Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 12, 2007

More on Judge and Law Professor Salaries

Following up on this morning's post, How Many Law Professors Make $330k?, Myron Grauer (Capital) notes that Paul Volcker based his claim that "at $165,200, district judge salaries fall more than 50% below what many law school deans or their top professors make" on a similar statement on page 2 of Chief Justice Roberts' 2006 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary (1/1/07).  As it happens, Chief Justice Roberts, in turn, based his statement on the Report of the National Commission on the Public Service, Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century 22-23 (Jan. 2003), chaired by Paul Volcker.

Here is the relevant language from the 2003 Volcker Commission report:

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out in testimony before the Commission that, in 1969, the salaries of district court judges had just been raised to $40,000 while the salary of the dean of Harvard Law School was $33,000 and that of an average senior professor at the school was $28,000.

That relationship has now been erased. A recent study by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts of salaries of professors and deans at the twenty-five law schools ranked highest in the annual U.S. News and World Report survey found that the average salary for deans of those schools was $301,639. The average base salary for full professors at those law schools was $209,571, with summer research and teaching supplements typically ranging between $33,000 and $80,000. Federal district judges currently earn $150,000.

Adjusted for inflation, the $301,639 average dean's salary at the Top 25 law schools would be worth $338,023 in today's dollars, while the $209,571 full professor base salary would be $234,850 which, when combined with the inflation-adjusted summer stipends of  $36,981 - $89,650, would put the total compensation of full professors at Top 25 law schools at $271,831 - $324,500.

Can that possibly be right -- is the range of summer money at Top 25 schools really $36,981 - $89,650?  I hope some faculty at Top 25 schools will enlighten us in the comments.

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At my top 20 school, summer money is around $15k.

Posted by: top20lawprof | Feb 12, 2007 7:44:59 AM

Sorry for barging in, but as a professor at a not-top 20 school who has tried on several occasions to change that, I think that many ranking schools pay less to some of their professors than their less elite competitors. Of course, if the comments are true, it would explain why so many people want to get to these places.

Posted by: Michael A. Livingston | Feb 12, 2007 9:01:07 AM