Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dale Carnegie and Me

I had a beer in the early 50's with Dale Carnegie. Well not exactly. I did listen to a Teaching Company tape on American best sellers and one of the lectures was on the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It's possible the lecturer read the book so it's the same thing without the beer  and without Dale. Warn water  was what Dale actually had.  As I recall,  he dipped a tea bag in it for just an instant.

I seems that Dale was all about getting your way by getting people to like you. I guess I wish we had spoken to each other before starting this blog but that is a different matter.

As I listened to Dale or  to the person on the tape who had probably read the book or who I just liked ( because he had Carnegie-likeablity) so much I did not care if he had or not, I thought about-- what else -- my job and the folks who are successful, particularly in administration. I don't mean actual successful administrators but people who move up in the administrative ranks.

Here are some of the best things I learned from Dale:“You can't win an argument. You can't because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it.” [I do not think he had lawyers in mind.]  Wow is that ever true. Did you ever know a "successful" administrator who argued. It would not matter about what or which side. If you want to be an administrator, do not disagree with anyone openly because eventually that person will be called about you. Of course, Dale was mainly interested in sales and law school administrators . . . oh, that is sales too.

Dale also said,“I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument— and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes.” Did I mention Dale tended to repeat himself. Maybe it was the tea, Maybe it was the tea.

I think the most important thing he said was "A barber lathers a man before he shaves him.” Did I say "most important? Well yes I did. If you have short term memory issue just look up one line. I think I meant to write "most unnerving."

I realized that Dean's must have read Dale's best seller and learned from it. Of course, they also benefited from the Peter Principle but the PP alone won't do it. For the PP to work, you have to be liked. People have to buy what you are selling. The PP and making yourself liked are all it takes.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


If all goes as planned, on July 1, the ninth dean of my law school teaching career will start her tenure. I don't think it is right to talk about people behind their backs so here are the names of those former deans:

1. Champagne Man
2. Smooth Operator
3. Pippy
4. Graham Cracker Lindsay
5. Little Ricky
6. Publicity Hound
7. The Can Kicker
8. Grumpus
(Number 9's name at this point is Hope.)

Only two of them were God awful. One handed out semesters off on the basis of standards that were never clear. Another was the king of side deals so much so that if you had only one side deal you were being screwed. Those two had in common a dislike for transparency and straight talk.  I suspect that there were issues of transparency with respect to all  of them but the lack of transparency was so complete that you could not even see the smoke screens. I would love to see all but the last one in the ring for an all out Texas Grudge Match.

Starting with Pippy they were mostly a jumpy lot and good examples of the Peter principle. By jumpy, I mean a really big consideration was "but what will the faculty think." That is an important consideration but at least 4 of them would have asked that before rescuing a drowning puppy.

The odd thing is that I cannot think of one of them, even the awful ones, who did not seem like a decent person. Outside of the law school environment I shared some laughs with almost all of them. Thus, I wonder if there is something inherently corrupting about being a law school dean. A good friend of mine believes that is the case. At some point even the best intentions with respect to fairness and transparency seem to fade. Put differently and more harshly, they sell out. If they had the best intentions with respect to fairness and transparency they cave in. They usually cave in to faculty demands some of the most outrageous of which will be the subject of my next blog.

Since I have only taught at two schools I do not want to generalize but maybe, rather than being flawed, deans mirror their faculties. Take the same deans, make him or her dean at a law school, if there is one, in which the crowd (to use a term another colleague used to describe the one at Uf) is not as "rough" and most of those former deans might have "different" deans.

This is a fairly tenuous theory but could it be that deans, whoever they are, are ultimately faculty mirrors. In the case of my law school, the nature of the deans changed at a point when the faculty took a turn to the nasty side. It's pretty clear that no law school can become better if the dean is simply a mirror of the faculty.

The kicker is this. If deans begin to mirror their faculties and the deans fall out of favor, isn't it really an exercise in faculty self-hatred.

