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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, December 27, 2014

LSU Law School Offers Buyouts (1 Year's Salary) to Seven Tenured Profs Over 65; Dean Hopes They Will 'Retire With Dignity'

LSU Logo (2015)Baton Rouge Advocate, LSU Law Center Offers Buyouts to 7 Professors as Interest in Law Schools Dwindles Nationally:

LSU’s Law Center is offering an incentive to seven professors if they retire next summer as it looks to cut costs amid a dwindling interest in law schools nationally.

The professors, all older than 65 and tenured faculty members, have until Monday to decide whether they will retire June 30 and get paid a bonus of roughly a year’s salary in return. The total that would be saved if all decide to take the buyout: $1.12 million a year.

“This is really part of a necessary effort to provide additional financial flexibility for the Law Center,” LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss said during a recent LSU Board of Supervisors meeting, at which the plan was unanimously approved. ...

The LSU Law Center’s fall 2014 enrollment is about 570 students — 200 of them in their first year. That’s a slight uptick from the year before, but LSU has seen a significant drop in interest in recent years, reflective of the national trend. It’s down nearly 16 percent from LSU law’s 238 first-year student enrollment in 2011. ...

“It’s critical that we have the flexibility to right-size the faculty of the Law Center,” Weiss said. “The financial cash flow advantage of this plan gives us overall flexibility in terms of our program.” LSU has the option to renege on the offer if fewer than four faculty members choose to participate.

The Law Center has about 45 faculty members, most of them tenure or tenure-track professors. Among the professors who qualify are several well-known names, including former Law Center Chancellor John Costonis and former LSU system general counsel Ray Lamonica.

Weiss said he’s not sure how many will go for the buyout. “Certainly, some will,” he said. He said he sees the incentive program as a way for faculty to “retire with dignity and positive feelings” about the LSU law school. ...

The initial cost of doling out one-time payments to those who choose to take the retirement incentive would be $1.36 million if all seven take the offer. Half of that will be covered with a loan from the flagship’s budget. The plan allows the university to hire some of the retirees back on flexible one-year contracts. Or it could fill jobs with new, cheaper hires.

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Comments

I routinely call for shutting down at least 50 law schools. But, LSU is not one of them. It is a unique resource, because it is one of the few places where the Napoleonic Code and the Civil Law are studied in English, and in detail. In a globalizing world, where most countries are governed by Civil Law, it is very valuable.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Dec 27, 2014 11:10:56 AM

Retire with dignity or what? Sounds like the Chancellor is setting himself up for an age discrimination lawsuit.

Posted by: Bert Lazerow | Dec 27, 2014 5:43:55 PM

I'm obviously not an expert on age discrimination law, but in a moral if not legal sense, this is disgraceful. I certainly learned more in law school from older professors than younger ones. The younger ones were more interested in dating students. Maybe I'm jealous.

Posted by: mike livingston | Dec 28, 2014 5:46:17 AM

My own experience, having matriculated during the height of the law school faculty hiring binge a decade ago, was overwhelmingly that the older professors, who also coincidentally tended to have real substantial practice experience, were much better teachers. They where also better at, and more interested in, being mentors. The youngish, elite law school, prestigious clerkship, 2 years of less or big law professors I had were just downright awful teachers, and in many cases, not good people.

I understand the concept of making room for the younger generation of teachers, but in the law school context, this concept may degrade the quality of the law school experience.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 28, 2014 8:31:20 AM

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not apply to state universities for monetary damages (11th Amendment immunity). Not clear if Louisiana's state law analog allows for monetary damages against a state university.

Posted by: Andy Patterson | Dec 29, 2014 6:14:47 AM