3 trillion in 2000, having risen steeply from 1996-2000, to a little over $1 trillion – i.e., about 2/3s by 2003 – in 1996 if you had a pulse and a decent JD you could get a job in M&A law. The number of M&A deals fell from around three and a half thousand to close to two thousand by 2003. M&A partners were selling pencils in the street, associates were fired in droves, especially mid-level to senior associates. A 6-7 associate at Nixon was lucky to get a few months to find a job, or a faculty position. For any to have been a partner making $1mm would have been surprising.

  9. Something in Eugene's Water? says:

    What is it with these completely clueless dipshit Oregon law profs?

    Full Video of Oregon Law Professor, Got Arrested Saying, “Start a War. Get a Gun. Shoot Me First.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzvAOqRtUoA

  10. Nobdy says:

    I like his assumption that if the whole faculty left the school students would continue to attend, continue to rack up the same debt, and have worse outcomes. It’s as if attendance and price are completely inevitable and outside human control.

    He also has an extraordinarily high opinion of himself, his abilities, and how “lucky” the students who lard up with debt to be gifted with his wisdom are, even though very few of them get good jobs afterwards.

    • BoredJD says:

      In all seriousness, his posts seem to be under the mistaken impression that all the law professors need to “do something out of the box” that doesn’t require cutting salaries or increasing teaching loads. This may be impossible for them to accept, but no amount of practical legal education, Sports Law programs, or calls to Nike’s internship program are going to fix the

      • BoredJD says:

        debt and oversupply problem.

        What needs to happen is they need to go back to the cost structure of 30 years ago. Part of that is getting these faculty members who believe that they are martyrs for not demanding as much as their private sector classmates out of the academy. That culture is toxic and its high time it changes.

  11. T.E. Shaw says:

    It’s good to see all these former law school gunners still know how to feverishly write BS entirely divorced from the real world in an attempt to beat the curve.

  12. Tybalt says:

    Fascinatingly, Illig’s last publication was a (very slightly) glorified book report called “A Business Lawyer’s Bibliography: Books Every Dealmaker Should Read”. His previous publication was four freaking years ago.

    And yes, JustinV, it’s very significant. 7-8-9 years is up/out time.

    • JustinV says:

      Right. Without divulging too many personal details, I am a graduate of a top law school and have many friends still in BigLaw in New York, Chicago, and DC (I left because it turned out I hated it and was lucky enough to get other opportunities). I also know enough from dinner conversation with people who hire and friends who get headhunter calls that Vanderbilt and 7 years of M&A experience for a mid-size firm ten years ago doesn’t get him much more money than he his probably making right now.

      • Tybalt says:

        Yeah he’s made his choice; the threat to walk isn’t realistic.

        He could, of course, move laterally to another 2nd tier law school: although his publications are lighter than puff pastry, Illig looks pretty darn competent at the marketing side.

        • Gwen says:

          It’s kinda funny, it’s like he’s still convinced we believe that lawyers are all gonna be rich someday.

          Maybe he honestly believes that, or is in some kind of weird narcissistic la-la land. I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF HOW MONEY I AM.

          • BoredJD says:

            It’s special snowflake syndrome, law professor version. “When I left private practice to become a law professor, I was on the same track to make partner as all the other associates. Ergo I would have made partner just like them. Also, check out this Harvard law prof who was a big firm partner too.”

            Now spot the logical fallacy (hint, there’s more than one).

  13. NewishLawyer says:

    This reminds me of the Chicago professor who wrote about why he and his Doctor wife were middle class at nearly 500K in income. Maybe more than 500K.

    Eugene is much more affordable than Chicago.

  14. Morse Code for J says:

    Using my entrepreneurial, law-trained mind, I believe I have a solution to Prof. Illig’s woes.

    As of a few minutes ago, the domain name owmyprofessorialballs.com is available. Using PayPal, Prof. Illig could webcast himself while being kicked in the junk by a research assistant (paid by the school, so this is pure profit) for $5 per kick, with periodic online auctions for the opportunity to visit the University of Oregon’s campus and personally kick Prof. Illig in the balls. Whatever pittance that he lost to funding graduate fellowships he could make up in a matter of days.

    Okay, probably hours.

  15. HAH says:

    This should be required reading for every would-be Oregon Law student. Hahahaha! WHAT. THE. FUCK.

  16. Tristan says:

    I feel that having given up the chance
    at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students

    This is probably a good quote to side aside and keep for if you find yourself in a dispute with one of those people who contests that ‘privilege’ is more buzzword than useful concept.

    • BoredJD says:

      I mean, Mitt Romney quit an eight-figure job to make nothing AND his wife ran an internationally recognized equine ballet charity. Beat that, Illig.

      • Unemployed Northeastern says:

        Yeah, but as we saw from the one tax return, Mitt still makes $20 million per year in retirement, mostly as the result of proceeds from past funds in which he was a participant. C’mon, between staying in an eight-figure job and retiring while continuing to collect eight-figures, which would you choose?