Here's hoping our new dean does not become the faculty, that side deals are over, transparency restored, and that those who object move out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wasteland in the Law School Industry

Several years ago I wrote an article equating law schools to a form of regulatory capture. As in the case of a captured regulated utility, law schools seemed to be run for the benefit of the faculty -- those supposedly regulated. Think of it having shareholders stilling on a panel deciding whether the utility in which they own shares should be permitted to raise rates. It's not quite that bad of course. Ultimately someone else holds the purse strings. But the day to day use of those funds is clearly faculty not student oriented although sometimes those intersect.

I'm sure others disagree and I hope they are right -- law professors  just want what is best for the students even if it means working longer hours, taking a hit as far as teaching evaluations, giving up some pet project to pitch in for the benefit of the school, and not spending hundreds of thousands confercating.  [OK,  enough of that.]

One thing, though, that seems completely out of wack is the massive advertising budgets found at public law schools. I know some of this is for fundraising but much of it seems to be designed to make the schools seem more attractive to applicants. Some of it makes lawyer advertising look dignified by comparison.  So money is spent to find people to accept a school's subsidy. Huh!  Or students are actually paid to go to one school as opposed to another.

That seems crazy to me but lets suppose the competing schools are both state schools in the same state. In my state, the chief public law schools are UF and FSU. Other states have the same set up -- Arizona for one. It may make sense to have to have more than one  state law school in a state as large as Florida although locating them as far away as possible from where students  live and have always lived seems odd.

But now look where we are. FSU and UF draw mainly from the same pool of in-state students. Probably FIU should be in the mix as well.   I would bet that the quality of education from all three schools is equal. So whichever one the student chooses, he or she will leave in three years with the same thing. Yet, all schools spend zillions on attracting students with glossy publications, orientation programs, accepted student days, follow up phone calls and, in some cases, straight up payments.

Obviously all the money spent has nothing to do with students.  Instead about the institutions as ends. Who benefits from the spending -- not the students, not their clients, not the taxpayers. What a waste.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Pet Rocks: James and the Giant Weed Machine [embedded trivia question]

Within minutes of posting yesterday's piece making a wee bit of fun of the idea of having a program called "Law and Mindfulness," I was told that  such  a program does exist. I thought immediately of the Pet Rock or, more precisely, is this another law school marketing gimmick, a  fad, or is it something else.

First, though, this is not a rant against mindfulness although I am happy to find no one still claiming it has any connection to the ideals of Buddhistism. After all, mindfulness, as it is currently marketed, is as useful to a monk as it might be to the most materialistic money grabber or serial killer. In fact, it is the emptiness of a moral component that puts me off but that is another matter. At least an honest economist will concede the same emptiness. In fact, mindfulness and economics are made for each other -- efficiency is the goal.

Mindfulness is taught at my law school but we do not have a Center, at least at this point. But here is what I do not get. If mindfulness is good for you in terms of everything from killing on the battle field to tending to the poor, why is it part of a law school as opposed to a core course for all  students. I mean, everyone wants to do whatever they do better.  Right ?! Of course, they do!

But there are many things that can help you do whatever you do better. Perhaps, for example, a little weed "for your personal use" [imbedded trivial question] would relax you and make you more effective. I don't see any weed machines but they are much more effective than comfort dogs which we do have. How about a good night's sleep, good nutrition, exercising,

Nevertheless, if law schools are now in the business of replacing the self help magazine aisle at the local bookstore I have a few suggestions:

1. Install Weed dispensers.
2. Install sleep pods and have someone lecture on how to sleep well or, in the near future, develop a Center for Law and Sleep.
3. Basic Nutrition 101.
4. Exercise for Law Students 101
5. Proper Pet Care for Law Students 101

 I imagine a perfect law school Center with the label "YOU." Students who complete 15 hours in YOU courses get a certificate. They can then join that with 6 hours outside the law school, 6 hours of independent study, and 12 hours of pass/fail courses, and 34 hours of externships for which they are not paid but the school is (go figure).

Intimate fantasies: a four act play (and coda)

Intimate fantasies: a four act play


Dean DeSpenser: Reginald Yu
Professor Been Madov: Clifford Irving
Professor Prince Towne: Jake Oz
Professor Kennedy Armstrong: j.j. Getty
Professor Ann Colt45: Fawn Hall

In tonight's performance the role of Professor Prince Town will be played by Hank Hu.. Mr. Oz was called away to a conference in Costa Rica with the highest level people.

