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Law school fires (or otherwise terminates with extreme prejudice) nearly 60% of its faculty

[ 21 ] December 13, 2014 |

terminate

Long-time LGM readers may remember the Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School from such posts as “Change the Name if the Product’s Weak,” “If Your Lies Are Really Egregious They Don’t Count as Fraud,” and “SLAPP Suits As Experiential Learning.”

Because certain irresponsible critics have been spreading what WMUTMCLS’s Dean and President for Life Don LeDuc has characterized as the “myth” that it has become difficult for graduates of low-ranked law schools to get jobs as lawyers, the school’s federal student loan conduits enrollment has declined from just under 4,000 JD students four years ago to 1,754 this fall. This led WMUTMCLS to announce in August that it was laying off some faculty, although as is the way of such things, the school was very vague regarding how extensive these layoffs would be.

“The process is not complete. I don’t have numbers for you,” Robb told the Lansing City Pulse last Thursday. “And I don’t know that we will release numbers, frankly.”

One source told the Lansing City Pulse that layoffs could be higher than 50 percent. Asked about the number, Robb told the publication, “I think you’re hearing wrong.”

This week’s publication of ABA 509 disclosure forms answers the question that Cooley wouldn’t.

Full Time Faculty:

Spring 2011: 101

Fall 2011: 106

Spring 2012: 110

Fall 2012: 103

Spring 2013: 117

Fall 2013: 115

Spring 2014: 119

Fall 2014: 49

Holy new gilded age Batman. (Among other things these numbers illustrate how LeDuc and Co. seemed to have made the mistake of believing their own propaganda about how prosperity was just around the corner, as the school increased the size of its faculty even after its applicant pool collapsed.)

I guess firing 70 of your 119 full-time faculty in one fell swoop in the kind of gust of creative destruction that’s necessary to protect those precious non-profit margins, that allowed the school to pay President for Life LeDuc $675,626 last year, and kicking $373,550 to the school’s founder Thomas Brennan, for what the school estimated to be five hours of “work” per week, while still maintaining a net surplus of $2.5 million in revenues over expenses. (Additionally I’ve been told — although I will hasten to add before I get served again that I don’t know whether this is actually the case — that WMUTMCLS is a veritable hive of nepotism for the relatives of the school’s powers that be, comparable in this and in no other regard, to a classic Francis Ford Coppola film).

I can’t remember at the moment if I’ve already written about the possibility that law schools will use the genuine need for significant financial restructuring as an excuse to “down-size,” in the all-too-common sense of getting rid of people in reverse proportion to both the magnitude of their salaries and the extent to which they do any useful work.

And sure enough, when we look at the category “Deans, librarians and others who teach” (this doesn’t include adjuncts, who are by definition part-time) we find:

Spring 2011: 25

Fall 2011: 26

Spring 2012: 31

Fall 2012: 28

Spring 2013: 26

Fall 2013: 27

Spring 2014: 24

Fall 2014: 26

This principle explains why staff are always fired before faculty, junior faculty are always fired before their senior colleagues, and why the most useless and highly paid administrators will, along with other remarkably adaptive species, inherit the post-apocalyptic earth.

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  • divadab

    “This principle explains why staff are always fired before faculty, junior faculty are always fired before their senior colleagues, and why the most useless and highly paid administrators will, along with other remarkably adaptive species, inherit the post-apocalyptic earth”

    It’s the corporatist approach – which has been applied to all institutions, including academe, and even not-for-profit healthcare run by “religious” organizations. Where I live, the local hospital monopoly, run by a church, fired 58 medical transcriptionists and moved their work offshore to save $5 per hour. The CEO makes $3 million per year.

  • Nadabupkis

    The American Association of University Professors has published a nice graph[pdf, aaup.org] that fits in with the theme of this post.

    • Nobdy

      How is anyone supposed to get a decent education if there isn’t a vice dean of student affairs around to propose and implement pointless initiatives that pay famous people to give dreadfully boring speeches to a small group of students once in awhile?

      • Nadabupkis

        Yeah, it’s currently only a 369% increase in “full-time faculty professional.” Let’s go for 500%.

        There is one, yes one university in the entire land that has reduced the number of such positions. Iowa State. They have hired more teachers, reduced administrative positions, and lowered tuition. One could argue that it’s a model for how to run a university.

        • MAJeff

          There is one, yes one university in the entire land that has reduced the number of such positions. Iowa State. They have hired more teachers, reduced administrative positions, and lowered tuition. One could argue that it’s a model for how to run a university.

          One of the few times I get to actually say, “I’m proud of what my alma mater is doing.”

  • Another example would be the proliferation of charter schools and “small schools of choice” clearly designed to up the ratio of principals to teachers because a nation really has to stand by its principals.

  • ScarsdaleVibe

    While I have sympathy for anyone who loses their job, I do have very mixed feelings. If you’re faculty at a school like Cooley, you’re complicit in the law school scam.

    I do agree with what, for example, divadab is saying. I am thrilled that a place like Cooley is shrinking in size, just not the way the shrinking has been orchestrated. If I had my way, most law schools would be shuttered. We could be just fine with half the number there are now. Hell, a third.

  • Mike G

    We’re going through this corporatization disease at my college IT department. A “reorganization” was a Shock Doctrine excuse to lard-up with useless new management positions and layers of management and suffocating bureaucracy while shrinking the number of front-line people doing actual work for customers. The kicker is a forced move from a building where most people had the same-sized private offices to a remote windowless warehouse where only managers have offices and everyone else is crammed into cubicles. Morale is down the drain.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      You forgot to include the obligatory “I, for one, welcome our new pointy-haired overlords”

  • Unemployed_Northeastern

    Irony: Above this story, there is an ad for the unaccredited Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. “No LSAT Required!” You’d still be better off just getting another high school degree from the very august prep school up the street…

    • efgoldman

      You’d still be better off just getting another high school degree from the very august prep school up the street…

      If you could get in. I believe the admission standards for the prep are significantly higher.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        That’s very true.

  • Orin Kerr

    Another way to see the cuts is to compare the faculty directory today and last year.

  • stryx

    …classic Francis Ford Coppola film.

    I’m struggling to see which one you mean.

    Patton? Gatsby? Apocalypse Now?

    Rumble Fish? Cotton Club?

    Which one could you possibly mean?

    “We’re not going to just shoot fire the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks Eames Lounge Chair.”

    It has to be Patton.

  • Jerry Ziesmer. What a strange way into filmic immortality.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      What I find most strange is that he’s somehow never actually been lead director for a film. Given 45 assistant director credits that include some very well-regarded movies, you’d think someone surely has offered him a lead director position at some point. If not, why not? If so, then why would he turn it down? Because I’d have to think anyone who’s worked as an assistant director for 30 years would surely have some ideas for the way things “should” be done.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Headed the DGA, yet never was a lead director?

        Seems his colleagues thought highly of him.

        Sounds like a mensch from his bio…

  • OhioDocReviewer

    “No wonder Campos put a weed up the legal academy’s ass. The scam was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away.”

    “Oh man…the bullshit piled up so fast in the law school scam, you needed wings to stay above it.”

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