UO law school prof angry about plan to use his raise for student fellowships

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4/17/2014 update: And now the ABA Journal.

These emails have gone viral, with many hundreds of comments on law blogs like Lawyers Guns and Money, Tax Law Blog, Above The Law, Professor Bainbridge, JDU, Eschaton, Leiter’s Law School Reports, something called Gawker, and Jeff Manning’s piece in the Oregonian:

This was bad viral. The University of Oregon Law School professor’s wild rant about his compensation made Illig look petty and unsympathetic at the same time. More importantly, it shined a light on the raging debate about higher education, the value of advanced degrees and the mushrooming debt encumbering a generation of students.

The official UO law school blog – which, in an admirable demonstration of transparency actually allows comments, has responded:

To The Law School Community:

We’ve been getting some questions about a resolution brought to the last faculty meeting, and we’d like to share some information. Recently the University announced across-the-board cost of living adjustments and merit pay increases to take effect later in the year. A group of law faculty came up with the idea to divert the law school’s portion of the faculty merit pay funds to a post-graduate fellowship program for new law grads, in lieu of accepting a pay increase. Last Friday, this group brought this idea as a resolution (included below) to the regularly scheduled faculty meeting. A wide majority of those present voted to approve the resolution—in addition, a majority of the full faculty support the resolution.

We brought the matter to the Provost and although he is supportive of our goals he cannot bend the University rules to make this creative idea happen. However, we remain committed to finding ways to fund post-graduate opportunities and address other employment issues facing our graduates. We invite your comments and questions on this blog or one-on-one.

(I am not the Faculty Spokesperson. To avoid the appearance of speaking for everyone on the faculty, here I will include the names of some faculty who agreed to sign this statement (and I don’t mean to imply that those not included do not support it): Stuart Chinn, Michael Fakhri, Caroline Forell, Liz Frost, Erik Girvan, Carrie Leonetti, Mohsen Manesh, Roberta Mann, Michelle McKinley, Margie Paris, Jen Reynolds, Liz Tippett.)

Here is the text of the resolution from 4/11/2014:

The faculty recommends that the dean proceed with conversations with the Provost and the President regarding: reallocating funds for proposed faculty merit raises toward student fellowships, with a focus at present on post graduate student fellowships. If this proposal is approved, the faculty will revisit this reallocation of funds after two-three years.

4/14/2014: Several members of the law school email lists (which included staff, secretaries etc.) have forwarded these two emails from professor Rob Illig (Law) about a plan apparently floated by Law Dean Michael Moffitt (paid $292,800 after a recent raise) to deal with the law school’s enrollment problems and US News ranking, which has fallen from #80 to #100 since Moffitt took over in 2011.

The plan? Cancel raises for the faculty, and use the money to fund a program to give non-profits money to hire UO law school graduates, boosting the employment numbers that go into the US News rank.

Here are UO Law salaries for 2012-13, with comparison to other AAU publics:

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Associate Professor Illig is not happy with Moffitt’s plan, or with the lack of transparency in how it was presented to the law faculty (who apparently voted to approve it).

Subject: Re: law-fac-staff: What happened to Oregon Law?
From: Rob Illig <[email protected]>
To: Rob Illig <[email protected]>
Cc: Dustin Littrell <[email protected]>, law-faculty Faculty <[email protected]>, “[email protected] Staff List” <law-fac-sta[email protected]>, Dan Miller <[email protected]>


To my shock and amazement, I just learned – three days after the faculty
meeting – that someone (you? the faculty?) is trying to take away my
one-in-a-decade chance at a raise WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT.

Why did I not know that this was on the agenda for the faculty meeting?
Was the lack of notice intentional? (And was there a quorum?)

Why did no one announce the result? Certainly, someone changing my
salary without my knowledge seems like something I would like to hear
about. Was someone hoping I and the others who were unable to attend
simply wouldn’t notice until it was too late?

Note that I was unable to attend only because the regularly scheduled
faculty meeting was recently re-scheduled to conflict with the Oregon
Law Review’s long-planned academic symposium at which I was presenting.

(And, by the way, the complete absence of the deans and faculty at that
symposium was noticeable and embarrassing. A number of the very students
we are trying to support asked why their other law review advisors,
their deans, and their friends on the faculty failed to show up to
support them. I was, in truth, ashamed and had no good explanation – and
many of the students were clearly angry and disillusioned. Expect
another class to graduate with ill feelings toward us. And throwing a
few scholarships their way won’t make up for our failure to be there
when they need us.)

But back to the point – voting on this important a decision without
notice and without serious consideration was a gross breach not only of
procedure but of TRUST.

What did the agenda say? “Discussion of Graduate Fellowships.” Pardon my
French, but this is absolute bullshit. Colleagues do not ambush one
another like this.

How can I trust the administration or any of my faculty colleagues? No
wonder we’ve become a third-tier law school. Who’s going to want to come
here to study or teach in this kind of poisonous atmosphere?

As soon as money got tight, we seem to have turned on one another as if
this was a zero-sum game. Well, it isn’t. And enough is enough.

I’ve watched as our culture has eroded now for almost three years.
Everyone is in everyone else’s business, instead of their own. Everyone
is worried about what everyone else is getting, not what they can
personally contribute. If some professor or professors want to donate
their raise to the students – or to some other worthy charity – that’s
their business. (Personally, i give to Food for Lane Country, Planned
Parenthood, and the United Way. I feel that having given up the chance
at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students, and
I am particularly saddened by hungry children. Maybe I should move that
the recipients of summer stipends donate those funds to the poor and

We need a strategy. We need teamwork. We need an Oregon culture where
everyone can trust one another. Please, please, can we go back to the
Oregon I love?

Robert C. Illig

Dean’s Distinguished Faculty Fellow
Director, Oregon Law Summer Sports Institute

William W. Knight Law Center
1221 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403

Followed by:

Subject: Re: law-fac-staff: What happened to Oregon Law?
From: Rob Illig <[email protected]>
To: Rob Illig <[email protected]>
Cc: Dustin Littrell <[email protected]>, law-faculty Faculty <[email protected]>, “[email protected] Staff List” <law-fac-sta[email protected]>, Dan Miller <[email protected]>


I’m sorry, but I just can’t stop thinking about what I’ve just heard. I
am truly in shock. Who is paying attention at this law school to our

No wonder the students and faculty are disillusioned and our ranking is

As I learn more of the details of Friday’s proposal, I am even more
perplexed by its logic and frightened by its poison.

Is this some kind of faculty version of white-man’s guilt? We see
students without jobs and think that if we throw them a few of our
dollars we can go back to our scholarship and not worry about whether
they are getting real careers and real training? We can study the 17th
Century and believe we are preparing them for the 21st?

What we owe them is our time and effort and skill, not our paltry raises
(which, by the way, don’t even cover the increase in the cost of

And why stop at our raises? Why didn’t the proposal include the summer
stipends that a shrinking minority of the faculty received? Why not
donate those to the students as well?

We each face different financial pressures. And we each make all sorts
of charitable and other contributions, in both money and kind. Should we
put them all on the table? Do I get to keep more of my raise because
last year I gave more to the United Way than any other dean or faculty
member, even though I am by no means the highest paid? or because I gave
up the most salary when I joined the academy? or because my wife is
chair of the city’s budget committee and personally pushed through a
multi-million dollar bond measure to rebuild a number of 4J’s aging

And what about faculty with no children or elderly parents to care for?
Should they give more? Or faculty who purchased their houses when prices
were low instead of high? i have only one daughter whose college I must
pay for, but [names deleted] have
more. Should I be asked to donate more to the student fellowships since
my expenses will presumably be lower? What if my daughter does to a
lower priced state school instead of a private college? Should that make
a difference?

And am I to blame for the bad economy? Are my efforts so lacking as to
make the difference between students with jobs and without? Is my
teaching and mentoring so deficient as to merit what is essentially a
pay cut, given that Johnson Hall has already approved the monies?

These are questions we just shouldn’t be asking. That’s why faculty
don’t set each other’s salaries. It is nothing but poison to start
digging into what is fair in terms of needs.

We are the most underpaid unit on campus, according to Johnson Hall
figures. Is it possible that our third-tier status is actually related
to the fact that our incomes are falling as compared to the cost of
living? as compared to our competitors? Is it possible that when you pay
more you get more?

And what are the sponsors of the proposal doing to raise law school
income? My Summer Sports Institute – which the faculty voted wasn’t a
priority – is already projected to bring profit into the law school, not
to mention a reputational boost. I’ve got faculty from top 50 schools,
plus students from places like Michigan and McGill. Our reputation has
spread as far as South Africa and Turkey, with interested students there
trying to raise the funds to come to Eugene. The students are also close
to 50% minorities. And, again, it’s going to be profitable in its very
first year.

Telling me (or anyone else in this law school, whether they are faculty
or staff) that I (or they) don’t deserve a raise approved by Johnson
Hall is simply insulting. And going down that path starts to put us in
the place of K-12 educators, where well-meaning teachers would like to
do more but aren’t being rewarded to do more. It puts the teachers
against the students. And without an occasional raise, where do you
think I’m going to be incentivized to put my efforts?

The culprit here isn’t us. So let’s stop turning our anger and our
efforts on each other.

If you want to lead, lead my example, not by fiat. And certainly not by

We had a once-great culture that I was proud to join. But it isn’t
standing up to the test of the economic uncertainty. We need to work
together and be proud of one another’s many varied achievements. And we
need to help the students with our real, individual efforts, not with
symbolic gestures that undercut our trust in one another.

This is not the Oregon I knew.

Robert C. Illig

Dean’s Distinguished Faculty Fellow
Director, Oregon Law Summer Sports Institute

William W. Knight Law Center
1221 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403

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191 Responses to UO law school prof angry about plan to use his raise for student fellowships

  1. Justin says:

    The number of applicants to law school is dropping dramatically. Law schools need to seriously cut costs. Mr. Illig is lucky to have a job, which is more than I can say for most of the graduates of Oregon Law.