        • Jon C. says:

          Well, presumably Mitt did have to sell some stock to make ends meet after forgoing his executive position. Yes, it was stock he earned by investing money for his father’s friends, rather than his father’s own shares, but still, it had a lot of sentimental value to him. He probably valued it himself when he put it in his retirement accounts.

          • Unemployed Northeastern says:

            I recall reading, perhaps in Rolling Stone, that some of Bain Capital’s earliest, largest investors were plutocrats from Central America with direct ties to paramilitaries and death squads.

            Anyways, at least Mitt pays it forward. When one of his sons set up his own PE firm – Solamere, I think it is called – one of Mitt’s blind trusts (run by his personal attorney of ~30 years) saw fit to invest $10 million into it. Pretty brazen, given that back when Mitt was running against Ted Kennedy for MA Senate in the 1990s, Mitt went after Kennedy’s blind trusts pretty hard: “a well-known ruse,” I think he called them.

            Oh, and one of Solamere’s first hires was one of Meg Whitman’s (Ebay CEO) sons, who, depending on who you read, was kicked out of four high schools but still managed to get into Princeton the same year Meg donated $30 million to the school. During his time as an undergrad, he mostly made waves for allegedly committing sexual assault(s).

            See, the rich operate under the same rules as the rest of us!

    • rmgosselin says:

      Plus this quote: “My students are my life. I sacrifice for them every day.” Yeesh.

  17. Perplexed says:

    I’m a bit curious as to how Professor Illig was hired in the first place. His first non-student article came out in 2006. He was a visiting prof at UMKC in 2003-04, and he presumably went on the job market in fall 2003 because he was hired as a TT prof for 2004-05. That means that he had precisely zero publications, and probably zero placements as well, when on the market. He went to a non-elite school, and didn’t clerk. His practice experience is decent, but it’s not like he was an M&A lawyer at Wachtel or worked at the SEC.

    I understand that hiring standards were a lot lower in 2003 than now, and it’s harder to hire business law profs, but still. Zero publications, zero placements, non-elite school, no clerkship. Huh? Who did he have photos of?

    • Paul Campos says:

      You’re right, that is a very strange resume for somebody who got hired at a halfway decent law school, even ten years ago.

      Which makes his overwhelming sense of entitlement even more absurd.

      • Perplexed says:

        Per the below post, Paul, what’s your sense of how someone up for tenure at Colorado would fare with his publication record? I.e., 2-3 well placed LR articles, something in a secondary journal at the school, and a couple of placed-but-not-published pieces in trade journals or symposium issues.

        • Paul Campos says:

          These days his publication record would almost be more problematic at the entry level (where it would be considered good but not great for entry-level hire who didn’t meet any of the other traditional hiring criteria) than it would be for tenure.

          In my experience very few schools outside the elite level have a serious tenure review process, because firing people is hard (although this sqeamishness may soon change for obvious reasons).

          • Perplexed says:

            I’m not even sure it would be all that good on the entry level market these days. It’s essentially three “legitimate” publications, two top 100 and one top 50, and two of them are in back-to-back years in the same journal. It that last fact turns out to be less than kosher (i.e., it was one article they split up, or the second article was an invited piece for a symposium or somesuch), then he’s not really going to stand out, especially give the rest of his CV.

    • Perplexed says:

      For that matter, I’m really curious how he got tenure. When he would have been up in late 2008, he had a grand total of three placements in mainline law reviews — and two of those are in back-to-back years the same journal, which is really odd and makes me think that one was a symposium piece or that it was a single article that they had to break up into two parts. He also had a publication in a secondary journal published by Oregon Law, a piece that was probably placed (but not yet published) in a trade journal, a symposium piece in a really obscure secondary journal, and probably a non-law review piece undergoing peer review.

      Folks, that might not be enough to get a tenure track job these days, much less tenure. (Though his 2-3 law review articles were actually pretty well-placed, so that’s debatable.)

  18. HAH says:

    Well, the professor has his Oregon e-mail address prominently displayed on his public CV: rillig@uoregon.edu. Perhaps he could use some perspective…

  19. Whatever says:

    Professor Illig has an important lesson for law school applicants!

    From his writeup at the U of O law school:

    Professor Illig earned his JD from Vanderbilt University, which he attended tuition-free as a John W. Wade Scholar.

    https://law.uoregon.edu/faculty/rillig/

    Remember, kids! If you pay any tuition to go to law school, you are a sucker!

    • Whiskers says:

      I noticed that in his CV and thought he was trying to say he went to Vanderbilt because he got a free ride and could have gone somewhere else. Clearly, the guy is embarrassed about having a very small penis.

  20. toberdog says:

    Anyone else remember the old RunDMC song, “You Be Illig’”?

    (One) day when I was chillin’ in Kentucky Fried Chicken
    Just mindin’ my business, eatin’ food and finger lickin’
    This dude walked in lookin’ strange and kind of funny
    Went up to the front with a menu and his money
    He didn’t walk straight, kind of side to side
    He asked this old lady, “Yo, yo, um…is this Kentucky Fried?”
    The lady said “Yeah”, smiled and he smiled back
    He gave a quarter and his order, small fries, Big Mac!
    You be illin’

  21. N__B says:

    ‘Twas Illig and the slythey toves…

  22. Evan says:

    Wow. Just… wow. I love the idea “I would ABSOLUTELY be making a MILLION dollars!!!” when in fact… no, you wouldn’t. You bailed right when the writing got onto the wall. And you now work 1/8 as many hours. So cut the martyr bullshit.