All scenes take place in a well furnished office at a moderate sized law school. The plaque on the Door says "Dean DeSpenser." Each scene begins with a knock on the door.

Act 1

The Dean: Yes. Come in.
Professor Colt45; Hi Dean, I see you are busy as usual. I was just telling everyone in the Lounge that you were once almost cited by the Supreme Court.
The Dean: Actually I was almost cited 300 times but go on.
Professor Colt45: I want to present the School with an opportunity to host a conference on International Patent Law and its Implications for SubSahara Africa.
The Dean: Now there's an idea.
Professor Colt 45; Only the highest level people will be there and with airfares and lodging I think I can do this for $50,000.
The Dean: Conferences! --- why didn't I think of that? In fact, several people who have not asked since they are not as , , ,  energetic as you may have great ideas for conferences. I'll get a memo out right away asking for proposals. Please include yours when you get the memo.
Professor Colt45: But Dean, suppose you get many proposals and there is not enough money for mine.
The Dean: My point exactly!. Hey, I think I hear your mother calling you.

Act 2

The Dean: Yes. Come in.
Prof Madov: Hi Dean. You are busy I see but this is really an important opportunity for the school. In fact, I was just talking to Obama and he sends his best,
The Dean: [Yawning.] My my,  you know so many people and I am so impressed. Go on.
Prof Madov: I want to offer a course in Reading the Law in Flemish. The problem is I do not know Flemish but I an eager to learn so I think the school would be happy to sponsor my Flemish lessons.
The Dean: Intriguing
Prof Madov: I've draw up a budget. $3000 round trip airfare to Holland. Room, board, etc. It all comes in at about 150,000$ not including the actual lessons.
The :Dean: Fascinating idea, Been. I am thinking there may be others who want to learn a foreign language but did not think to ask. And since we cannot fund everyone, I'll get a memo out to the faculty indicating that we will consider all proposals.
Prof Madov: But Dean some people may apply who have really bad ideas
The Dean: Thanks for that tip. Somehow I realized that already.  As soon as the memo goes out, please send your proposal.

Act 3

The Dean: Yes, Come in.
Professor Towne (walking with  a slight limb): Hi Dean, Golf game Ok? I wish I had time for golf but, you know me --- work, work, work.
The Dean:  I do not play golf. So what's up Prince?
Professor Towne: Dean, I have  used my travel allowance for the year but now how an opportunity to attend a conference in Prague on Post Modern Contract Law.
The Dean: Used it up. On what?
Professor Towne: Oh yes, I did spend some on the AALS convention. And then there was the Conference in Rio during Carnival which was on Carnival Law. I co chaired a session by Skype from my cabana,   Now this Conference has come up at the last minute and my secretary neglected to tell me about it.
The Dean: It is really important for us to attend conferences but I wonder if other people have used their funds and might want a supplement. I'll get a memo out saying we have a little extra travel money and asking others indicate if there are important conferences they might like to attend.
Professor Towne: But Dean, if they did not ask evidently they did not think it was important.
The Dean: Yes, on the other hand, Maybe they took me seriously when I said there was no extra money so didn't ask.

Act 4

The Dean: Yes, Come in.
Professor Armstrong: Hi Dean. Thought I could find you here. I just saw the Provost and he said this is a great idea to bring up with you.
The Dean: Did he say it was a great idea or that it was a great idea to bring up with me.
Professor Armstrong: Oh, good question. It is a great idea and I'd like to give the Law school a chance to get on board.
The Dean: My ears are your ears.
Professor Armstrong: Many of the student want us to begin a Center on Law and Mindfulness. I will, of course, be director to get things off to good start. And then we will need to hire a couple of junior faculty, and a secretary.
The Dean: Law and Mindfulness? [said with wonder]
Professor Armstrong: First Dean let's think about breathing. [silence for 60 seconds] Now [talking very fast and loud]. Law and Mindfulness raises issues of malpractice, licensing. and ethical issues. For example, should mindfulness be taught to a serial killer who just wants to be more effective in his work?
The Dean: Kennedy, Kennedy! Hold on, hold on! You've convinced me. And you know what? There maybe other people who can think of new Centers. Maybe we should decide among all the possibilities, not just yours. I'll get a memo out to everyone asking if they have ideas for enriching the student experience and you be sure to apply.
Professor Armstrong: But, But, Mindfulness is so important!
The Dean: Yes, Yes it is. And it will be considered. So why don't you try to relax and I'll be back to you.

