Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

American Bar Foundation: Tenured Law Faculty Salaries, Job Satisfaction

The American Bar Foundation has published After Tenure: Post-Tenure Law Professors in the United States:

The After Tenure Study, jointly funded by the ABF and LSAC, is the first in-depth examination of the lives of post-tenure law professors in the United States. It combines a national survey of post-tenure law professors in the U.S. (undertaken in 2005-2006) with a set of follow-up interviews (conducted with a subset of the survey respondents in 2007-2008). A total of 1175 professors responded to the initial survey; their responses provide the basis of this Project Report, which contains descriptive statistics from our first quantitative analyses. Future reports and articles will provide further quantitative and qualitative results.

Tenured law professors report median salaries of $100,000 to $175,000, depending on their seniority:


Tenured law professors report a high level of job satisfaction, with 81% reporting that the job is "exactly" or "pretty much" the job they had envisioned:


Hat Tip: Legal Scholarship Blog.)

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As Monty Python might say, It's a man's life in the AALS.

Posted by: FC | Aug 9, 2011 10:49:12 PM

Very high job satisfaction indeed, I suppose making a large salary thanks to the US taxpayer (through loans for student tuition) who on average makes less than half the professors' salary, while at the same time sending out many, many indebted graduates who haven't learned a thing about the actual practice of law doesn't weigh on their conscience enough to make a dent in their job satisfaction.

Posted by: Emeritus | Aug 9, 2011 7:21:02 PM

I make a lot more than these guys, but I'd trade places in a second for a job where I couldn't be fired and don't have to look over my shoulder daily to see who might be likely to sue me. With a guaranteed pension.

Posted by: teapartydoc | Aug 9, 2011 6:57:39 PM

does "salary" include other types of income? (e.g., expert witness, law practice, publishing, etc.)

Posted by: lawyer | Aug 9, 2011 5:32:15 PM

While the poster above is correct in his statement that law profs make less than first year big law in a large market. It is however very disingenuous to fail to mention that law professors do not work anywhere near big law hours, they keep their jobs no matter what despite that fact that they don't even do them well (train lawyers), largely do what they want when that want and most of what they do is produce self-aggrandizing filth which is generally read by no more than a few dozen people before being archived. (Most of these people are law students who are required to read it) Law professors (and I say this as a liberal) are about as productive as public union employees.

Posted by: Chris | Aug 9, 2011 5:29:32 PM

Interesting to note that even toward the upper end, a tenured law professor likely makes less than the typical $160K first year biglaw associate (who has the potential to make even more with bonuses and lockstep raises). I would also note against the inevitable diatribe of scamblogger haterade that a tenured position is probably as hard to get as a federal circuit court clerkship, so it's not like every non-practicing egghead JD gets one.

Posted by: WL | Aug 9, 2011 2:39:55 PM

Shouldn't there be a "Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns" disclaimer? :-)

Posted by: SomeFool | Aug 9, 2011 12:22:17 PM