    This guy is truly unbelievable.

    • Gwen says:

      I would literally kill to be an adjunct… not even tenured, man, an adjunct.

      Hell I’ve even applied to teach business law at community college. I don’t really have much besides a JD to justify getting paid to teach, but then again I have friends with masters degrees who teach US history, so what.

  23. Funkhauser says:

    Hey, he and I have the same number of peer-reviewed publications!

    Are UO salaries publicly collected and available like Univ of California salaries are by the Sac Bee? Gotta see how much I could be making with this shiny new PhD.

    • JustRuss says:

      Yes they are. Not sure if they’re on the Google though, I believe there was recently a kerfuffle over someone trying to access them through an FOIA request. Still they are public record

      I love how he includes the entire UO faculty and staff in his “sacrifice for the students” BS. I work at another Oregon university, and most of us realize how good we have it compared to the screwing our private sector counterparts have taken over the past decade. We’ve had wage freezes before, it sucks but sure beats getting laid off. And most of us are making a fraction of what Illig gets.

      What really chaps me is that some local rightwingers will grab this as proof of how out of touch we public employees are. Thanks, asshole.

  24. Whatever says:

    More wisdom from Prof. Illig:

    But as for the immediate issue, the correct comparator is our competitor schools, not other departments within the UO. If we want to recruit talented legal minds, we need to compete with salaries paid by law firms. And that doesn’t mean we need to be at parity with law firms (again, I would have been earning in excess of $1 million annually).

    He’s really obsessed with that alleged million dollar salary, isn’t he?

    But my larger point is – why attack me and my salary? I’m not the problem. The problem is the paltry sums the state allocates to public education. The problem is the way we allocate money in our society.

    Those damned taxpayers refuse to compensate Professor Illig at the level that he deserves!

    What ingrates!

    • Autonomous Coward says:

      Ok, going to stipulate that this Illig guy sounds like a Grade A, National Register of Historic Schmucks-listed heel.

      But the turn towards law schools (and other high tuition offerings like B-Schools) can’t just be coincident with the slashing of state contributions to public universities and the consequent need for those institutions to seek student loan-financed income, right?

  25. Scott Lemieux says:

    And all of us would be making more money at any of our competitor universities.

    Talk about yer great moments in can opener assumption. Reminds me of the AGI Finance guy who asserted that he was making a noble sacrifice for staying there…

  26. Atrios says:

    I’m probably becoming a bit too fascinated with the LawProf subculture, but do many of them really believe the path they either didn’t take or were forced off of several years ago (BigLaw) is still open to them, that the lucrative partnerships are just there for the taking when they’re ready? It wasn’t true 8 years ago, and it certainly isn’t now.

    • BoredJD says:

      What they believe is that they “would have” made partner had they not had the opportunity to become a law professor waiting for them. Had law professor salaries been lower or teaching loads higher, they would not have left practice, and of course the country would have been deprived of a valuable resource- their scholarship. Apparently the idea of marginal utility doesn’t exist in the law professor hiring market, so if you’re not staffing classrooms with HYS grads who clerked for circuit court judges you’re staffing them with knuckledraggers, or something.

      In order to understand this mentality you have to put it into context. The legal profession, at least in the first few years of practice, takes to an extreme the weight placed on various credentials that have at best tenuous relevance to what’s required to be successful in legal practice at an experienced level. Law professors have largely been successful at acquiring these various status symbols (elite UG, LS, good first year grades, big firm associate, clerk).

      It’s very hard to describe, but I’ve lived it (went to an elite law school). It’s a strange subculture.

      • BoredJD says:

        There’s been a fair amount of commentary on recent years on this phenomenon, not just in the law school sphere. Hiring decisions are now made on a very narrow set of hoops that have been jumped through. It’s an improvement over “here’s our secret WASP handshake” but it fails to account for the accumulation of little breaks and favorable dice rolls that separate out people through their various levels of school. Instead, it breeds this overwhelming sense of superiority that gives rise to comments like this.

        /amateur cultural commentary.

        • Perplexed says:

          Just to add to your cultural commentary, I think this is largely attributable to the failure of traditional signaling mechanism. As more and more people graduate from college, and especially as grade inflation in certain majors means that many of them will have good grades, it becomes less a marker of “intelligence” (however you define it), and employers must resort to second order proxies like “hard” majors, top tier schools, etc.

          In law, you’ve seen that play out. Big firms are becoming too risk adverse to hire anyone except (i) OK-or-better students at the tip top schools, (ii) good students at the rest of the elite schools, or (iii) the best students at the good-but-not-great schools. (I’ve actually had this conversation with a friend on the hiring committee at a V20 firm. They won’t hire from outside the top 30 or so schools because they’ve been burned too many times hiring the valedictorian from the local fourth tier school who turned out to be an idiot.)