Intimate Fantasies: A Coda [from an anonymous contributor]
Scene takes place in around a table in an expensively furnished restaurant. Madov, Towne, Armstrong, and Colt45 are all seated around the table in relaxed postures. The table contains the remains of meals, half-full wine glasses, and at least two empty bottles of wine. A well-dressed Waiter stands at Madov’s elbow as the scene begins.
Waiter, holding out a check folio to Madov: Here is the bill, sir. 
Madov waiving a credit card at the waiter, rudely: Here, just put it on this.
Waiter takes the card and Madov immediately ignores him. Waiter walks off stage left. 
Towne: Was it expensive?
Madov shrugging dismissively: I just charged it to the card the school lets us use for conferences.
Towne: Oh, right, of course. What was I thinking?
Colt45 interjecting loudly: But, like I was saying, DeSpenser needs to go. I’m sure he didn’t take my proposal seriously because I’m a woman! He just rejected it out of hand! It’s so blatantly sexist.
Armstrong: Oh, I entirely agree. I think he’s probably a homophobe too. Why else would he reject so progressive a suggestion as a Center on Mindfulness?
Towne firmly: You should tell everyone on the faculty. Who knows what other sentiments he secretly harbors?
Colt45 proudly: Oh, I already have!
Armstrong also proudly: And I sent an email about it to the list-serve for my entire field!
Waiter emerges from stage left, looking nervous and holding the check folio in one hand and the credit card in the other. He walks very slowly over to Madov, occasionally checking the inside of the folio.
Towne: That’s great! The whole school should know about him. I can’t believe we all voted to hire him last year.
Madov: I think we should not lose sight of how serious a threat to our academic freedom he has become. This is indefensible!
Waiter leaning over to Madov and in stage whisper: Excuse me, sir.
Madov ignoring Waiter entirely and forcefully tapping the table with his finger: I am going to write a letter to the ABA explaining how DeSpenser is prohibiting us from taking professional development courses. 
Towne: And prohibiting us from going to important conferences!
Waiter, still leaning over to Madov (stage whisper): Pardon me, sir.
Colt45 ignoring Waiter and speaking to Madov: I’ll sign that letter! Just be sure to list everything.
Armstrong also ignoring Waiter: Me too. That sounds like a great idea. 
Waiter standing up straight and in regular volume louder now: Sir.
Madov still ignoring Waiter: Maybe we can get someone to blog about it . . . 
Towne: Wonderful idea! 
Colt45: Absolutely!
Madov: After all, this is about more than just us.
Armstrong: No indeed! This is an attack on the very soul of our law school.
Colt45: On the rule of law itself, really.
Towne: The world really does need to know all about this.
Madov: Right, so I will write it up. You talk to the other faculty . . .
Waiter loudly: Sir!
Madov turning slowly to look at Waiter, with a disgusted look on his face: What? Could you not see that we were in the middle of an important conversation?
Waiter holding folio and card out to Madov in one hand: I’m sorry sir, but your card has been declined.
Freeze. Lights hold for five seconds, then down. 


Monday, June 08, 2015

Why Law Schools are Mismanaged

Four factors account for disastrous law school management.

1) Allocations based on Asking.
2) Deans with Little Relevant Management Experience
3) A Dean's Term is directly related to the number of "yes" answers given.
4) Limited Resources.

1. I have noted that  law faculties are composed of asker/demanders and others. Asking is correlated with a sense of entitlement because most people do not ask for things unless they think there is a good chance the answer will be yes. The children of privilege, who dominate law teaching, have been hearing "yes" since they were born so they ask for more and, the way law schools are run, they receive more. Some folks may think this is just unfair but that is not the only problem. The problem is that it is very inefficient. As far as I know, no one has ever shown a correlation between the willingness to ask and any measure of the benefits generated by the funding or accommodation that is given.

