Home / General / John O’Brien and the law school scam Hall of Fame

John O’Brien and the law school scam Hall of Fame


I think this is what you call a first-ballot candidate:

During his long tenure at New England Law, John F. O’Brien has been among the highest paid law school deans in the country. When he turns over leadership of the school later this year to former Republican senator Scott Brown, O’Brien will also walk away with one of the most generous retirements in academia, worth at least $5.3 million. . . .

O’Brien, 69, who has been dean of the Boston law school since 1988, is on target to receive an exit package more commonly negotiated by the presidents of top-tier private colleges or complex flagship state universities — rather than the head administrator of a 700-student law school with a local reputation and middling rankings, [“Middling” is grading on a Harvard College curve. NEL has never been ranked at all] experts said.

O’Brien’s retirement package, which includes more than $4 million in deferred compensation and $1.3 million for unused sabbaticals, was reported in the school’s most recent nonprofit filings and was awarded even as New England Law has faced multiple years of operating deficits, anemic returns on its endowment, and falling enrollment.

Does anybody even care?

Oh yeah, me:

Considering New England Law’s finances and rankings, O’Brien’s retirement is hard to justify, said Paul Campos, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, who has written about the economics of law school and has been a critic of O’Brien’s previous compensation package.

“This is completely outrageous on every level,” Campos said. “What is the justification for giving him all this money?”

And the answer to that question is . . .

His retirement package also contains several unusual elements, according to compensation experts.

Before 2017, the law school had set aside at the most $26,500 annually for O’Brien’s deferred compensation plan, according to its tax filings.

But as his retirement neared, it appears from the school’s public filings that the trustees increased his annual deferred compensation allotment to $38,002, as long as he stayed on until 2020 and fulfilled other requirements. The school also adjusted the deferred compensation plan so that the higher annual allotment would stretch back to his entire tenure as dean and assumed that the sum had been increasing by 6.5 percent annually, according to the filings.


Remember, the “rationale” for this kind of thing is that you have to pay your Top Administrator enormous amounts of deferred compensation so he won’t run off and become president of Yale or a hedge fund or something. So what exactly is the justification for doing this retroactively, after he decided to stay loyal for all those years to his $867,000 per year job running a law school that he managed to drive to the very edge of insolvency, even after firing a good portion of the senior tenured faculty, in order to protect his massive pay package?

Something something the Market something.

Needless to say, Trump lickspittle Scott Brown extraordinaire is superbly qualified to take over this particular racket.

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