          • BoredJD says:

            I honestly wonder how much of that is confirmation bias- assume the fourth tier guy is just a lucky idiot and his fuckups become magnified, while the Penn guy is just having an off day.

        • MacK says:

          And pure luck – being on the right deal with the right bankers at the right time.

      • Tristan says:

        Short version: he would have been a successful partner at his old firm in the same way I would have been a great boyfriend for the girl in 8th grade I couldn’t make eye contact with.

    • Perplexed says:

      In fairness to law professors, I think very few of them were forced off of the biglaw path. Most of those that go biglaw->academia (usually with a stop in a visiting position en route) do so early enough in their careers that they probably wouldn’t have been given The Talk. And even for those (like Illig) that go later — and again, this is relatively few — do so in a way where the timing suggests they left on their own accord. Firms tend to give you The Talk during annual review season in December, and while it’s possible that some would let you stick around for nine months until a visiting job starts, it’s not customary.

      As for whether they think partnership is there for the taking, I think most profs think they WOULD have made partner if they stuck it out (and IME, maybe 20% would have — smart lawyers do have an advantage, but there’s a crapload of other stuff that plays into that). I don’t think many seriously think that they could go back into practice if they wanted to, with the exception of superstars who realize that their name alone has some cache.

      • dollared says:

        Yes.

        Q. Did you have more than $1M in originations in the past 12 months?

        Yes? Welcome to the partnership!
        No? We think you’re a terrific person and an excellent lawyer. Any Fortune 500 company would be lucky to have you as in-house counsel, and think about how that lifestyle would benefit your family. yadda yadda.

        • Perplexed says:

          This really varies firm-to-firm. Many (probably most) of the V20 or so don’t really require a book of self-generated business to make partner. The fact of the matter is that senior associates are usually too busy to develop their own clients, and in any event, the sort of mega-institutional clients that these firms have often aren’t really portable like that. You make partner at these firms by (1) doing great work, (2) doing a lot of it, and (3) becoming familiar to the client so that it trusts you to work on its matters without close supervision. (That said, the ability to move business if you left does have a big impact on partner compensation.)

          Outside of the biggest and most elite firms, business development is a much bigger deal, but $1M is an exaggeration. The standard figure I’ve seen being thrown around is that to make partner, you need to have a book big enough to support yourself. So assuming a junior partner draw of $300K (probably realistic outside of NYC), that means a book in the $500k or so neighborhood.

          • MacK says:

            In M&A you become partner by being absolutely ready to remember who the real client is – not the company paying your bills – the bank that referred them.

    • Paul Campos says:

      Hard to say. I would guess the Illig type is more prone to some weird estoppel mindset, in which the fact that he chose not to become a partner means that it would now be “unfair” to penalize him years later for making that choice.

      This is delusional on several levels, but not quite as crazy as believing that the typical mid-career legal academic could somehow choose to get back into the big law game.

  27. jon says:

    As he leaves office, law school grad and Kenyan Messiah, B Barry Bams, will declare a Jubilee and cancel all student debt, and any bankruptcies related. Problem solved. Set my Grad Students Free!

  28. Sly says:

    Ask not what your university can do for its unemployable graduates, as what unemployable graduates can do for your university!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Forcing richer people to give to poorer people is all well enough until you’re the richer people in that situation. K.

  30. kc says:

    I feel that having given up the chance at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students

    Oh my god.

  31. Whiskers says:

    As others have already said about his assertion that he had a near certainty of making seven figures, no he didn’t. I know Nixon Peabody, I know M&A, I know associates looking to become partner, I know the finances of law firms, etc., and no sir, you did not have a good shot at making a million bucks a year. Not at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      According to American Lawyer, which is usually pretty close, Nixon Peabody’s average profit per equity partner in 2012 was $775,000. That’s not chicken feed, but it does nothing to suggest that an entry-level income partner would make $1 million per year, even if you choose to believe that the Professor chose to leave voluntarily a year or two from making partner.

  32. Jojo says:

    Is it the eclipse that’s bringing out all the law school touts? Or is it the deposit deadline (aka butts in seats day) that has the deans worried?

  33. Este says:

    I’m sure there are worse things than law professors cloaking themselves in righteousness and self-congratulating while passively enabling the defrauding of their students.

    But those worse things are mostly considered felonies or even war crimes.

  34. MPAVictoria says:

    In a (very!) mild defence of this oblivious jerk, no one likes to give up a raise and most people really do thunk they deserve every penny of their pay cheques. I would be annoyed if my employer all of a sudden decided to donate my next raise to the United Way or something. (Though i hope i would be self aware enough not to write the same sort of pompous/thoughtless emails) Which is exactly why government redistribution through taxes is better than private charity.

  35. LeeEsq says:

    WTF is the modern acronym of choice but antiquarian that I am, I prefer the old-fashioned “Oh Dear Lord.”

  36. jbob says:

    Granted, this guy sounds like a total douche. And I 100% agree that law schools, especially those with employment stats as bad as UO’s seem to be, should do a lot more to help their students and grads financially. Especially those going into public interest.