2. Good or mediocre Professors Become Deans;  I have yet to know a law school dean who really understood much about allocating funds to get the most of them.  It's always puzzled me that most law school deans come for the ranks of the planning/math/human relations/seeing-the-big- picture impaired. If its a big law school, it would be like Wendy's looking for a new manager but saying "Prior food service experience disqualifies you." Put the "allocate to those who ask" problem with the "no prior management experience" qualification and you just need two more factors to create a catastrophe.

3.The length of a deanship depends on the ratio of yes to no answers a dean gives regardless of merits. The reason for this is easy. Deans serve at the whim of faculty. Faculty who hear yes most of the time like the dean. Those who hear no, do not. Remember, this is yes or no to the "askers" and it is without regard to whether the yes or no was a good idea from the standpoint of the institution.

4. There is that annoying little issue of limited funding. Yup, saying yes to everyone who asks means passing on better opportunities. A yes in September may mean no in May. Actually, I need to rethink this. More funding might mean even more bad decisions. Hmm.

You might ask, "How would a Dean know about better opportunities if people don't ask." That's so easy I cannot believe you asked but, since you did, how about this. A person of privilege, because it would not occur to anyone else, asks the dean to pay for his foreign language lessons. The Dean could say yes OR could, before doing that, say "You know what. It may be a good idea for faculty to learn a foreign language but we have 7 people who speak that language but no one who speaks _____. Let's see if learning ___________ would help anyone in his teaching or research." And then the Dean  writes a memo to the faculty that says " I think we should pay for foreign language lessons. If  interested let me know by writing a proposal indicating how it would help you in your teaching and research."  Obviously, the "ask" system means not even knowing if there are better opportunities. .
So let's review and, yes, the test is open book but not any book, only one by Michel Houellebecq.

The tendency to ask is not correlated with anything useful. Deans' allocate to those who ask because they stay longer if  they say yes, Ergo, Deans stay longer without regard to the actual usefulness of what people do with the money. This means crazy foreign programs, vanity courses. paying ten times what is necessary to supervise externs, unnecessary centers and directors, massive outlays for all manner of travel that is only important to the traveler (and his or her family) , etc.  On the other hand, very useful things that are not asked for are  unnecessarily ignored.

The system is rigged to fail unless you are a Dean or a faculty member with a powerful sense of entitlement. But wait maybe the system exists for them. In that case it's working just fine. In fact is very well oiled.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Bratomania!: Sociology of Law Professors, Part 17

Many blogs ago in this series of sociological observations, I noted that that in 30+ years I have only heard a law professor apologize twice. There has now been a third occasion but I don't thing it was serious enough for an apology. Oh, wait, in a way maybe that is why it was forthcoming. In any case, they do not apologize because in their minds whatever they do is explainable and apologies are a sign of weakness (real ones, that is).   People with a sense of entitlement never, never apologize.

Something else I realize now is they abhor transparency. This is all tied up with the asking/not asking distinction which is very much class determined. Here is very old example, A working class kid from a state school through some miracle gets an offer to teach and is told there will be a $2000 moving allowance. In the very same hiring season child of privilege gets the offer and the same moving allowance. The working class kid's reaction: Holy mackerel, they  are going to pay my moving expenses. The entitled kid immediate contacts the school and says; "I cannot not possible move for that. I need several thousand more." Ok,  that is a true story and I see it repeated among facutly, students and other people all the time.

The non privileged  ones do not quibble over teaching assignments, hours taught, or side deals. They have never been in a world in which people are so important, in their minds, that they are given special consideration. They are as one friend described it "suckers" and another "dopes." The privileged ones on the other hand want more money, more travel money, more secretarial help, and to  teach exactly what they want to teach when the want to teach it. They have ways to justify the most outlandish demands and deans typically cave in, especially who mistakenly view surviving as and indicator of success. .

Put there is one more ingredient, They know that what they ask for can not be for everyone so they ask and receive privately. Their view on administrative decision making  is not more or less transparency. It is more transparency for everyone else and no transparency when it comes to them, It's got to be that way.