    • Vlad says:

      if the issue were who deserves the most sympathy in the world, The queue would stretch nearly around the world ahead of law shool grads and profs, but I saw Prof Illig’s complaint as one of process. good luck to all grads of any stripe still looking for good jobs. by the way, several other areas on campus are even farther behind peer salaries than law profs, but that is an aside. great blood moon eclipse if you were watching!

    • Underdawg says:

      In 2006, UO Law was ranked #69 (31 spots higher than today) when this happened:


      UO Law has never recovered.

    • Atha says:

      Justin – your comment basically misses the entire point of Professor Illig’s message. Not to mention that he could have a job in the private sector – as he intimated – earning a seven-figure salary, but chose not to so that he could give back to the community he loves.

      • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

        LOL, “Atha”, who writes “could have a job in the private sector – as he intimated – earning a seven-figure salary,”

        Please tell me this is sarcasm. Someone who jumped from N-P as a 6-7 year associate was not on the partnership track, they were on the “out-the-door” track. No way was Illig even coming close to a 7-figure salary. He should consider himself blessed to make the 200K or so he gets from UO for his part time job.

        • Call me Skip...it's short for skeptical says:

          Yes – if you can earn a seven figure salary but feel you need to give back to the community, there’s this thing that lawyers do called pro bono work. You work for compensation up the level your conscience permits, then you provide services for free. Careful…don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Being able to dedicate 80%+ of your time to pro bono work is probably more satisfying.

    • QuackAttack says:

      6 MORE YEARS!!!
      6 MORE YEARS!!!
      6 MORE YEARS!!! (though it would only take 3 more like the past 3 to fall out of Tier 3)



      Quite a read on the difference between imperial aspirations and empirical realities. Here’s the hidden gem:

      [Moffitt] said he’s agreed to a six-year term as dean with the possibility of extending that if things work out.

      “‘I imagine that someday I will return to the classroom, because it’s a passion of mine,” he said. “But I don’t think of this as a short-term gig.”

      • Anon says:

        If Moffitt stays that whole time we are Doomed.

      • Here We Go Again! says:

        By the way, is Moffitt going to cut his own salary as well? He’s right about his present gig not being short-time: it pays too well. Administrators, however, should lead by example too, so I am waiting to see how many of them vote for pay cuts to their own bloated salaries.

  2. Robert Illig says:

    No, Justin, it’s quite the opposite. The UO and its students are lucky to have me and all the other wonderful university faculty and staff who have sacrificed to be here. It’s time somebody said out loud what a great contribution every faculty and staff member is making to this community And all of us would be making more money at any of our competitor universities.

    We know jobs for graduates are scarce, but scaring us away won’t make more jobs appear. And believe me, we’re working hard to help the students. That’s our job.

    In my former life, I was an M&A lawyer at a large New York law firm, where I was all but certain to be earning more that $1 million annually. No one can tell me I’m not on the students’ side.

    My students are my life. I sacrifice for them every day. Today, I spent the morning trying to get one of them a summer job at Nike. I do the same every day.

    But ask yourself how many of those UO graduates would have jobs if I and the other dedicated faculty and staff at this university left.

    • Justin says:

      I’m sure you’re a fine professor, Mr. Illig. And I don’t doubt you work very hard for your students. I just think given the current environment, most law professors should be extremely grateful to have a job teaching law.

    • Circus says:

      Funny that. My students seem to be sold to get their own jobs.

    • JackieChiles says:

      “But ask yourself how many of those UO graduates would have jobs if I and the other dedicated faculty and staff at this university left.”

      How many students got a job just because you teach there? I’m betting 0.

      • Anonymous says:

        Without Professor Illig’s letter of rec I may not have a job currently, so I’ll take your bet.

        • chuck says:

          So, Anonymous, the good folks or whatever place it is that took you on, told you that they hired you due to Illig’s letter. No other factor, not anything else, from the many other candidates, and I assure you, there were more than a few for that same position, other than Illigis letter.

          Gotta tell bass, that’s some heavy mojo, that a guy from a middling law school, sends out a letter, and it’s the jackhammer to get you in, when other’s failed. Somehow, I find you and Illig less than credible, but if youse gots the proof, sure would be interested in seeing it….

    • Brandon says:

      “The UO and its students are lucky to have me and all the other wonderful university faculty and staff who have sacrificed to be here. ”

      A six figure salary for a low-stress job where you work maybe 30 hours a week publishing articles that aren’t peer reviewed and that no one reads, teach classes that can be taught with the same sylabbus and materials year after year, with no rainmaking, and a 3 month summer vacation is hardly a sacrifice. Spare me the false martyr shpiel.

      “In my former life, I was an M&A lawyer at a large New York law firm, where I was all but certain to be earning more that $1 million annually. ”

      All but certain? Really? Surely you jest. You didn’t even make it to partner. Still, assuming your assertion is true, maybe you should leave this horrible, unfair law school school, and high tail it to SullCrom where I’m sure your insights into “sustainable corporate governance” will be amply rewarded. But something tells me you’re not going anywhere…

      “But ask yourself how many of those UO graduates would have jobs if I and the other dedicated faculty and staff at this university left.”

      Probably the same amount as the last class, give or take a few accounting for market conditions. No one hires someone based upon what professors that candidate had in law school. If you all left, you would be immediately replaced by other professors who would be happy to take your place for slightly lower pay. As a practicing attorney, I’d love to have your job.

    • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

      “where I was all but certain to be earning more that $1 million annually”

      LOL. You’ve gotta be a troll/flame.

      No one could be so clueless as to have been serious in writing this.

      Even ignoring the fact that N-P’s APPP is only about 700, darn few (if any) MA 6th/7th years were going to make (or made) partner between 2003 and 2006,

    • David says:

      No, Mr. Illig, it’s quite the opposite.
      Go back to your ‘former life’ as a partner making megabucks in the world of Big Law. Good luck getting your old job back. Good luck with that period at this point. If not, go beg for a job at one of the ‘competitor universities’ you refer to. Why wouldn’t they–any of them–gladly lavish you with a handsome salary more commensurate with your obviously superior capacities, as much your astonishing ego?
      When you’ve finished taking inventory of all the ways in which your salary has not kept up with your inflated sense of self-worth, go and visit the local charities, the half-way houses, the soup-kitchens, the local food-bank, the homeless shelters, the unemployment line. Take minute inventory of what you see there in each of those environments.
      Talk to those men and women. Talk to the ones whose lives, careers and futures were irremediably and permanently destroyed by the little economic hiccup we’ve seen over the last several years (and that 6 years later, shows no sign of realistically abating).
      When you’re done with all that, go talk to the social workers, the child-protective services and case workers, the public servants, the civil servants, the K-12 teachers–and advocates for at-risk populations in the community. Ask them how they’re coping with *real* wage-stagnation, and an ever increasing work-load, in a context where there is no retirement and no margin, where life is one long grind, year after year, decade after decade, and you can’t afford health insurance because you have no discretionary income.
      Yes, your Dean is a weasel of the first rank–a self-serving worm–not much doubt on that point. I would say: see that you don’t become one while you’re sleeping, lest you awaken to find out, to your horror and amazement, that you are, actually, Gregor Samsa.
      How’s that for a little solidarity?

    • Double Duck says:

      Where was this ‘we’ when you threw the CNC under the bus? If recollection serves, you did not inquire of the adjuncts, the students, or anyone else when you advocated for termination of an entire program. Apparently “ambush” was a perfectly acceptable manner for YOU to approach a perceived problem, even without any substantive evidence of a problem.

      The professors and adjuncts of the CNC were equally passionate and, by your logic, even more dedicated based on the paltry compensation they received in comparison to yours (which @ $136K is higher than the 90th percentile of Eugene Attorneys).

      Even when your histrionics proved to be just that, you still clung to your high horse. You were the first “to have turned on one another as if this was a zero-sum game.” Now that you have to hold onto that 2012 bmw for a year or two longer “enough is enough?” Yet again more histrionics without substance.

      It is ironic that you come to the following realization at this moment:
      “We need to work together and be proud of one another’s many varied achievements. And we need to help the students with our real, individual efforts, not with symbolic gestures that undercut our trust in one another.”

    • Josh M says:

      Shh shh shh…you need to work on not sounding like a complete out-of-touch asshole.

  3. Anas Clypeata says:

    What those law profs need is a union! Oh wait…

  4. anony says:

    Isn’t Moffitt still paying Dave Frohnmayer? Should be some cost savings there.

  5. Do as I say says:

    is the proposal from the Dean, who just got a raise to $292,800.

  6. Anon says:

    The comparator situation is unfortunate but it’s hard to be too sympathetic given that law salaries are 30-40% higher than in my part of the university (in fact most parts of the university)– particularly given that my colleagues and I went to graduate school for 6-8 years and are expected to churn out at least a couple of substantial articles per year plus get grants. The law profs go to law school for 3 years and (I’m told) need only 2-3 articles to get tenure. Most CAS profs would be delighted to have a law salary without raises.

    • Publius says:

      The low publication requirement is more a feature of the U of O law school than law schools generally now. This is just one contributor to the U of O’s low ranking. Plus publications are entirely in student-edited journals, which no other discipline would tolerate. Finally, law school is really one year of serious study, the other two consumed with internships etc. This is why many are proposing to make law school two years instead of three.

      • Animal farm says:

        A response to Publius. First, to compare the number of articles required for publication in law versus other disciplines is nonsensical. Law review articles are typically at least 50-60 pages, often longer, and are extremely deep dives into a particular topic. Each is basically a monograph on a particular subject. Publishing three articles before tenure combined is about the equivalent length of a book, and most professors at the law school go up for tenure with more than that. UO law professors work exceedingly hard, pre-tenure and post-tenure, and are highly regarded nationally. Your other points about the student-edited journal system and the length of law school are non sequiturs as they are about US law schools generally and are in no way unique to UO.

        • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

          “First, to compare the number of articles required for publication in law versus other disciplines is nonsensical. Law review articles are typically at least 50-60 pages, often longer, and are extremely deep dives into a particular topic. ”

          And yet legal “scholarship” is the only known form of supposed “scholarship” that requires no peer review (no review at all, in fact, other than rubberstamping by pliant student editors).

          To compare legal writings, “deep dives” or not, to real scholarship is ludicrous.

          • Pantsless Santa says:

            Legal scholarship is as “real” as nearly anything in the humanities, and most articles would survive peer review. Law profs also have to deal with hordes of idiotic student law review editors who attempt to pick apart their work.

            And six-figure salaries are necessary to attract qualified candidates. Most law professors went to top law schools and graduated at the top of their classes. That doesn’t qualify them for million-dollar salaries, but they can do well enough for themselves that $80k simply would not cut it. Neither would a requirement to work as hard as professors in other disciplines, which is why (as you and many other commenters have observed) law professors have such a low workload compared to others.

    • Tybalt says:

      And Anon, that’s before you arrive at how intellectually bankrupt legal scholarship is. (I should know; I’ve done it myself.) Prof. Illig’s last published paper was a (slightly) glorified book report called “A Business Lawyer’s Bibliography: Books Every Dealmaker Should Read”. The previous one to that was four years ago.

  7. Robert Illig says:


    As a business law professor, I couldn’t agree with you more about the inequities of compensation in America. Too many in this world are paid far too much, and too many far too little.

    But as for the immediate issue, the correct comparator is our competitor schools, not other departments within the UO. If we want to recruit talented legal minds, we need to compete with salaries paid by law firms. And that doesn’t mean we need to be at parity with law firms (again, I would have been earning in excess of $1 million annually). But it does mean that we need to be cognizant of the realities of the market, however much we believe it to be inequitable. We simply cannot run an AAU-level university without understanding the varying opportunity costs of our many fine professors.

    So while I respect that many CAS faculty might envy my salary, I envy the salaries of CEOs, many of whom only attended graduate school for only 2 years. And don’t forget the doctors – they went to school for 4 years, not the 6-8 that you put in.

    But my larger point is – why attack me and my salary? I’m not the problem. The problem is the paltry sums the state allocates to public education. The problem is the way we allocate money in our society.

    You shouldn’t be angry that I earn so much. You should be angry that you don’t earn more. Instead of trying to bring me down, let’s all work together to try and bring everyone up. We’re actually in the same boat, whether you realize it or not.

    My plea is for Oregonians everywhere to please quit fighting with one another and instead turn our eyes toward the real culprits.

    This world and this university are only zero-sum games if we let them be.

    • Tybalt says:

      “If we want to recruit talented legal minds, we need to compete with salaries paid by law firms. ”

      But that’s utter nonsense, and what’s more you know it’s utter nonsense. You tourself tried to justify your tantrum, on the basis that you ‘sacrificed’ a million dollar salary to teach at UO. UO can in no way compete for those people on dollars.

      • Eric Rasmusen says:

        Salary matters at the margin. I can well imagine someone like Prof. Illig deciding to stay a professor at a salary of $130,000 but not at a salary of $90,000. If you’ve recruited somebody worth $1,000,000 on the private market, it’s a shame to lose him for lack of $40,000. Universities need to decide whether they want to pay enough to get talent equivalent to that in the private sector or not. It’s not too hard to attract people with English PhDs away from the private sector into teaching. In fact, I would think English professors are overpaid, given the number of people who want the jobs. Being a law professor is less attractive compared to the alternatives.

        • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

          “If you’ve recruited somebody worth $1,000,000 on the private market, it’s a shame to lose him for lack of $40,000. ”

          The problem here is the assumption given is a rank fallacy.

          • Eric Rasmusen says:

            What’s the fallacy? What is *your* estimate of what Prof. Illig would be earning if he’d stay’d in private practice?

            By the way, every law professor, not just Illig, could have made more money in private practice. He’s special only in that he did go out and do it before becoming a professor, and he could go back with less adjustment time. Law professors at institutions such as U. of Oregon are people who were top students in their class or who went to tip-top law schools. Thus, they are in that group that *does* get the offers to be big-law associates. I would guess that most of them would have hated the jobs despite the pay and that’s why they are professors, but please do recognize that the law schools are getting talent at far below the price the private market has to pay.

    • Anonymous says:

      The market is the market. Those who command more go out and get it. The rest stay behind and complain that their bosses should pay them more. Your competitor schools are all suffering from the same set of problems right now.

      You make many leaps of logic. 1. that you are partner material 2. that as a partner at Nixon Peabody you would make $1M. PPP does not even seem to cross $1M at Nixon. So you, presumably, would have been one of the highest paid partners at Nixon Peabody? Yet you left all that on the table to go be a law professor. Hmmm.

      • SomeGuy says:

        I suspect that Prof Illig’s students and colleagues now have a much better idea from the comments on this site and on many others on the web that not all of what he writes and says can be trusted. His continued seven figure fantasy tale alone should give pause to any who might have placed trust in him.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      Doctors – only 4 years? Wow, dude…

    • M. says:

      Mr. Illig:

      What you fail to realize is that there is no money for all that you advocate. We have had a major crisis and most of us have had to do a lot more for a lot less. You mention that no one should attack you and your salary and that we all should be angry that we don’t earn more. Uh, don’t you think we all have long advocated for that?

      Perhaps, Mr. Illig, we have all realized something that you haven’t yet realized: there was this thing called a recession. It hurt budgets, people’s salaries, caused them to lose homes and jobs, etc. We’ve all had to make adjustments to our salaries, expectations, etc. Not because we like to. Because, Mr. Illig, for some of us, there is no choice. The question isn’t one of whether we are going to get a ‘measly’ raise. The question is one of whether we have enough to pay for food and electricity in the same month.

      And many of us, Sir, are just as talented as you are. We don’t dislike you because of your salary. We dislike because of your arrogance and lack of compassion and understanding of the realities so many of us face. At a time when everyone has had to make do with less because there simply isn’t enough in the budget to go around, one of the highest earners (compared to the average, skilled American) is complaining about a salary that many, including many talented legal individuals, would love to have.

      You say your salary isn’t the problem. How isn’t it? Law graduates every day are burdened by enormous debt that prevents them from serving in public interest positions, while contributing to them leaving the profession. This enormous debt is making it impossible for low and middle-incomed individuals to pursue law careers and be members of our profession. This will have a profound impact on the makeup of our profession in the future and access to justice. And you want the money to solve this problem to come from elsewhere (ie: the public taxpayers) so that you can continue to wonder whether your daughter will attend a public versus a private college?

      You mentioned that you are concerned about the inequities and inequality of income in America. Being concerned requires doing a lot more, Mr. Illig, than merely railing about the injustices of your own salary. It requires more than just demanding that a public that every day doesn’t have enough to pay for its teachers, police officers, child welfare workers, public defenders, etc. to pick up the tab so that you don’t have to. If you truly are concerned about the inequities of compensation in America, realize the buck starts with you. Your high salary directly contributes to income inequality as it raises the cost of tuition, preventing many talented but lower-incomed populations from being able to enter the legal field and represent society’s most vulnerable population. And when those individuals aren’t represented, Mr. Illig, their needs, such as advocacy for higher salaries for lower-incomed indivuals, go unmet.

      It’s time to stop saying, Mr. Illig, that someone else, such as the public should do the heavy lifting while you continue to merely advocate that your own salary be increased. It’s time to stop pretending that the greed of people in your situation isn’t fueling the problem.

      Full disclosure: I am fluent in numerous languages, had an illustrious career overseas in government before going to law school, have had a fifteen year, successful work history, have academic accolades from both American and European universities, am licensed to practice law in two jurisdictions, and am currently working for $14,000 a year after being unemployed for too long. I deserve everything you have, Mr. Illig and more. There is nothing in my past that I am not proud of. But fortunately, I have realized that the money to pay all of us what we think we should earn is just not there. When it becomes available, I’ll be the first to go after it. Until that happens, I will pray that I have enough to eat this month while still paying for my car insurance.

      You should be praying with gratitude, Mr. Illig, for the good fortune you have had, because that, along with your own talent, skills, and hard work have gotten you to where you are. Instead, you are ungrateful and focused only on how you should be getting more, because apparently, compared to the rest of the population in the United States, what you have is just not enough.

  8. Robert Illig says:


    The UO School of Law is ranked 53rd among our peers at other law schools. They do not have a problem with our publication record, which I believe you understate through vague generalizations.

    We are ranked 100 overall in the latest US News for one simple reason – we don’t charge high tuition.

    US News equates a high tuition with high quality because it assumes that we are charging what the market will bear. Thus, according to their logic, if we are cheap, it must be because we cannot recruit students at a higher price point.

    But we are not seeking to charge what the market will bear. We believe we have an obligation to our students – the ones who aren’t getting jobs in this economy – to try and keep their debt loads as low as possible. We are therefore dedicated to a low tuition model.

    If we were to raise tuition at the law school by about $12,000, and then give all the money back to the students in the form of a mail-in rebate, we would immediately move into the top 50 law schools.

    And whatever else you may have to criticize about the structure of the legal academy, fairly or not, I didn’t create it and my salary should not be based on what prior generations of legal professors decided was appropriate. I can work for change, but in the meantime there is no reason to penalize me for not yet achieving it.

    Again, if the UO wants excellence – if we truly value being a member of the AAU – we need to quit griping about one another and start rewarding excellence.

    Everybody please just stop confusing who the bad guys are!

    • anonec says:

      “We are therefore dedicated to a low tuition model. […] If we were to raise tuition at the law school by about $12,000, and then give all the money back to the students in the form of a mail-in rebate, we would immediately move into the top 50 law schools.”

      Seems to be simple: “Just do it” and “Go Ducks”.

      But maybe it requires an expensive administrator hiring an expensive consultant.

    • Recall says:

      Then why don’t you do this. In fact do this along either merit scholarships or financial aid and you’ll increase your ranking.

    • uomatters says:

      I don’t want to defend US News, but their website says a peer assessment (by professors and judges) counts for 40% of the rank, employment outcomes are 20%, while instructional expenditures are only 9.75%. Student tuition does not show up at all.