    But why should law schools get to fund these efforts out of faculty salaries rather than those of administrators, or the schools other funds? And if they are going to do it with faculty income, shouldn’t they be more honest about it and simply reduce salaries and give the difference to students/grads? By pressuring faculty to donate the money to the school’s students, the school manages to have it both ways, or all three ways: (1) fund a much needed effort to support students, (2) maintain the charade that it compensates its faculty at a certain level (and that it is not cutting compensation), and (3) take (at least some, I’m sure) credit for providing funds that it has extorted from its faculty.

    Again, I’d be all for doing this openly, as I agree that law profs are over compensated, especially when their students are struggling so much. But isn’t the bigger story the slimy way the school is going about this?

  37. Whiskers says:

    Anyone check out this guy’s picture? I don’t know that he would have become a partner at Nixon, but he’s got a great face for radio.

    Yes, I realize that this sort of comment is immature, but so is saying hey, I could be making a lot more money in some parallel universe, so respect my authoriteh!

  38. Brett Turner says:

    Re the update, Orin Kerr picks a small bone with a relatively minor point in the article, while ignoring the misleading statistics completely.

    • Unemployed Northeastern says:

      VC really has fallen off a cliff since moving to the Bezos Bulletin.

    • some coverage. says:

      Well, Nancy Leong thinks the NYTimes op-ed was thoughtful…

    • alternet says:

      Mmmhmm, me thinks Mr. Kerr is in no position to protest too loudly, given that the prize for #1 worst offender for school-funded-US-News-employment-outcome-padding in 2013 went to his very own, George Washington. 88 graduates in school-funded positions…WOW.

      I ran across an article he wrote, not on VC, some other less well-traveled blog, in which he opined law schools should never seek to go online as an efficiency move, because a really critical aspect of law school is cognizance of the hierarchy: which student is good and which isn’t, and putting that in everyone’s face.

      And if some bookish imp from Yale is not a very good trial attorney…well, who knows. The courts must be wrong.

      Elitist. Out of touch. When has he ever advocated publicly for the students that pay his salary? Never.

      • Unemployed Northeastern says:

        Of all the sillyheads who write for VC, Orin is the most grounded. While not the firebrand that Campos or Tamanaha or others are, I have conversed with Orin on the interwebs and he is well aware of the plight of law students/grads.

      • BoredJD says:

        “I ran across an article he wrote, not on VC, some other less well-traveled blog, in which he opined law schools should never seek to go online as an efficiency move, because a really critical aspect of law school is cognizance of the hierarchy: which student is good and which isn’t, and putting that in everyone’s face.”

        Link? Love to read this. It’s especially relevant in the discussion of law professor subculture going on. An almost slavish, obsessive devotion to the system that just happened to work out so well for them. It’s like a religion.

      • Orin Kerr says:

        I would love to see the link to this alleged Orin Kerr article.

        • Orin Kerr says:

          BTW, in case it’s not obvious, I would like to see a link to this because I don’t recall writing such an article and I disagree with the position it allegedly took. I think a move to more online options is a good idea, in addition to a 2-year JD option. I also favor abolishing the ABA tenure requirements.

        • BoredJD says:

          I feel like I must apologize for thinking you did. It struck me as odd that you’d write something with that kind of thesis, given what I’ve seen you post about legal education in the past.

          But whoever wrote that, if anyone, it would be a very interesting article.

          • Orin Kerr says:

            Thanks, BoredJD.

            BTW, I’m curious of your take on the question of law school funded positions. Every law school knows that law school funded positions are a terrible way to help U.S. News numbers. A school gets much more U.S. News bang for its buck by letting unemployed grads go jobless and instead pumping the millions those programs cost into “merit: scholarship funds to help tweak incoming class LSAT & GPA figures. As a result, most schools have cut back on law school funded positions and instead put the money towards entering-class numbers-tinkering. In GW’s case, the school-funded-positions program has been maintained — despite its very high cost — because the law school made commitments to students that the program would exist when they graduated. The bigwigs at the school feel they cannot break their promise.

            Maybe I’m naive for asking the question, but why is that decision widely considered an outrageous/unethical/scammy thing to do? Are people under the misimpression that schools get a U.S. News advantage from these programs relative to other ways of using funds to help rankings? I’ve had zero role in the decisions about GW’s approach, so I am happy to criticize my school if what it’s doing is wrong. But as between (a) giving lots of money to graduates who can’t find a paying job to help them get experience that can help them get paying employment and avoid a gap in their resume, and (b) giving that money instead to applicants who got one more multiple-choice question correct than other applicants who get nothing, why is (a) considered scammy and (b) considered ethically AOK?