Isn't this just the way American works. Some people have actually bought into the notion of fairness and that equal production means equal treatment. It is no mistake that these are the least well off people.  Others know to ask in a manner that suggest there is only one answer -- Yes. To make matters worse, there is no balance on Law Faculty. The askers/demanders out number worker bees  by 10 to 1.

I do not think this is hard wired. It must have been learned first from parents and then from teachers.  Wouldn't be fun to find the parents of each one of the brats and tell them their precious little brat is a greedy pig with a sense of entitlement.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Blue Book Value for Law Professors

I have argued on this blog that about 95% of law professors are fungible. I do not mean they are the same but that they are replaceable. Of course 100% them are literally replaceable but, at least at the schools where I have taught, there have been only 3 professors whose loss would have mattered much. Only 2 of those left.  By "mattered" I mean in terms of teaching, research, and elevating the faculty generally. In fact, one of the things I noticed right away when I got into this job is that no matter how much talk there was about the downside of losing someone before they left, once they left their names were rarely mentioned, their courses were taught, the students noticed no difference, and they were increasingly referred to as "what's his name."

There are three  qualifications here, First, very few people have actually left schools where I have taught, When they did leave it was viewed, in many cases, as a blessing as opposed to a loss. And, frankly, many of us were left scratching our heads when the dean struggled to keep some people,

 Nevertheless, where I teach, I have heard there is a policy to match offers from better schools, whatever that means, In fact, except in one case, it appears we match all offers, I doubt we are any different from other schools so,  what is this obsession Deans have with matching offers from other schools. I think the answer lies in behavioral economics but I am not sure. 

Any automatic offer matching policy is just another example of mismanagement, First, you may want the person to go, so why on earth match the offer? Second, if the offer is for  marginally more than the professor is making, he or she is not going to go for the money,  I would call the bluff of everyone who comes in with an offer than is not at least 10k more than they are already making. On the other hand, if it is a better location or a better environment, they are likely to go anyway. I remember once getting an offer to go to a much nicer place but for slightly less than I was making, I wanted to go and asked a friend what he thought, He said, "I would not live where you live for $4000 more a year." He was actually giving me a lesson on psychic income. and I believe that plays a role in most moves that actually occur. Anyone who would leave for a marginal increase in salary only should be permitted to go because he or she is not that smart. Things change and funding may dry up at the new place and get better at the old place, 

There are so many inconsistencies with the offer matching practice. If it reflects a policy that we will only pay you what the market says you are worth, then everyone who does not get a matching offer each year should, I suppose, be taking a pay cut. I  agree that is crazy but why does the market matter in some cases and not in others, Plus, suppose someone is making 120K at one school and gets an offer for 130K from another and the Dean matches it. Shouldn't the faculty member  be entitled to substantial back pay since the Dean has just admitted that the faculty member was previously being paid less than he or she was worth?  I guess that sounds crazy too but it all leads back to simply paying people what they are worth in the first place so they do not need to  peddle their wares elsewhere to determine a market value.

What we really need is a Blue Book for law professors. First you identify the model -- years of experience, courses taught, students taught -- and then account for mileage which would be amount of relevant writing and any accessories,  Of course, the roles are switched from the car example, Faculty are sellers -- some with the morals of a used car dealer -- and Deans are the buyers.

I'll never understand the fear Dean's have of losing people, even the least impressive people, When confronted with a faculty member with an offer from another school there is only one thing a Dean needs to decide -- what will it cost me to get someone to do what you do. In my years of teaching, I have seen only a few people who deserved to have an offer matched. The rest could have been replaced for less. 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Side Deal: Avoiding Transparency

A colleague at my law school has been schooling me on the side deal. It's not that I did not know they existed. If I had not known they existed, all the exposure of UT's "loans you don't pay back" would have enlightened me.

I am most interested in the forms of side deals and the motivation.  First, though, what is the side deal?  Say everyone gets a base salary and then a summer stipend ranging for 15% to 21% depending on whether you do research or teach in the summer. If you teach it varies with the credit hours. These are not side deals because the amounts are easily found and are available to everyone who complies with some basic rules -- write something in the summer.