      Therefore the “raise tuition and offer discounts plan” would not help game the rankings, unless it magically increased instructional expenditures. Who ever is claiming this is misinformed, or trying to misinform others by exaggerating the problems with the ranking.

      From US News:

      “The average instruction, library and supporting services (0.0975)”


    • Anono says:

      Rob, you forgot to remind readers how much you think I you could be making back in New York.

    • SomeGuy says:

      This is utter fantasy.

    • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

      Oh, my, goodness. Did a law prof actually write that “”?

      Huh. That’s silly. Tuition is not in the crappy USNWR formula at all. Expenditures per student is, but even then, it’s less than 10% and there’s no indication that schools who charge more necessarily spend more per student (as one salient example, many law schools in thrall to a parent Univ divert, uh, profits from tuition to the parent uni).

      In any event, as ATL reminded us just last week:

      “Watch out for this kind of disingenuous spin this week. Watch out for schools that are not cheap claiming that the U.S. News punished them for tuition restraint. Watch out for schools who are not getting students jobs to talk about the “unfair formula” U.S. News applies.”

      LOL. No one wants to admit Ellie May Mystal is prescient, but it appears that in at least one case he was.

      • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

        Beg everyone’s pardon – I managed to drop the quote I intended to include, which was “We are ranked 100 overall in the latest US News for one simple reason – we don’t charge high tuition.”

    • Fishwrapper says:

      Dear Mr. Illig,

      I’m not confusing who the bad guys are…

    • Nathaniel Brown says:

      Professor Illig, I don’t understand the argument that we are ranked 100 because we don’t charge enough. UO’s tuition for 13-14 is $30,586 and UW’s tuition is $30,891 and they are ranked 24th. If they raised our tuition to 40k would be be ranked in the 20s too? Im sure all of us would pay a few hundred dollars to get our ranking to the 20s or even back to where it was 3 years ago when I started. UHawaii is ranked the same as we are and their tuition is $18,336. So the algorithm doesn’t seem to apply the tuition costs the way you suggest. Can you explain this to me?

  9. Reality check says:

    I think Prof. Illig — and frankly professors at any similarly ranked law school — need a serious reality check. Prof. Illig seems to think there are better options. Rather than offer even one, he complains about his pocketbook. Here are the facts:

    1) law school enrollment is dropping across the board, but especially at lower ranked school
    2) the employment numbers at UO are abysmal
    3) students already are voting with their feet/dollars
    4) law faculty are paid well (it may not be millions, but six figures is PLENTY)
    5) UO law grads are generally telling their friends and family not only to avoid the legal profession, but specifically to avoid UO

    So what to do? Can you attract better faculty who graduated from top tier institutions, publish like nobody’s business, while also managing to be inspired in the classroom on the salaries currently available at UO? Nope. If UO is lucky, they will get someone who has ties to the NW and/or someone who is new enough to give up the rank in order to get experience — but she’ll leave as soon as she can.

    Can you get Phil Knight to donate enough money to the law school so it can compete with the likes of second tier law schools (forget top tier)? Unlikely, though I hope someone is trying.

    Can you raise tuition? Sure, but this will only exacerbate the problem of students choosing to go elsewhere.

    Can you take out one of the other three Oregon law schools since Oregon has NO BUSINESS churning out three sets of law school graduating classes each year? I wish, but this won’t happen (at least voluntarily) any time soon.

    So what is left? Something has to give. Assuming Prof. Illig and all UO law profs are beyond reproach: sacrificing their millions in order to teach eager incoming law students and land them fancy jobs at Intel and US Outdoor Store, the employment numbers suggest they haven’t been especially successful. Blame the economy if you must, but the status quo is decidedly NOT working.

    So, it sounds like Dean Moffitt has suggested an uncomfortable alternative, but at least it’s one worth trying and impacts those who are in the best position to absorb it. Status quo and chats with Nike aren’t cutting it. This is worth trying. If it fails, try something else, but until then, dropping 20 slots every year in rank is not an option — not if UO wants to remain viable.

    This is tangentially related, but if the agenda was misleading and the timing inappropriate, this suggests politicking at UO is ugly, desperate and likely either a symptom of the problems the law school is facing or feeds into it. At this point, I imagine it’s really a chicken/egg issue and it doesn’t really matter who came first.

    • Paying Market Rates for Faculty is Necessary for Maintaining Quality says:

      The blanket statement that “six figures is plenty” is naive. Market rates at comparator institutions need to be considered if we want to maintain faculty quality.

      The claim that “six figures is plenty” ignores the reality that universities need to invest in excellent faculty (in a market populated by comparator institutions recruiting from the same pool) to improve programs, rankings, and student experience. Losing our best law faculty will not help the students who are dissatisfied with their UO law education; it would simply lead to declining faculty quality and worse educational experiences for later students.

      • SomeGuy says:

        This comment has been deleted for exceeding the max nastiness ratio.

        • twitterbe says:

          How are you coming on “The MaxNastie Review”, to be published at the end of the year? All good editors like to examine and evaluate their contributors.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is 2014, not 2006, and law schools really do not need to invest in anything or worry about competitive salaries. They need to worry about staying afloat.

  10. Anon says:

    Isn’t it a little presumptuous to say you’d be making in excess of $1 million? How many associates at the firm became partners? You presumably left the firm to become a law professor- not exactly partner material.

  11. Margie Paris says:

    Important clarification of facts here — (1) the proposal to forego faculty raises did not come from Dean Moffitt, but rather from a number of us on the faculty; (2) the proposal isn’t aimed at attracting new students (for rankings or any other purposes) but instead at helping out our graduates (this year’s and subsequent year’s), who are struggling to find jobs in a very depressed market, by supporting them financially in post-graduation public interest fellowships. Such fellowships can enable them to help their communities, learn valuable lawyering skills, and be better positioned to find a permanent job within a year or so.

    • uomatters says:

      Again, from the US News description of their methodology:

      “Full weight was given for graduates who had a full-time job lasting at least a year where bar passage was required or a J.D. degree was an advantage. Many experts in legal education consider these the real law jobs.”

      It sounds like this fellowship program would meet that requirement, and therefore boost UO’s ranking. These programs are common at other law schools – though UO’s funding mechanism is novel, to say the least.

      This program would of course be good for the graduates, as you note. And since UO Law’s Dave Frohnmayer was just paid by BP to lobby the legislature into defeating a bill to help fund legal aid services for the poor, there are plenty of groups that could use the help!


    • Eric Rasmusen says:

      Margie Paris,
      Thank you for the clarification and for using your name. Can you explain why the salary proposal wasn’t announced in advance?

    • Do as I say... says:

      Can anyone articulate Dean Moffitt’s plan? $292,800 must buy something.

  12. Another UO law grad out of the field says:

    Here is a perspective from a class of 2011 law alum who figured out the depressed industry and got out ahead of time…

    Despite being highly active and engaged as a law student (focusing in business), my options upon graduation were extremely limited. By that, I mean I had none. The internship I landed was my own doing, not Illig’s or any other profs. My alum friends received the same love upon graduation and they, almost to a person, struggle to pay their loans and live life in their field of law. It’s pathetic.

    I’m embarrassed to have gone to UO law, even though I was smart enough to get my MBA, which has real income potential, and work my way into a six figure job. The last thing I want are my statistics clouding the terrible job UO has done to prepare its graduates for the real world.

    To think that the work product of the UO faculty deserves a raise over fellowships for graduates, particularly from somebody so far above the poverty level and who has done so little to change the status quo, is downright insulting.

    Tell us again – how many millions a year can you make outside the school of law?

    • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

      Hey, Another UO law grad, we’re all sure yer ver-see-tyle LAW DEGREE gotcher that there sixfig job.

      See? The lawl degree, it’s ver-see-tyle.

      Say it widme, peeps: VER-see-TYLE!

  13. Observer says:

    Saying “They make more than [fill in the blank] so they should be lucky” is specious. That’s just what people in lower-paying jobs say of all profs at the UO. “Well, they’re making $80,000 and I’m only making $50,000 working at [whatever], so they should count themselves lucky!” The point is that if the UO falls further behind its comparator institutions, everything gets worse. There’s greater faculty turnover, we lose prospective faculty to other universities, current faculty are demoralized, resentful, and open to be lured away by other instutitions. And faculty turnover is expensive. In additiion, the method for deciding on this move seems suspect. If I’d just gotten my first raise in a decade — and I have — I’d be mighty put out if someone decided to divert it to some other cause, especially if I were blindsided about it. I think this is a very unwise move.

  14. Revenge says:

    That will teach you, Rob, to write slander comments about UOMatters in the IAC report. Mess with us again and we will pull your credit reports!

    Shouldn’t the law faculty be allowed to have private email discussions and not have them posted here?

    • uomatters says:

      One of the major objections in Rob’s emails was that the process should have been more transparent. Plus he cced half the planet on both emails. Not exactly a private discussion.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      Umm, Revenge, Kittie and Anon, it’s not in Law, other than a school of law in a public institution. The provenance of the e-mail makes it public business; the fact that it may have been obtained without resorting to a public records requests does not make it less so. Something to be considered when typing across a campus e-mail system… Illig’s missive related to a department policy, not an individual’s performance or review, which could be considered a protected communication.

  15. Kittie says:

    Even half the planet, hand-picked by the author, is not the same as publicly posted courtesy of someone who seems not to have been among those cc’d. Not sure this is kosher, uomatters.

    • Joe Pulitzer says:

      Clearly a “public service”, even if not “disinterested and meritorious”. Quite revealing, and fascinating comments too. Sorry, no medal this year though.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure what field you are in, but in Law, something can be considered public if there is an expectation it will be overheard. Sending the email to 3 billion people would qualify, so would this.

      More importantly, did it ever cross our mind that he WANTED this to get spread around?

    • underemployed lawyer says:

      Anyone who still believes email is private, especially when using an institutional system, has not been paying attention.
      PS: Let me know when they advertise his job.

