Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The $100,000+ Law Review Article

As Law Profs nationwide gear up to write law review articles over the summer,Larry Cunningham (George Washington) calculates the economic value of the articles:

What’s the economic value of that scholarly article many law professors will write this summer? For the many schools that award scholars summer research grants, it is at least the value of that allocated to the piece—usually $12,500 to $20,000 at most US law schools.

But an excellent article well-placed also often translates into annual salary increments above a school’s merit pay raise pool. That can bump a raise up anywhere from 1% to 3%, or more, depending on the article and how one’s home-school peers do.

For a mid-career scholar earning a base salary of $200,000, say, that means as much as $6,000 or more. For that person, adding $6,000 a year for life, the article’s economic value gets well into the six figures (even discounting to present value).

For others, true, the payoff is less—but still considerable. Take a more senior professor earning $250,000 with only 10 years of teaching left. The increment adds some $60,000 in present economic value.  Even an entry-level professor at the other end of the earnings spectrum, making $100,000, say, and getting even only a 2% bump, enjoys lifetime payoff about half that.

And that’s not all on the economic front. Add to that the value that may arise from influential articles that lead to lateral recruiting offers at higher pay or that induce one’s home school to outbid competing schools seeking to move them. Incremental annual differences in those settings can be tens of thousands of dollars, translating into many multiples of that, lifetime.

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Hey, with those salaries, I should have stuck with academics. When I attend CPE seminars and see examples of "typical salaries," I used to wonder what was wrong with me, until I knew that they were lying about what they charged and made. The next time that I do a presentation, I'm going to use a "typical salary" for a small firm CPA as $300,000 and watch the reactions.

Posted by: Woody | May 26, 2010 11:12:43 AM

Those salaries may be paid at top-ranked schools, but rest assured, those of us in "normal" institutionsdon't make that much. Don't resign your day job!

Posted by: Karla | May 26, 2010 1:15:39 PM

I think it's pretty basic that the value of intellectual property is not fully captured by its original creator; that is indeed the case for copyright protection as well as subsidies to universities, etc. I assume Prof. Cunningham knows this and is talking only about the (rather less significant) profit to the author of the article. If not, a bit frightening.

Posted by: mike livingston | May 26, 2010 2:20:46 PM