            • Whose money is it anyway? says:

              That’s the best defense? Am I following your logic correctly? Option (a) is no less “scammy” than option (b), therefore (a) isn’t “scammy”? Is that a joke? If it is, we can add it to a long list of jokes. You’re funny, but you’re still not telling the best joke. That distinction belongs to George W. Bush who opined in 2005, in line with a great tradition, ‘if we remove bankruptcy protection, loans will be repaid.’ Did you know that if you make it illegal for doctors to put casts on broken arms, no arms will get broken? That’s a fact.
              Does pursuing option (b) get you featured in Forbes? http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mkl45eikh/8-george-washington-university-law-school/ Does GW quote its merit aid to prospective students with the same gusto as it quotes its “employment” statistics? Indeed, why continue the Rube Goldberg tuition redistribution at all? Why not just cut tuition? What happens to those lucky fellows after one year of GW-sponsored employment? Do they suffer a gap in the resume? Is the choice of funding such graduates for one year arbitrary – not keyed public-relations-salesmanship-puffery goals? (You can’t say FRAUD around here.) Hell, why not fund the employment of 88 graduates for a decade?
              Who is it that provides the funds that GW so generously allocates between (a) and (b)? What’s GW’s revenue source? What’s a Ponzi scheme? To my knowledge, a Ponzi scheme is an arrangement in which the most recent sucker in the door funds the apparent success of suckers more northerly in the pyramid…to keep the suckers coming in the door. Perhaps I’m mistaken in my understanding. I’ll write Madoff. He’s the expert.
              Enjoy your blood money while it lasts.

              • Orin Kerr says:

                GW’s revenue source is its general budget: Instead of paying money for faculty raises, or for a new building, it spends several million dollars each year from the general budget to graduates who have not found paid employment in order to help them.

                Maybe I’m just dense, but exactly why is that “scammy”? I understand that it’s considered scammy to spend money on faculty and new buildings instead of students who can’t find jobs. What I don’t get is why it’s also considered scammy to spend the money on students who can’t find jobs instead of faculty and new buildings.

                • Seriously? says:

                  To quote the President, “let me be clear.” It’s a scam because GW is intentionally masking the non-demand for its graduates in order to induce new-comers, and funding it all off the backs of the next suckers. The selection of that particular type of aid is not arbitrary or kind. Did y’all used to do this? Did you used to, in years past, out of charity and as a matter of principle, employ masses of graduates who couldn’t find jobs? Please. Or, put another way, what makes GW feel free to do all that on the dole?

                  Relatedly, where do you suppose the money in the general fund comes from? Now, to be fair, you’re claiming invincible ignorance as to the economic functioning of the institution that employs you, so have you traced out the source of the monies in the general fund, or not? Are you really claiming that the tuition money from the newest batch of 1L’s isn’t going to fund employment for unemployed, graduated 3L’s? Prove it. Y’all got another revenue-generating enterprise apart from student loans that you aren’t disclosing? Are you slingin’ crack on the side?

                  GW has boosted its class size, raised tuition, and dug deeper into the lower ends of the applicant pool aka reduce selectivity. To me, that doesn’t bespeak solvency or a fat non-student-loan-derived slush fund. If GW is solvent, then it’s just naked, inexcusable profiteering. Here I was thinking that VC bloggers believed in economic civil liberties and wouldn’t approve of a monopolized, cartelized, price-fixed barrier to entry funded off the back of inherently bad public-sector loans and the misery of oh so many. If your general fund has a money tree, why are you taking student loans?

                  76% of 2013 GW grads took an average of $123,693 to attend. If that sounds good at all, it’s probably just because it’s a plastic statistic. That average is the dilution of ultra-wealthy kids versus the average kids…no doubt some percent of the missing 13% are excluded from the category because they took more than the average. Just that 76% amounts to approx. 57 MM dollars for one class of 603. That’s pure insanity. So, GW kicks a few million down to the peons to maintain the peace and its position in the oligopoly? So what. GW must be a value investor like Warren Buffet. He thinks that shit will work too – give ‘em a ‘millionaires rule,’ kick ‘em down a little, and they won’t take a gander at 400 MM in creatively-avoided capital gains. Good PR. Sort of. Until you realize they’re just the worst welfare queens around, and absolutely predatory.

                  Scrubbed of the school-funded employment, GW is employing about 50% of its class, to say nothing of the pay, stability, or quality of the jobs…or whether they fund regular repayment of the debt + the expenses of existing. Worse, that’s been going on for years. So many with the same GW credential are floating around who can’t get absorbed by the job market.

                  If the pay sucks, if the buildings suck, do the right thing and leave. You’re one of the few academics who more than plausibly can survive and thrive in the private sector. So, leave. Don’t take any more of that dirty money. Mentor or employ a few graduates. The ship’s going down anyhow.

                • Orin Kerr says:

                  This is a response to “seriously” below:

                  1) The current program is essentially acting as an insurance policy. If a student doesn’t get a job, she gets a significant chunk of her tuition money refunded back through the program. If I understand you correctly, you want this insurance program to end. That is, you think that students who don’t get jobs should get nothing at all, and that law schools should keep that money for themselves. My question is, why is GW’s program scammy and your view anti-scammy? Why isn’t it the opposite?

                  2) Can you say more about how GW is ‘masking’ its employment numbers? My understanding was that the employment figures now clearly break out school-funded employment as a separate category for all to see. (As well they should: it was obviously problematic that schools used to be able to employ graduates without applicants knowing that this was happening.) Doesn’t that level of transparency cut against the concerns that a school could ‘mask’ its employment figures?

