Paul L. Caron

Friday, January 22, 2016

Muller:  Law Schools Have Added Administrators (+16%) While Shedding Full-Time Faculty (-14%)

Following up on my previous post, Law Schools Have Shed 1,206 Full-Time Faculty Since 2010:  Derek Muller (Pepperdine), As Full-Time Law Faculty Numbers Shrink, Law School Administrator Numbers Grow:


Averaged out, the typical law school has lost about five faculty in the last four years, but the typical law school has also gained a teaching administrator or two in that same period.

Legal Education | Permalink



You are dangerously close to discovering the scam. Ask the next few questions, and you'll be there.

"Unfortunately, no one can be told what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."

Posted by: Jojo | Jan 23, 2016 5:49:55 AM

I suspect that some of these numbers partially reflect the change in the ABA's reporting methodology in 2014, the year that the numbers really shifted. How much, I don't know.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jan 22, 2016 8:07:22 PM

What is truly frustrating is to challenge the administration on this. You can pull up year by year faculty / staff directories and show shrinking full time faculty and growing numbers of staff. You can pull budget data showing line item increases for administrators, staff, and non-tenure system faculty and decreases for tenure system faculty. You can show that faculty attempts to acquiesce to no raises and reductions in benefits and salary in order to hold the line on student tuition increases (yes, some faculty actually do care about that) have been nullified because the administration simply used the savings to hire more administrators and staff. At every level you get stonewalled, or the administration simply answers with the equivalent of "who are you going to believe? Me or your own lying eyes?"

Posted by: Dan | Jan 22, 2016 1:44:57 PM

Just to supplement the earlier response about what these numbers do and do not show:

If I recall correctly, the ABA reporting requirements prohibit double-counting people. Thus, an existing faculty member who takes on sufficient administrative responsibilities to be required to be counted under this category not only *is" counted under the "administrators" category, but is *not* to be counted under the other faculty categories. Thus, if you don't read this correctly (i.e., interpreting it according to the ABA's actual instructions), the number of administrators falsely appears to go up, *and* the number of full time faculty falsely appears to go down by a proportionate amount.

It would be helpful if people actually stop to figure out whether these numbers support the inferences they wish to draw rather than just assuming they reinforce what they want to believe.

Posted by: anon | Jan 22, 2016 10:36:28 AM

From @Profsocialchang's ssrn link above:

"As neoliberal ideology envelops university campuses, the idea of law professors as learned academicians and advisors to students as citizens in training, has given way to the concept of professors as brokers of marketable skills with students as consumers. In a legal setting, this concept pushes law students to view their education not as a means to contribute to society and the professional field, but rather as a means to make money."

Yes, it's not as if law schools played a role in all of this by 1) purporting to be professional schools instead of graduate humanities programs in law, 2) by promoting grossly inflated salary information for years and years, and 3) by pushing tuition to shocking levels without regard for how it will be paid back.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 22, 2016 9:37:05 AM

How realistic is it to expect research faculty to actually do a better job administering the modern law school/university than a professional staff? I'm not so sure that we would want professors to be as involved with making the ship run as they seem to have been 30 years ago. Why would we think they would do a better job?

Posted by: Jason Yackee | Jan 22, 2016 9:02:27 AM

As I predicted on Muller's blog, this has fed into the "bloated administrations/corporatization" of the university narrative. As explained in the comments over there, that overarching narrative may or may not be true, but these numbers simply do not support it for the reasons noted in the comments to that posting. Inter alia:

"Administrators who teach also include any faculty who have a reduced teaching load due to administrative responsibilities,such as deans and vice deans. So it seems unlikely that you can read much about increase or decrease in administrators into that number."


"The ABA numbers measure only administrators who teach. It doesn't necessarily mean that the administration has increased headcount. Instead, it may be that administrators with law degrees may be getting tapped to teach in addition to their admin duties."


"he nature of the category is such that it's not necessarily (or even likely) to represent a 16% increase in new/additional human beings serving as administrators or librarians. If a faculty member previously teaching 4 courses per year with no administrative responsibilities is switched to holding administrative responsibilities plus two classes per year, s/he would appear as a "new" person in this category on the school's ABA report."

Posted by: anon | Jan 22, 2016 8:25:43 AM

"In the past decade, the number of administrative employees jumped 54 percent, almost eight times the growth of tenured and tenure-track faculty. Purdue has a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, including a $198,000 chief diversity officer. It employs 16 deans and 11 vice presidents, among them a $253,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief....U.S. universities employed more than 230,000 administrators in 2009, up 60 percent from 1993, or 10 times the rate of growth of the tenured faculty, those with permanent positions and job security, according to U.S. Education Department data."

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 22, 2016 8:10:31 AM

See "The Challenges of Legal Education in the Neoliberal University," for some perspective on this.

Posted by: @Profsocialchang | Jan 22, 2016 7:36:55 AM

This isn't just law school, it is all of higher education. The famous Instapundit writes on this subject frequently. Faculty levels have barely risen since the 1970s, but administration is up several multiples. Some of it is due to the need to comply with ever-expanding governmental regulations and the paperwork they generate. A lot of it is the explosion of Vice Provosts for diversity and inclusion, and assistant junior vice provosts for student life, etc. I would venture you could trim at the minimum 1/4 to 1/3 of the administration at every university and they wouldn't even notice an impact on their core functions.

Posted by: Todd | Jan 22, 2016 7:31:24 AM

Very odd. When business is down at the casino, you lay off card dealers, but you don't hire more pit bosses. This decision ultimately will hurt the bottom line, unless the new hires are in career services and bar prep.

Posted by: Jojo | Jan 22, 2016 4:38:58 AM