  16. Illig--SlowThyRoll says:

    Illig, am I supposed to have sympathy for you? Just think how many law school grads within what’s been nearly the last decade would probably actually kill to have a job as a professor, or really just about any legal job, much less one that pays six figures, no matter whether it’s considered “competitive” or not and regardless of whether raises are provided. And go ahead and compare that professor position you’ve got to what private industry expects of attorneys young and old nowadays–you left a law firm, so I’m pretty sure you know the answer. You traded what you (rather generously) claim to be a 7 figure income to go work for what you seem to imply is mere beans in academia, but when you compare the time and revenue expectations for the two positions, I’m not at all convinced you didn’t get the benefit of the bargain. And consider too that law degrees aren’t getting more valuable–to the contrary, they’re quickly becoming a pretty horrible investment. So maybe the real picture that needs to be painted is that it’s UO that’s gone ahead and gotten ahead of the curve and decided to cap its cost layout for an industry that is clearly seeing diminishing returns. Keep the big picture in perspective before you go pitching a fit: you’ve got yourself a pretty nice little gig already, raise or not, and I don’t see any area of the legal field to be a sellers’ market anymore.

  17. Very, very proud of UO Law faculty says:

    A majority of UO’s law professors just voted to freeze their own pay in order to fund a program that will help their students get jobs doing legal aid or other public service work. Professor Illig’s opinions be damned, this is a praiseworthy, personally costly, and (mostly) selfless effort by the faculty to do what is right for their students. Good for them!

    • uomatters says:


    • Eric Rasmusen says:

      What he’s objecting to is the other faculty voting to cancel *his* raise, and doing it secretly. It sounds as if the public interest jobs are the kind of political cause that not everybody supports, too. Sneakily taking away someone’s raise to use for your pet political projects is not admirable.

      • uomatters says:

        Yes I agree that part of his complaint fits under the “… without representation” clause.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t see how Illig can complain that they were canceling “his raise” (at least in toto) because it also included merit raises. I guess he “assumes” he would get a merit raise. Considering his sense of entitlement . . .

  18. rationalist says:

    The proper response is to declare a financial exigency, fire under-performing faculty, continue to invest heavily in our stars, and create the fellowship programs for students that help them achieve their goals and maintain student excellence. If enrollment is cratering the only options are to hold the line on salaries, fire people, or both. Trying to maintain the status quo is an absolute barrier to excellence. If we have too few students then we have too many faculty.

    That being said, Illig is 100% correct that this is largely a product of state disinvestment in education. This deprives the UO of the ability to make smooth transitions between options. However, this disinvestment is the not the cause of the dropping enrollment, although they are both symptoms of shared root causes.

  19. another observer says:

    If you sell “uomatters” subscriptions the Law profs, you’d make bank.

  20. uomatters says:

    I’m thinking of charging $10 per comment – all profits to fund legal-aid, of course.

    • another observer says:

      Is the meter running?

      “Law” brings out verbiage, no doubt, from outlandish to seemingly rational. But with this quick input, one has to wonder when the general UO faculty needs support, where is it then? Not so talkative, and it’s a shame.

  21. Anon says:

    Dear Prof. Illig and anyone at UO that cares:

    I am a graduate of UO law. I graduated in the past few years. I’d like to offer my humble opinion as to one of the reasons UO’s rankings have dropped and a few other observations.

    I believe the BRILLIANT idea of lowering the GPA curve while other schools have inflated grades is one of the biggest culprits. To me it was a no-brainer that this decision would have significant consequences for the students. At the time the administration (led primarily by Moffitt as I understood it) proposed the tougher standards and strong-armed the faculty (especially adjuncts) into giving more B and C grades we, the students, strongly objected.

    The wise administration told us that enforcing a lower grading curve would make UO more competitive and boost our rankings. Meanwhile, Seattle University (as one example) was unabashedly raising their curve. Guess what happened? Seattle U has risen in the rankings while UO is at an embarrassing low. THANKS and BRAVO UO Law faculty and administration.

    I began applying for anything and everything before I passed the CA bar (on the first time no thanks to UO). At first, I couldn’t even get an UNPAID job because the market was so flooded that graduates from USC, UC Davis, UCLA, and other Tier 1 schools were applying for the same unpaid jobs or law clerk positions. Fortunately, I got into a firm as a law clerk position before the bar results came back and I was then hired as an attorney once I proved my worth. Before I landed that job and since that time, I have spoken with many attorneys from various firms (big and small) and they all said the same thing.

    First they look at the school’s name. Second, they look at the GPA. NONE of them spend a moment pondering whether the school of Applicant 1 with a GPA of 3.2 has a “tougher” grading curve than Applicant 2 with a GPA of 3.9. They don’t have time! Third, they look at experience. The clinics at UO are IMPORTANT to employers. Some place greater or equal emphasis on practical experience from these clinics than whether or not the applicant was on Law Review.

    WAKE UP UO LAW! Use some common sense. Take Illig’s comments about PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE seriously. The future of our graduates is affected by your stupid decisions.

    As to the rest of Illig’s positions I have mixed feelings. As a recent graduate in a tough market (made tougher by UO’s grading strategy) I find it hard to sympathize with the lack of a raise. To compare, I know many of my classmates with several years of experience are only earning 40-60K/year with over 100K in debt (easily working 50-70 hours a week). Some of us earn more, but we are a fortunate few. So yeah, we aren’t quick to jump on the “Give Prof Illig a raise” bandwagon.

    On the other hand, Prof Illig is a GREAT professor (don’t let that go to your head Illig) and UO should fight to keep him (and others). I also have no idea what his salary is, what expectation he had for a raise, or prior arrangements he had with the University so I think those who are quick to judge should calm down and focus on the real issues. I think Prof Illig has every right to demand transparency and call for better communication and participation by faculty. From the emails it sounds like they pulled a fast one.

    Speaking of participation by faculty, I was very pleased with some of the professors and staff on campus who were very involved and helpful [Hildreth, Heather Brinton, Illig, Leonetti, Lininger, Margie Paris and a few adjuncts]. I was also very disappointed with the arrogant and unhelpful attitudes of others [Moffitt (observation only), Rowe, and others]

    In short I would ask UO Law to take Prof Illig’s comments to heart. Act like a team. Communicate. Brainstorm about how to improve UO Law for current students, alumni and faculty. There is so much potential that is not being realized and it breaks my heart and frustrates me to no end. Focus on what matters and avoid the band-aid solutions. In short, put Margie Paris back in charge. :) She was amazing and truly cared about the students. :)

    • Another UO law grad out of the field says:

      Really couldn’t agree more with these points.

  22. Underdawg says:

    In 2006, UO Law was ranked #69 (31 spots higher than today) when this happened:


    UO Law has never recovered.

  23. One thing I often say to people when they approach me with various drama is, “I’m not involved.”

    Honestly, I have no dog in this fight and I simply wish for the best outcome of everyone involved. I think many people have made valid points in these comments.

    But, as only a practical matter, if I was a law professor, as Professor Illig is, then I would file for a “Unit Clarification” before the the state ERB to allow for law professors to be in the faculty bargaining unit. Though, that might not make you many friends amongst your colleagues in the law school, but you would probably win the case and Admin wouldn’t be allowed to take away your pay increases in the future.

    Ultimately, we all make trade-offs and are forced to pick our battles. Going before the ERB for Unit Clarification is certainly a battle that you could win. But, would you want to?

  24. Heath Hutto says:

    Is the average salary among AAU Public Peers for Assistant Professors ($136,900) really higher than the AAU Public average for Associate Professors ($133,200), or is that a typo in the table?

  25. uomatters says:

    These data are from http://ir.uoregon.edu/salaries. This sort of inversion is not that rare.

  26. Subsidies and Taxes says:

    This year UO’s general fund (i.e. undergraduate tuition) paid about $2M to subsidize the law school’s overall $16M budget. Brad Shelton’s new version of the budget model is clawing back some of this money and raising JH’s internal tax rate. Add in the law school’s decision to cut admissions to try and maintain student quality, and you have the funding crisis that leads to these proposed pay freezes. The fellowship program is not the main issue.


  27. Anon says:

    Time for Moffitt to step down

  28. Who is still going to law school? Listen to this law professor. He thinks he is owed a six-figure salary. Where does this salary come from? Horrifically naive law students who sign up for huge loans because they think a law degree will lead to a strong career. News flash: it most likely won’t.

    When top schools like UVA, Michigan, Cornell, UCLA, GW, USC, etc. are hiring their own law grads because they can’t find jobs, there’s a serious problem. There are far too many law school graduates. If you don’t believe me, check out the 2013 ABA employment stats that were recently released and check out UO’s numbers. It’s not pretty. Also understand that going solo or working for a firm with 10 or fewer lawyers likely means financial suicide but also HUGE hours.

    Don’t go to law school. You’re only supporting the lifestyle of people like Robert C. Illig. It’s HIGHLY unlikely he would be earning seven figures in an M&A practice btw. That practice area is dead and it’s been dead since 2008.

    If you’re thinking about going to law school, research the debt and salary outcomes of law school grads. It’s a scam. Very few law school grads get good jobs. You should only go to law school if (a) you get into Harvard, Yale, or Stanford (still wouldn’t pay full price); (b) you get a full scholarship; or (c) you have a parent/relative who can guarantee you a legal job. Otherwise, you’re just gambling with your future. Plenty of my law school classmates lives with their parents in their late 20s and early 30s with $150-250,000 in debt. Law school is a horrific investment for many people and it can seriously destroy your life.

  29. James says:

    Hey Bob,

    Your students go into severe debt to enter a saturated job market to pay your six figure salary. I don’t think people are mad at you for gripping about the way in which the raise was changed or the manner in which it is being spent. However, given that many of your students will be indentured servants to the Sallie Mae and will regret their choice to enter this dying field, it’s rather poor taste to say you’ve given anyone charity.

    If anything, your students are paying you for a worthless piece of paper that won’t be worth much to a large number of them so that you can teach 2 classes and write on topics that interest you while enjoying the job security that comes with tenure–where’s the real “charity” here?