                  Finally, I should point out the obvious that I am writing entirely in my personal capacity, not as a representative of GW. I’m asking these questions because I’m trying to figure out, in my own capacity as a faculty member, what I think the school should do in the future based on what is in the best interests of its students. You obviously think that the school should shut down the program to help its students; I’m just trying to figure out if you’re right.

                • Seriously? says:

                  1) Yes, it’s a fraud. GW chose that peculiar ‘charitable’ course that just happens to provide an inference that a GW law degree migth be worthwhile. It’s not. The price is too high. It’s an insurance policy? In what sense? Is it an insurance policy because you collect a small premium from many people so that rare and unforeseeable losses can be covered in an economically efficient and viable fashion through redistribution? That’s a hoot! 50% of the class being unemployed is not rare or unforeseeable, and only about a third of those unemployed get this “insurance.” You can bullshit all you want, what’s happening is GW is goal-seeking an undifferentiated employment statistic to quote in advertising, inviting reliance. But, if as you say, it’s insurance and redistribution, who’s paying for it? (“It” being $15/hr capped at 35 hrs/week.)

                  Nor, as you suggest, is it in the nature of a rebate when graduates get that “rebate” by laboring for it. All they’ve then done is debt-finance their own “employment” at an economic loss to make GW look better.

                  In a word of nominalism, “insurance” payments because you’re unemployed become employment. Or, is it, in a world of liars?

                  While we’re on the topic of how this is received: when students, parents, and alumni find out about this, they regard it as fraud. So does the press, by the way. So does anyone honest when they take those US News figures and scrub the data for “school-funded” (i.e. student-funded, student-loan- funded) positions.

                  Other less “scammy” things GW might do: drop your class size to 300 if that’s the number of students you can reasonably expect to find jobs upon graduating. GW’s solvent, right? This is all a matter of what an instituion chooses to do in its wisdom and has nothing to do with sloughing off its insolvency on the student and the taxpayer, right? Increasing enrollment, increasing tuition, plummeting admissions standards, IBR – that’s not all a bailout, right? Drop your tuition too. Or, just close your damn doors, because you are not doing a public service.

                  2) Your undifferentiated “employment” statistic is an affirmative, materially misleading and false representation that GW voluntary and intentionally puts in the public domain. As you well know, US News is the single most widely relied upon publication and you give an undifferentiated, inflated statistic. That’s what the kids on twitter are quoting: 85% employed! That’s why it’s gaming US News, and really the youth. Way to go.

                  FAR WORSE, your advertising material to prospective students quotes that complete horseshit too: “GW Law has consistently been one of the top law schools in placing graduates with large law firms and public sector employers. This chart indicates the employment outcomes for 2012 graduates— 95 percent of whom are employed.” Well, now that’s inclusive of 130 school-funded positions in 2012, and GW points that right out. NO, it doesn’t.

                  “Transparency” was forced upon law schools and consists of not having to disclose to prospective students that 509 disclosures exist or what they reveal – or where their tuition really goes. The general public doesn’t know. Most of the general public still thinks lawyers are finding jobs.

                  But, surprise, surprise, the word is getting out. The monopoly rent ceiling got hit a while ago, and now law schools are losing market share hand over fist. But it’s okay, you’re all solvent, right? Soon 10% of your class wont’ have to LSAT. Now you can go find that semi-literate kid from West Baltimore and spin him a yarn. Running out of fungible straws through which to suck public funds pretty fast…

                • Orin Kerr says:

                  “Seriously,” your response suggests that you misunderstand GW’s program. In its current form, every GW Law student who graduates without a job can automatically enter the program and benefit from it. I think the one thing students need to do is find the organization that will let them work there for free while GW funds the position. (If there are any GW students reading and can correct me if I’m wrong, please do.)

                  So what makes GW’s program different from what other schools — and thus is the real subject of the critcism — is that every student who wants the program gets it. At other schools, in contrast, there are only a small number of slots. Few people who want the help can actually get it. That’s why GW’s program is bigger. Every student is automatically eligible for it.

                  The rest of your response suggests that the problem isn’t that GW”s program is scammy: To quote you, the problem is that GW’s program is “regard[ed]” and “perceive[d]” as scammy. If your view is representative, then we have a surprising situation in which the pro-scam interests and anti-scam perceptions are perfectly aligned: Both point to ending such programs. So the key question is whether a person feels that actually helping students in need is more important. No wonder most schools have ended or dramatically cut back their programs.

                  Anyway, thanks for the exchange.

                • seriously? says:

                  Hilarious.

                  All you’ve succeeded in doing is pointing the out the more fundamental and antecedent fraud involved GW’s your “jobs” program, and every single other such program at every other law school taking a similar path.

                  Federal student loans may only be borrowed to pay for certain qualified educational expenses of a degree. Nowhere in the Higher Education Act are students allowed to borrow federal funds to fund “employment” after a degree is conferred – whehter laundered through the festering fraud that is GW Law – or not. Even an opulent building in which classes are held is less of a scam than your “jobs” program.

                  Why did the White House target Public Sector Loan Forgiveness in its most recent budget? Georgetown’s PSLF ponzi scheme fraud.

