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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cost of a Law Review Article: $100,000; Student Debt to Pay for it: Priceless

National Law Journal, Legal Scholarship Carries a High Price Tag:

What is the total cost of a law review article written by a tenured professor at a top-flight law school?

It's in the neighborhood of $100,000, according to Hofstra University School of Law professor Richard Neumann. His estimate factors in the salary and benefits for a tenured professor at a high-paying school who spends between 30% and 50% of his or her time on scholarship and publishes one article per year. It also takes into account possible research grants, which many schools offer professors to help fund their scholarly work, and the costs for research assistants.

Neumann delivered that staggering estimate during a panel discussion on leveraging tenured faculty during the Future Ed conference in New York on April 16. ... The focus during the conference was not tenure per se, but rather on how to best use tenured faculty. Neumann made the case that extensive and expensive research does not necessarily benefit the students footing the bill through hefty tuition.

Even articles written by assistant professors at lower-paying law schools come with a price tag between $25,000 and $42,000, he estimated.

Neumann also pointed to research suggesting that 43% of law review articles are never cited by anyone. "At least a third of these things have no value," he said. "Who is paying for that? Students who will graduate with six figures of debt."

That faculty time would be better spent in the classroom, especially since teaching loads have dropped significantly in recent decades, he argued. It's time to break the model of large--and cost effective--lecture classes that subsidize reams of research, Neumann said. And only a faculty with tenure will have the freedom to think creatively about new methods of teaching, he said.

[Loyola-Chicago Dean David] Yellen agreed that the era of supporting both theoretical work and more skills training through tuition increases is over, and that historically low teaching loads were "a bit unfair to our students." However, he argued that law deans would run the risk of losing talented young faculty members if they tried to discourage scholarly research and instead added to their teaching loads. "I'm not looking to change the model or the amount of scholarship, but I do want to pay more attention to the education," he said.

New York Law School Dean Rick Matasar urged legal educators to consider the possibility of new, lower-cost law schools that rely heavily on untenured faculty and adjuncts to teach rather than write law review articles. "Students are saying, ‘I don't want to pay for it anymore,' " he said. "How do we explain how our scholarly mission helps them?"

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Comments

Legal education is so incredibly broken. Please some one disrupt this.

Posted by: Pete | Apr 21, 2011 9:23:43 PM

Wow. If it costs $100,000 for a tenured lawprof to write and publish an article, and 43% of published articles are never cited by anyone, that gives real meaning to the SSRN taxprof article cite statistics posted periodically on this blog.

Posted by: Jake | Apr 21, 2011 10:02:37 PM

Neumann has not published a law review article since 2007, so I guess there must be some professor out there picking up the slack for him so his average of one article a year works out...

Posted by: A. Linger | Apr 22, 2011 9:36:10 AM

This is a typical anti-intellectual rant by someone who simply doesn't understand what academics is about. Of course 90 percent of law review articles don't amount to much. 90 percent of anything doesn't amount to much. But we don't know in advance which 10 percent will matter, and anyone who doesn't get this--who doesn't see that academic work is about taking chances and doing things whose value cannot be recognized in a few weeks, months, or even years--doesn't get the underlying nature of the field and disqualifies themselves from seriously commenting on it.

Posted by: mike livingston | Apr 22, 2011 9:37:43 AM

Shows the often wide gulf between cost and value.

Posted by: Patrick | Apr 22, 2011 10:04:10 AM

Because god forbid that professors (teachers) actually focus on such a dirty and thankless job as teaching.

Posted by: Troy | Apr 22, 2011 10:04:11 AM

@Mike Livingston: You both overstate your point and phrase it as truculently as possible. It's one thing to say that 90% of anything doesn't amount to much (this seems exaggerated, but let that go for the sake of argument). It's another thing to note that, for instance, the median number of citations for a publication in the humanities is 0. Most of what is published in my discipline is worthless, and I think a lot more of my discipline than of most. That's a serious indictment, and your calling a similar point an "anti-intellectual rant" isn't a convincing response, to say the least.

Also, contrary to your assertion, we do know with some confidence which 10% will matter, because it gets published in top-flights journals rather than the ones that exist solely to create tenure cases. This may be different in law, which doesn't have peer review, but that's how it is in the humanities.

Btw, I'm a full professor in a humanities discipline, in a top 10 department. So I think I know quite well "what academics is all about."

Posted by: DJ | Apr 22, 2011 10:33:47 AM

Wow, Mike. If someone disagrees with you then they are disqualified from commenting?

See, part of the problem with universities is such an elitist attitude that separates professors from realities outside of their ivory towers. If I paid someone $100,000 in private business, I would demand a better than ten percent chance that I would get something for it. Taxpayers and students feel the same way.