  30. Stan says:

    If this Prof. truly believes that he can make more elsewhere, he should leave. According to Leiter and Prawfs Blawg, this is the worst year on record for law faculty hiring. In an economic environment where schools are offering faculty buyouts across the board, he would be doing OU a favor by going elsewhere. Either way, not exactly a conducive environment to be asking for a raise.

    Basically, the same market that has been terrorizing law grads for the better part of a decade has finally reached the ivory tower. Apparently Bob here finds the results distasteful. Welcome to the club.

    • Stan says:

      Follow up:

      I posit to you that OU could mandate to Bob here that he is going to take a 20% pay cut or be fired. I’ll bet you Bob’s $1mm in foregone income that he accepts the pay cut and doesn’t say another word because, deep down, he knows what is waiting for him outside the Academy. They all do.

      Hint: it is not a raise.

  31. repudiatethedean says:

    I ask one simple question. If the football team fell as disastrously in the rankings as the law school, wouldn’t duck fans rally to have the head coach summarily dismissed?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes they would. And if they do with this Dean, as they should, it’ll probably come out just like a football coach — a golden parachute and full pay for being a loser.

  32. ichininosan says:

    Prospective Oregon students should visit lawschooltransparency to learn more about the morbid employment prospects and stratospheric debt that Oregon law grads face. It will provide some added context on this well-paid professor and his disdain for helping these graduates with HIS MONEY. There you will learn that through tuition increases over the past five years more than twice the rate of inflation, the cost of attendance is now $43,498 per year, for in-state residents. This would be bad news even if graduates were landing six-figure jobs at large law firms. But they’re not. Data submitted to the ABA indicates that for the class of 2013, at nine months after graduation, only 9 out of 151 graduates found jobs in big firms or as federal judicial clerks. It gets worse. Only 71 graduates found full time jobs as lawyers at all (excluding those who claim to be solo practitioners). Given the debt load and the dim employment picture you can understand why the school wants to help the graduates out. After all, these faculty salaries are paid for by those students’ massive student loans.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe he left a job where he was definitely going to make millions. And to leave it in order to only make 6 figures and set his own schedule and research agenda. I think the Nobel Peace Prize committee will be calling very soon

  34. Pingback: OK, now you really cannot be serious - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

  35. aegis says:

    Speaking as a UO Law alumni, the greatest gift the school could give its graduates would be to shut its doors for the next 10 years.

    The supply of desperate, indebted lawyers vastly outstrips available jobs. Young attorneys lucky enough to find legal jobs have no negotiating power to demand better pay and benefits (which have been stagnate for years).

    Fuck UO Law, Willamette, Lewis & Clark, and every other enclave of overpaid, over-privileged, white-collar con artists masquerading as institutes of higher learning. Pretend lawyers pretending to teach law is not worth six figures of debt.

    For the love of God, don’t go to law school.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      Which one of you is typing that? Or are you, in fact, singular?

    • chuck says:

      +1000. You can take your point further and include the undergrad administrative con artists, who use idiotic 17-18 year olds, and their equally guileless parents, as pigeon drop victims, in order to scam them for tens of thousands of $$$. Point being, if undergrad and law school debt is aggregated, these kids are coming away with $100-200 thousand in unmitigatable debt. All the while, the aholes who vote for increased tuition get paid to do next to nothing….

  36. Dupednontraditional says:

    Holy shiatsu, is Illig for real? That self -aggrandizing comment should be Exhibit A for what is wrong with the Law School Cartel. Delusions of granduer, much?

    With that much sociopathy, who need enemies?

    0Ls, non-trads, flee for your lives. The LawProfs are clearly losing their sanity.

    • uomatters says:

      It appears that the majority of the law school agreed to a pay freeze to help their students. Good for them.

      • ugh says:

        I love how enthusiastic UOMatters is about this idea. Why not get the Econ dept to do the same, say, to fund SAIL? If our Law colleagues were in the union, this would never have happened–and UOMatters is a union booster too. Is this just about sticking it to the IAC chair he hates??

        • Anon says:

          The economics department started SAIL and continues to suport it. (Actually, it was UOM who started it.)

          • UO Matters says:

            I helped start SAIL, it never would have worked without the volunteer efforts of a lot of other people. We’re now mostly funded by a private donor and UO’s diversity office. This year we’ll have maybe 100 faculty and staff volunteers, and 240 local HS students. PSU has also started a SAIL program, and will have 60 or so students. The UO law school has its own similar, and very excellent program, though it is not exclusively focused on low SES kids like SAIL is.

  37. Kevin says:

    “I feel that having given up the chance at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students. . . .”

    Wow. Imagine what his classroom must be like – merely being in this guy’s presence is a gift from him to you. Every day.

  38. Concerned says:

    Dean Moffitt recently sent out an alumni email discussing the rankings and employment issues. His general message: the rankings are BS and Oregon shouldn’t play the game. Then a few weeks later he is actively attempting to game the rankings by artificially boosting the employment numbers. A few words about these proposed student jobs:

    1. They’re not usually given out in a purely merit-based way. Students that are involved with specialty programs (particularly ADR, because this is Oregon) are given the jobs due to connections with faculty and admin members. This does nothing to improve the prospects of the many students who went to law school to learn actual lawerying skills and tried to make their own way in the legal world rather than spend three years hanging around the coattails of the faculty.

    2. These ‘jobs’ pay very little and frequently do nothing to propel the students into functional legal careers. At times they have been stopgaps; more frequently they just pipeline students into non-legal roles at the University or lead nowhere. Individual results aside, these jobs are very much about gaming the rankings because they’re meant to fool applicants into thinking that Oregon Law is producing more lawyers when in fact the Law School is producing fewer practicing attorneys than ever.

    3. Oregon Law has embarrassed itself, again. We seem to be averaging some kind of humiliation every 1.5 semesters or so. The tenor of Professor Illig’s is admittedly not something to be proud of and few will weep for an affluent professor making $140K/yr in a very low cost-of-living area, but his points concerning the degraded nature of the Law School are very valid and should not be dismissed. Oregon Law is now riddled with institutional problems, and this newest ‘job creation’ scheme is indicative of how the admin’s priorities have become profoundly unbalanced. Illig asks a very important question: how can this Law School expect that it will attract high quality faculty in the future?

  39. JHG says:

    This is from the UO website, presented without comment:

    Professor Illig earned his JD from Vanderbilt University, which he attended tuition-free as a John W. Wade Scholar.

  40. Sam Dotters-Katz, ASUO Presidento says:

    For what it’s worth, Rob Illig is a great professor, very dedicated to his students. He is working hard to help so many of us find jobs, and to expand the scope of our education here at UO Law. I am sure most of the folks attacking him here have never met him.

    The argument here shouldn’t be about Professor Illig, it should be about whether or not this plan is good for UO Law and law students.

    • JHG says:

      mmm, I think he kinda made it about himself, and his many sacrifices.

    • anon says:

      For what it’s worth, Sam Dotter-Katz still needs Rob Illig to get him a job, ’cause that’s the kind of thing they do for each other over there.

  41. YoloMike says:

    Witness the selective deployment of the Free Market Principle:

    1) UO must pay law professors a wage commensurate with comparator institutions and lateral career paths (private practice).

    2) But if there is a massive oversupply of JDs, this fact should in no way diminish the subsidy paid by taxpayers/other parts of the university/gullible students to law schools.

    Heads you win, tails you win! Must be nice.

    • sogood says:

      Nailed it! Absolutely elegant!

      The “winning” is over for the entire legal educational industry. They’re behemoths, they’re speeding air craft carriers, trying to turn on a dime, and too late.

      The market may show up fashionably late, but she damn sure shows up. This entitled crappola!

      Oh aren’t they all so entitled…to state funding (as if it weren’t raised off the backs of people who make way less money than Prof. Illig), to student loans, and to price-competitive marketplaces “for me but not for thee.”

      After all, law school is a monopolized barrier to entry to the law profession, funded with easy credit.

      I’m sure heir professor fancies himself a Marxist like so many other academics, but the funny thing is Marx wouldn’t have tea with these bastards.

  42. adamb says:

    This lawprof could be swapped out for almost anyone and it would not effect the career outcomes of the students. And if he has such marketable talents, throw the bum out and let him pursue these lucrative paths.

    Anyone else who sent selfish emails like this to all of his coworkers, leading to a leak and terrible publicity during financially difficult times, would get fired immediately.

    Illig, most of your students have no luxurious tenure protections, six figure salaries, and pay raises. Your complaints sound so out of touch that you should go stand beside your beloved students in the unemployment line for just a week and see how long you last.

    Your teaching has no effect on job outcomes. It has little effect on even preparing your students for the bar exam. And it has nothing to do with preparing them for law practice and for the harsh world of struggling in low-paying jobs that cannot ever come close to repaying mortgage-sized debt.

    Your greed and sense of entitlement is disgusting. Your posturing about knowing what is best for your students is disingenuous. I cannot imagine someone from my generation throwing a public tantrum over not getting an expected raise.

  43. Illig retired to academy after false start. says:

    And this is the idiot who called UOMs out for his conduct on the IAC? Are you serious? If there was any doubt about that whole mess before, it’s been put right now.

    • QuackAttack says:

      He also had a hand in things that have cost the school lots of revenue. In comparison to what his “summer institute” is likely to clear, the cost is perhaps on an economy of scale similar to that 7-figures/6-figures comparison of which he is fond.

  44. yeah you're underpaid says:

    Perspective: a combined household income of $115,000 per year puts that household in the top 1% of income earners in the USA at present. So, if you think you can do better in the private sector, leave the school. You teach business law but you can’t make a rational economic decision? Your income is debt-financed courtesy of destroyed lives and Uncle Sam. Best of luck to you, Professor Illig, in your endeavor to be so charitable.

    • Hold on a second... says:

      Quick fact check on U.S. household income percentiles (as of 2011, at least):


      This suggests that a combined household income of $115,000 would be top 16% or so.