                  What I think will be interesting is to see how quickly the feds move to prosecute law schools as they start to fail, in order to get a cut of the liquidation and claw back some of the losses you will leave the public and students and families holding.

                  But, since GW is so interested in the financial future of its students and takes an expansive view of what it is allowed to do with federal monies, maybe you should take that “insurance” money and place a bet against SLABs in the CDS market. There’s now a derivitives market sitting on top of federally-backed student loans as well as the private ones. So, the contagion of your various frauds is sure to spread.

                • Orin Kerr says:

                  Can you cite the specific provision of federal law that you think that these programs violate? I don’t know anything about the relevant statutes or regs, so if you could take me through your analysis, that would be helpful.

                • Seriously? says:

                  This may come as a shock to you, but I am not your unpaid intern. Nor would I ever, ever, ever donate work to be “helpful” to satan in preparing his defense.

                  Haven’t got the time to look into it yourself? I’ve got a solution for you:

                  Go apply for a Grad PLUS loan and tell the federal government it is to fund your post-graduation employment at GW Law to avoid a multi-year gap in your resume.

                  Your employment is unrelated to earning a law degree from GW or from any law school. You’re not a student, and you’ve already got a law degree. But, so what? That’s true of your newly minted graduates as well – they’re not students and they’ve already got law degrees.

                  You graduated from a different law school decades ago. So what? Since neither your employment nor your graduates’ employment is for the purpose of earning a GW Law degree, why should it matter where you went to law school or when you graduated?

                  Let me know if you get approved for your loan.

                • Orin Kerr says:

                  My apologies. When you asserted that the programs violated federal law, I assumed you actually knew the relevant law on which you based your conclusion. It seems that I was wrong, and that you are not basing that claim on any prior knowledge.

                • Seriously? says:

                  Yeah. There’s already a suit by the feds (and some novel theories by a state AG) against an undergraduate institution, it’s just that you can do your own research.

                  But, take heart, I’m sure everybody in the law school space is clean as the new driven snow, and generally on the up and up. Plus, it’s not like the feds have a way of bailing you out Monday and suing you for fraud on Tuesday or anything. So I’m sure the mild side-eye that’s been thrown out there so far is nothing.

                  I see enrollments are down again so far. Best of luck!

                • Orin Kerr says:

                  Best of luck to you, too.

    • Orin Kerr says:

      Kerr is a well-known SOB. Either that, or he assumes that everyone reads LGM already and that people don’t read his posts to see a repetition of what others are saying.

  39. mike in dc says:

    I think there needs to be, if it hasn’t been arranged already, a panel debate at the next AALS conference, with Paul, Brian Tamahana, a few shills on the other side, and a sizable invited contingent of unemployed JDs in the audience to ask rather pointed questions. Same thing for the ABA and NALP conventions. I also think there should be a Judiciary Committee hearing on this stuff, and some consideration of proposals for loan debt relief.

  40. Balrog says:

    One reason that Illig may have such a chip on his shoulder is a quirk of the Oregon public pensions system.

    The pension system for Oregon public employees hired prior to 2003 has turned out to be extremely lucrative – professors currently retiring from Oregon public universities are generally getting 90-100% of their final salary as a pension.

    The system was changed in 2003, and pensions will be considerably smaller for professors hired after 2003. If Illig was hired in 2004, he sees colleagues hired just a year or two before he was earning pensions that likely will be worth more than a million dollars more then the pension that he’ll get.

    That is probably an excellent way to breed resentment, and a feeling that you are being oppressed.

    • Balrog says:

      There is a former University of Oregon football coach getting a pension of $41,341.67 – a month.

    • JustRuss says:

      Actually, not quite. The ultra-cushy retirement package ended on Dec. 31 1995. I was hired January 1996, so believe me on this one. It did get downgraded again in 03. Good point about the chip on the shoulder, it’s a bit of a sore subject for me too, but whatcha gonna do. Illig needs to sack up.

  41. Unemployed Northeastern says:

    TaxProf Blog has some editorial-less coverage, but Paul Caron is a signatory to the Coalition of Concerned Colleagues (along with Campos, Tamanaha, Henderson, and Posner) and often posts *perils of law school* articles on his site.

  42. J says:

    When you think of all the people that have had their lives turned upside-down by their decision to attend law schools, it’s pretty miraculous that comments like his (people should “[worry] about what they can personally contribute”). have not initiated acts of physical violence.

  43. Dr innuendo says:

    While reading Prof. Illig’s two email responses regarding the current state of OU’s present financial and educational maladies; are these verbal exchanges among law faculty occurring in other law schools???

  44. MacK says:

    Nancy Leong file ethics complaints against Dybbuk because she found an internet posting by him offensive and improper. This raises a serious question for Nancy Leong and her supporters in this action – Steve Diamond, Brian Leiter and others. If Ms. Leong was as they argue justified in filing an ethics complaints against Dybbuk, are they going to file an ethics complaints against the Chemerinsky/Menkel-Meadow NYT piece? It would seem to me to be a much more serious transgression by self interested parties…..

  45. Fabuleux poste : pérennise dans cette voie

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