I suspect that the greaterst problem and reason for the poor results isn't the odds but, rather, laziness among tenured professors.

Posted by: Woody | Apr 22, 2011 10:43:11 AM

Yeah, the next neo-Foucaultian analysis of 9th Circuit antitrust cases from 1995-1998 just might shake up the world.

Posted by: FC | Apr 22, 2011 10:46:56 AM

Not worth it- do these guys ever go to court?? In many cases what you are reading are opinions and fictions not the real facts of the case. In some cases opinions are endless garbage that a more laconic answer would serve the reader well. The law review articles are opinions of opinions. It reminds me of the mutual fund industry that created a fund of funds-what is it? A mutual mund which buys mutual funds. What is in it for the buyer? Double fees!
Hope this is helpful.

Posted by: Nick Paleveda MBA J.D. LL.M, Adjunct Professor, Graduate Tax Program, Northeastern University, Boston. | Apr 22, 2011 10:52:50 AM

Interesting. What do you think it would cost to actually train law students to practice law? As opposed to what all top-flight law schools and most of the rest are doing--producing would-be baby law professors.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 22, 2011 10:57:16 AM

I think it's a complicated issue, but at least two things to add to the discussion: 1) does the pressure to publish for the sake of publishing mean that more and more articles are on obscure issues in the law that are irrelevant to most? Or has it always been the case that law review articles go largely uncited? 2) I've always thought it ironic that the profs who seem to "teach" the most intensively and put the most into their ever-evolving courses - the clinical profs and the writing profs - are the ones who don't get any time off to write, or research, yet they seem to be the ones who stay on top of the state of the profession.

Posted by: LLM | Apr 22, 2011 11:05:25 AM

Any person who states that another person who disagrees with them is ineligible to be taken seriously because they disagree with them is disqualified to be taken seriously (and is probably an academic and/or a racist).

Posted by: q12345q6789 | Apr 22, 2011 11:33:34 AM

Neumann may or may not have published any law review articles since 2007--I didn't check--but he has published two or three textbooks that are extremely valuable for teaching in law school. The value of law review articles is minimal except to those who write them. They are an interesting intellectual exercise, but so are crossword puzzles. I value the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. I also know that law review articles aren't increasing human knowledge. Better that law professors spend their time helping students become good lawyers.

Posted by: lawprof | Apr 22, 2011 11:42:37 AM

Lots of research, including in hard science, goes nowhere. If you aren't willing to fund research and take risks, you will never get the top research that does have a huge, positive impact on society. It's called "portfolio investing."

Law review articles have led to the creation of major government agencies. They've influenced supreme court decisions. They've influenced legislation.

Get rid of unbiased research by tenured faculty, and all that will be left is propaganda coming out of "think tanks".

The fact that students don't get any direct benefit is exactly the point. If research only happened when it directly benefited whoever paid for it, there would not be any research, there would only be advocacy.

Students do, however, get huge indirect benefits. Students who work as research assistants learn more and get better training than their peers, and have a huge leg up when they start work.

And all students benefit because the caliber of people willing to work in academe is higher because of the opportunity to do research.

If you get rid of research and turn law schools into lawyer factories, you'll have the same kind of people teaching at law schools who work in Human Resources at big companies. That is, the bottom of the barrel.

Posted by: reality bites | Apr 22, 2011 12:46:43 PM

No real news here. Law schools do not add value to the outside world, indeed they are value destruction machines: "Schools for Misrule". They can, and should be, replaced by 2 year programs at community colleges taught by part-time nontenured practitioners, kind of like HVAC and diesel mechanics.

The "scholarship" produced by the tenured, and tenure seeking, faculty of the law schools is baffle-gab for a coterie of the other members of their tribes. None of it is of any use to normal human being or to practicing lawyers. $100,000? Who cares, if the only cost were postage it would still not be worthwhile.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Apr 22, 2011 1:38:10 PM

reality bites: "Law review articles have led to the creation of major government agencies."

The best reason to end law review articles.

Posted by: Woody | Apr 22, 2011 2:18:00 PM

Regarding the comment above "he has published two or three textbooks that are extremely valuable," I could be wrong, but I beleive those were written on his own time and he was compensated for them outside of his school salary. Spending his time doing that instead of academic research and publishing as a professor is not the point of this article. It is addressing what he is paid by his school to do as a professor, and the value of what he is paid by his school to do as a professor that benefits -- or does not benefit -- the students who are footing the bill.

Posted by: lawp | Apr 24, 2011 2:15:54 PM