      To be in the top 1% requires in excess of $250,000 of combined household income.

      This doesn’t change the nature of the present discussion in any way. I just prefer that any factoids referenced be accurate. (Or better yet, accurate and sourced!)

      • adamb says:

        He and his wife, who also seems to work in the public sector, receive enough taxpayer dollars to place them in the top one percent.

        From on high, it is always easy to look down upon the starving masses and tell them to eat cake, or in this case, he is telling us to aim our anger at the “right people” whomever those people may be and to try to earn as much money as him instead of trying to pull him down to our level (or something like that). I guess his advice assumes that there is infinite money in the economy for all people to live as high on the hog as he has via taxpayer funded jobs.

        • anon says:

          While I am not going to google-stalk his wife, and while I agree with your sentiment, I don’t think taxpayers are contributing much to his salary. Isn’t it the disparity between his salary and the tuition-based debt of recent graduates the main issue?

    • Anas Clypeata says:

      Let’s not get carried away. $115K gets you into the top 10-15% in the US. To get into the top 1% income bracket takes more like $400K per year.

      The former is two parents working, making $60K each, nice house, good schools (for a price), donate to United Way, save for college and retirement, all needs met money. The latter is go-down-to-the-corner-store-and-buy-yourself-a-Tesla-Model-S money, at least in Oregon.

      Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101025377

  45. William says:

    It seems to me obvious that this prof is one public employee the tax payers could do without. UO’s Law School dean should send him packing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong. He deserves a raise to $1 million.

      • Fishwrapper says:

        That kind of sarcasm does not translate well into text typed into the interwebs…

      • JackieChiles says:

        Exactly. Law schools must be able to pay enough to lure talented attorneys away from top law firms. The only way to do so is to pay law professors what they imagine they’d be worth in an alternate reality.

  46. JustinP says:

    This professor is what is wrong with legal education. A bunch of pretentious, self-absorbed, delusional adults that are so out of touch with their own students.

    Law schools stress the importance of public interest, yet they don’t acknowledge they are detrimental to the public interest. Their institutions are pumping out JD’s with little value into a market that has fewer jobs.

    I guess he has a point though, even his raise won’t save his students from debt enslavement.

  47. SomeGuy says:

    The JDUnderground site is also very interested in what Prof Ilig has been doing:


  48. Chime in says:

    Illig is also featured in a new Law School Lemmings post: http://lawlemmings.tumblr.com/post/82847166696/which-law-professor-is-the-most-repugnant

    I hope Prof. Illig understands we’re not only against law professors, we’re against law school deans and admins, and the entire legal education complex. It’s corrupt. It lies. It scams students out of millions of dollars and destroys lives by saddling them with enormous non-dischargeable loans.

    The ONLY reason many, if not most, people go to law school is to improve their lot in life. Law schools routinely advertise high starting salaries for graduates. This attracts applications and students, naturally. The only problem: these salary and job numbers are based on deception. A small sliver of graduates might land a high-paying job. Almost everyone else has to fend for themselves. The law schools play games with the stats, and Prof. Illig knows this all to well.

    They advertise 90% employed 9 months after graduation. Does that 90% number only include lawyer jobs? Hell no! It includes coffee shop minions, waiters, and bartenders with huge law school debt! It includes students who the law school directly hires in order to game the U.S. News ranking. That’s what Illig is so angry about. The law school wants to use some money to pay graduates for “fellowships” (read: low-grade researcher and coffee fetcher) so these desperate, indebted grads will be reported as “employed” to the U.S. News. Illig would prefer that the money go into his own pockets. He’s already sacrificed so much by walking away from a million-dollar M&A gig in NYC. It’s uncanny how he walked away from that amazing job at the 7-year mark. I can’t imagine why that would be. Does anything happen at the 7-year mark? Bueller? Bueller? Anywho, back to our regularly schedule programming.

    It’s hilarious to watch the law schools squirm. They’ve destroyed lives. People can’t get married. They can’t buy homes. They can’t buy cars. They have to live with their parents. They only took on debt to go to law school because they believed the lies of the law school industry. They’re thieves and as Illig amply demonstrates, they’re greedy as hell and just as greedy as the Koch brothers or whoever else is the subject of the progressive Two Minutes Hate these days.

    THANK YOU to UO Matters for posting these emails. And thank you to Prof. Illig for showing your true colors. Of course, you know law grads are getting fleeced by the law school industry. You know lives are being destroyed by law school debt. But you just want your money. You only want the parameters of the debate limited to “comparators” and other institutions. Screw that. The entire system is corrupt and it’s crumbling.

    The law school industry is built upon sand and the irrefutable truth of market forces are about to sweep this con job out to see.

    If you’re thinking about law school and you think it’s a good idea, you just haven’t done enough research.

    • huh? says:

      I’m confused by the outrage here exhibited by so many law students/former law students. Were you drafted into the law school? Forced at gunpoint? Or just had big dreams of that million dollar salary that Illig walked away from? Made a career choice based on watching TV instead of research? The entitlement among the disgruntled posting here is kinda shocking. UOM feeds them Illig as a punching bag (or Illig offers himself, admittedly) and it’s mayhem. Who can kick hardest and hit the most? Have fun, but it’s hard to feel sorry for you lot.

      • Sarcasm? Or sar-chasm? says:

        Oh, shooor, ur write, tis the fault of them dumb students who believe law schools claiming a 94% employment rate when (in actuality, as we’ve only learned from about 2012 grads on) it’s more like 50% (or, for places like UO, more in the 40s).

        Of course it’s all their fault. Those bastions of respectability who lied, lied, lied, lied, lied (and still LIE – see Erwin’t NYT OpEd) have no responsibility in the matter.


      • answet says:

        People are outraged because law schools lie and mislead about the job and salary outcomes of their graduates. Law schools advertise $130-160,000 salaries as the median starting salary when nothing could be further from the truth. All of the law schools until recently were in on the game and you can’t expect someone to know that every single school was lying. Only recently, the ABA began requiring more comprehensive disclosure of job outcomes. This happened after multiple law schools were sued. Law schools act as if lots of opportunities await for grads but when they finish school, the few available jobs pay very low or there are no jobs at all. By that point, the student’s life has been destroyed. It’s basically a very sophisticated and complex false advertising and fraudulent inducement scheme. Would you hold the same cavalier attitude about Bernie Madoff’s bilked investors? Where do you suggest law school grads who have had their lives destroyed should do research?

        The disgusting thing about the law school industry is that the law schools know exactly what goes on. If you’re not in the top 20% of grads, your screwed unless you have preexisting connections. I take full responsibility for my horrific decision to attend law school. I read many books about law school, hung around the worthless Top Law Schools Forum (where admissions deans prowl and prey on applicants BTW) and talked to many lawyers. It wasn’t enough. My life has been financially destroyed by law school. I thought if I didn’t get a 160k big law job, there would be a 70-90k job in the middle (I went to a pretty good school – usually ranks 15 to 20). Nope! Its BigLaw or bust. 160k or 40k. Hours are similar but the boss at the 40k job might be more of a sociopath. Law school wouldn’t have financially destroyed my life if the tuition wasn’t so expensive. Why is it expensive? People like Illig and his greed. Illig and his ilk are no different from some republican corporate oligarch except their salaries are financed explicitly and directly by destroying young naive lives.

        • SomeGuy says:

          Agree with all but the GOP reference.

        • huh? says:

          I’m sorry, but I followed this until it feel apart at this end. How does this giant scam that all law schools were in on, such that it wasn’t even possible to suss out because everyone was complicit in the game, boil down to being the fault of “guys like Illig and his greed.” If everyone’s in on it then you should be saying, “gals like Margie Paris and her greed”, and “Michael Moffitt and his greed”, and “every single member of every law faculty everywhere and their greed, except those nice faculty at UO who tried to make it look like they cared about students when they were just trying to salvage their scam and stay employed before Illig blew up–and their greed.”
          Anyone paying any attention to the news these days know that law schools are all in crisis, that the job market is lousy, that students loans (at every level) are often crushing–but this smacks of pretty irrational conspiracy theorizing and, frankly, foaming at the mouth. Illig isn’t at issue here; he’s just an excuse for venting your rage. Vent away, but let’s be clear on that. Maybe you just didn’t read the fine print about the data set and methodology for their placement statistics.

          • JD = Just Debt says:

            I don’t think the commenter is alleging some nonsense Fake Moon Landing conspiracy theory. I think the scam worked more like this:

            1) top law schools claimed their grads were regularly making $160,000 after graduation. these numbers were likely fudged more than a bit.
            2) seeing the amount of applications and students the salary and job numbers attracted, law schools further down the rankings ladder gradually began to edge up their reported salary numbers.
            3) this continued until schools ranked below 50 began reporting six-figure salaries for graduates. these numbers were more than fudged. they may have only surveyed a small portion of the graduates and acted as if it was a representative sample for the entire class.

            It’s not a scam so much as it’s market behavior based on greed. The federally-backed guarantee of near unlimited sums of students loans has stripped the law school industry of acocuntability for student outcomes. It’s more like gas stations raising their prices after seeing the gas station across the street can charge $0.10 more per gallon and still attract customers. If the gas stations colluded on price, it would be illegal price fixing but since the price is publicly advertised, it’s perfectly legal for gas station A to raise its prices to match gas station B. I don’t think there was some grand conspiracy of law school deans and professors to collectively lie about graduate salaries and jobs. I just think they saw an opportunity for ill-gotten gains and seized it.

            They saw law schools advertising huge salaries and ridiculous percentages of employed graduates and so they copied their competitors. The amount of applications a law school receives is public data and it’s closely scrutinized by people who work for law schools. They want more applications, they want more students, and they want higher tuition. These things are indisputable based upon the legal education industry’s behavior over the past decade.