Two other compensation  "deals" are probably not side deals even though they are not available to all. Some folks have chairs that add to their base salary. Some people are on 12 month contracts. As far as I know these are not kept secret and everyone has a chance. Others get paid (a finder's fee) for supervising externs. At my school, however you cobble all these things together, your summer salary must not exceed 33% of your base salary. But if one of your side deals can be eased over to the base salary you can actually have all the summer deals you want.

Their are two characteristics of a side deal. First, administrators would strongly prefer not to reveal them which means, if you are interested, you have to dig around. Second, they are customized --something the law school would not have done if just trying to be the best school possible. Instead it only exists because of a desire to benefit one faculty member

A side deal could work like this: You have your base salary and your summer stipend and then the pot is sweetened by a payment that comes out of another budget line that no one would be likely to examine. For example a full time professor may be also found listed as an adjunct for teaching a specialized course that created for that person alone. Or, as we had at one time at my school -- the mystery leave. They seemed to be handed out to whomever was supporting the dean at the time.

Some side deals come in the form of release time, small sections, vanity courses, and directorship of yet another meaningless center.  You might say those are not secret so why are they side deals. First, in some cases, it is difficult to determine what the deal is exactly. The main factor, though, is that it is a custom deal.  

More interesting than side deal and all its manifestation is why are they so popular with law deans -- or at least some Law Deans or, perhaps, former law deans.

One reason they are popular is the personality of most law professors -- everything in life is a zero sum game and the weak knees of deans So the Dean may feel that Professor X should get 2K more  than professor Y but realizes that Professor Y will have a melt down if he or she knew that X was making more than Y. So, the side deal allows the pay increase without causing Professor Y to have a breakdown or to  file a lawsuit. Of course, and I know this is the craziest thing ever, the Dean could actually be prepared to defend a salary difference.

I will have more to say about the ridiculous matching offer obsession in the next post but sometimes Professor X gets an offer from another school (at my school, usually one you would never take) and the Dean matches it, This can be a front deal or a side deal. A straight up base salary match is not a side deal but paving the way for the professor to pick a little coin that is only found somewhere else in the books and only available to that professor is a side deal

Basically, a side deal is a way a dean buys a little more time as dean, He or she makes someone better off and, if at all possible, keeps it quiet or makes everyone else feel they have their own side deals.

The most interesting thing about the side deal is the tad of irony involved. Once it is know that side deals are possible people get suspicious,  especially if they have their own side deal. They think, "if the dean is a shameless side dealer, how do I know someone else's side deal is not better than mine."  A Dean who hands out side deals to keep his or her job creates a side deal feeding frenzy because even those benefiting know not to trust that dean.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Random News in the Absence of Rile

Saw a play last night and after talked to my wife about how I did not care for plays. Two hours later buying tickets to see The Commitments in London next month. That's not the crazy part. The crazy part is  I will not be in London next month.

Law suit against the University and a former dean finally settled although I was hoping for a trial, Odd terms --- neither party can say anything disparaging about the other or it is a breach of the settlement. We will see how that goes.

Also, all inquiries about the plaintiff must be referred to the Provost who promises not to say bad things. OK so you call the Dean at a law school about someone and the dean says "you have to call the Provost." I am not sure that is neutral,

Wondering  if our former dean now holds the record for lawsuits filed against him as dean. Probably not but proof that sending mixed signals, hunkering down, and hoping problems disappear on their own can get you sued.

Irony? Recycling truck pick us plastics, metal, and paper and goes down the street with deadly looking blue/black smoke billowing out.

Read the worst book every written -- Bourne's Redemption. Audio CD in car, At one point there is a "reign of terror" which creates a downpour. At another, "The men came out of the room like boiling water."Similes and metaphor in every other sentence.

Search on for Associate Dean at my Law School. Unfortunate that the world's best Associate Dean will not go one more year since we will get an new dean and a new associate dean in the same year. Plenty of good candidates and some maybe not so good.

Rubber match in girls softball, I'm as nervous as a two legged  cat riding a gator's back. (not found in the above mentioned book). Gators lost 1-0 last night. If you hold the other team to one run you are supposed to win.