            Just listen to the Brooklyn Law School dean’s recent interview on CNBC. He speaks of the law school as if it’s a real estate investment trust (sold off assets blah blah blah debt rating blah blah blah revenue stream etc.). Law school is just a business and like any business you need incentives to attract customers. The incentive for law school is the ability to earn a higher wage after you buy a law degree. When the law schools start lying and misleading about the incentives, things get tricky. As others have noted (look up the law review paper entitled “Law Deans in Jail”), there are a variety of criminal legal theories that may be applied to law school deans and those who decide law school policy – fraud being a core factor.

            Prof. Illig may not set law school policy personally, but it’s his complete lack of appreciation for broader market forces and the broad swathe of professors and deans who have similar mindsets that has got the law school industry in the mess it’s in. Illig wants more money. I think he sees the Oregon scheme for what it is – a method to artificially boost the employed stats that Oregon Law reports to U.S. News so it can limit any further ranking losses. The scheme may have a side benefit of helping some law school graduates avoid the soup kitchen, but that’s not the program’s core purpose. If the U.S. News ceased to weigh percentage employed at graduation as part of its rankings formula, how fast do you honestly think Oregon Law would phase out the program?

            Illig thinks he deserves a top 1% salary to teach law school students. These law school are paying grossly inflated tuition and fees because they foolishly believe a JD will lead to a solid career and job opportunities. They only think this because the law school industry provides extremely misleading data and statistics. Read Chemerinsky’s disgusting column in the New York Times for a great example of the outright shilling and obfuscation that are the standard playbook tactics of the law school industry. If you think the employment statistics provided by Chemerinsky are insightful and prove anything, you need to do some more reading.

            To those who say, “You didn’t do your research” or “Why would you take out that much debt?” I ask: where should one have done research? BLS? NALP? Other law schools? Lawyers? Other law professors? During the period of 2007 to 2009, where would one have discovered that the law schools are lying through their teeth about the salaries of law school graduates and the percentage who were employed?

      • liesandthelyingliarswhotellthem says:

        You make an excellent point! We should focus on what one can discover through research…or leaked e-mails.

        We focus on the fact that the faculty of Oregon just approved a FRAUD: paying third parties to *temporarily* employ graduates in order to pretend those positions are not school-funded, for explicit purpose of gaming the US News & World Report rankings in order to induce the attendance of prospective students.

        FRAUD-ON-THE-MARKET. Maybe sooner or later the feds will show up and sue the schools, since the feds are the ones left holding the bag from this fraud.

        • huh? says:

          Now this I can agreed with! Illig, the ostensible villain, proves to be the one responsible (even if this were by no means his chief intention) for revealing the trickery-masked-as-altruism.

      • another observer says:

        “The entitlement among the disgruntled posting here is kinda shocking.”

        Not really because that’s the prevailing “truth” that so many function from today. No need to castigate UOM for reprinting as Illig did it to himself and is getting called out for it.

        However, the real issue still is THE PROCESS, or lack of it, that caused this eruption. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE over HOW this came about ??

      • Dupednontraditional says:

        Ah yes, 8:29 chimes in right on cue with the tired, old, “nobody forced you to go to law school” argument. Like we’ve never heard that one before, or that that brilliant “legal theory” hasn’t been thoroughly debunked.

        Nobody forced Illig to go to Vanderbilt for free, either, but he went. Nobody forced the lol skools to blatantly lie in their employment statistics for decades, but they did. Nobody forced the skools to raise tuition at four times the rate of inflation for decades, but they did. Everybody was doing it, you see.

        But who cares, this will all fall on deaf ears anyway. Boomer law profs gonna boom.

  49. Pingback: Law Professor Outraged By Plan To Use His Raise To Fund Jobs For ... | RocketNews

  50. Redistribution for Thee, Not Me! says:

    Illig, you say it’s not “fair” that someone else decide whether you get a raise? That your job performance corresponds to financial incentives! Good God, man. Is Ayn Rand your heroine? Are you, dare I ask, a conservative?! And what’s up with your crude white-man’s-guilt reference? Surely you’re not a racist tea-partier, too!

    Deciding what’s “fair” for everyone else is the leftist way, sir. You and your ilk hate on the 1% — they make too much money; it’s not FAIR! “You didn’t build that!” — but you dissemble and despair when your “spread-the-wealth” ideology spreads around your own wealth.

    Now you know how people felt when they discovered their health insurance premiums were hiked up to subsidize poorer folks. It’s not “fair.” And it will never be fair as long as the central planners make the “fair” call.

    Sorry, but the irony in all of this is just too delicious.

  51. Neil says:

    Professor Illig, your comments are simply astounding and the backlash to them completely deserved. I flailed around in private practice for well over a decade, longer than you did, before also doing what you ultimately did: landing a plush government job. Apparently you’ve deluded yourself into forgetting that the book of business it requires to earn $1 million in Biglaw comes with an extraordinary price: your health, your mental well-being, your family life, your social life, and your intellectual interests outside the office. Not only must you sacrifice all of those things, forever, but even then your marketability as a rainmaker depends purely on factors largely outside your control. Did you even have a book approaching the needed size? I doubt it.

    To reach your delusional $1 million salary, you have to not only jump through all of those thick layers of very dubious assumptions, but you also have to ignore the heavy cost paid by all who live the Biglaw rainmaking lifestyle. Apparently, since you think you are engaged in an act of charity, that cost is not even a factor worth considering. But we all know that you’re lying to yourself. Academia attracts law firm attorneys with strong credentials and high salaries because it can. The world is driven by economic incentives and law professors are not the exception to the rule. Giving up the horrendous lifestyle mandated by the billable hour for a plush public sector position is, contrary to your misinformation, a rational decision. And it’s a rational decision that almost any attorney in his right mind will make if given the opportunity.

  52. Fishwrapper says:

    I have enjoyed every last drop of this thread tonight. Thank you, UO Matters, and all who make this such a wonderful space. I look forward to an unproductive day tomorrow…

    • epilogue says:

      Sleep tight, fishwrapper. You’re on the cusp of realizing productivity isn’t the metric for which to judge the day! Liberation soon to follow.

  53. chuck says:

    Twenty seven ABA law schools exist within the three states comprising the West Coast. Let’s say that on average they churn out 50 grads per year, every year. 1350 law grads/year, 6750 for the last five years. Is there any evidence that over seven thousand legal careers have been created in the last five years? I would suggest that is the minimum needed in order for LS grads to have a job offer prior to graduation, that a micro demand exists for each of that micro supply.

    To answer the question, hell no, otherwise, law schools would have no need to cook the employment numbers, which has been proven they do by Prof. Campos’ research. Given that, why would Robert ilig get paid what he claims would be his putative worth, regardless of wherever it is he chooses to practice? If there isn’t a increasing demand for UO grads, then there is no justification to consider increasing Iligs salary, the institution he labors for isn’t turning out graduates that anyone wants or needs.

    This is way too simple, the supply of LS grads has far exceeded any actual demand for their services. The overarching point is that universities have lied to their students, parents, anyone, that there are careers after graduation. The reality is that we’re in a Depression, this one being the seventh in US history. That fact, that very critical fact, has been ignored, or papered over, by the university administrators, because it would mean the end of their sinecures. If Iligs continues yapping about his salary, despite the larger context of increasingly more desperate graduates, of whatever stripe, falling into loan default, without informing his students about the true situation regarding their futures, then he, and all his other law school buddies, should be shown the door….

  54. O'Connor says:

    It was probably wrong of the majority to vote away everybody’s raise. Instead, perhaps each professor should be allowed to surrender their own raise. No more sham process for cutting raises. No more moral high ground for Mr. Illig.

  55. Anon says:

    As a law professor at another school, I am quite frankly disgusted to see a legal academic behaving in such a petulant and entitled manner. I hope Prof. Illig is happy at Oregon as I doubt any other school would ever hire him as a result of this, what I consider to be, egregious lapse in good judgment.

    • Anono says:

      Hey, hey. We don’t want to keep him.
      I’m working on a great reference for him as we speak. Bottom line is that I can’t say enough good things about him.

  56. Note to Self says:

    Never write an email that proposes any idea other than that accepted by a majority of the world population. For that email discussion will appear in “journalism” that is the sub-culture of blogging. Also, note to self, never have any discussions with colleagues with recording devices nearby of any type.

  57. Leporello says:

    This is so compelling that I just took the laptop into the toilet with me so I could keep reading. Thank you Bill and Bob!

  58. Observer says:

    I don’t get all the vitriol. A law professor makes less than the market norm, in a university which pays less than the market norm in every field. A raise is on the horizon. Suddenly the chance of the raise is taken away without consultation or warning. But he “deserves” this because — because there are too many lawyers? Because they feel duped that they went to law school and now the field is crowded? (Incidentally, many of my students apply to law school. I try to talk each one out of it. I show them the statistics about unemployment. They all reply that they’ve heard about the unemployment rates but they’re going to be the exception. Then they enroll. I’m not that sympathetic to protests of “We were duped! How could we have known?) He doesn’t deserve market rates because most people in the country have lower-paying jobs? He doesn’t deserve market rates becaus academics are overpaid anyway?

    I hope most of the commenters are not academics, because the argument applies to us too. I’m paid $65,000 for a job at which my peers at other state universities elsewhere in the country are making $110,00-$125,000. You bet I don’t like the argument that “You’re making more than those of us in other jobs! And some of us are unemployed! So you don’t deserve the market rate! In fact you deserve less! And all those higher-paid professors are overpaid too! And I despise them! Plus their students can’t get jobs because the liberal arts are bunkum! You should all be out of a job!” Seriously, is this the kind of argument we’re defending? The “pull everybody down to the lowest common denominator and only those in selfless social work jobs deserve decent salaries” argument?

    You can bet that I, like many of my colleagues, are applying for those outside jobs. The structure of academe makes it very hard to get a new job after tenure. In my field, only 1 of 40 jobs advertised this year accepted post-tenure applicants. This is one of few reasons that Oregon retains its low-paid faculty. Meanwhile, “you don’t deserve market rates, so put up and shut up” isn’t likely to be an argument that dissuades any faculty from leaving the university.

    • adamb says:

      Well, most people in higher education these days harm their students more than they help them since most of the students are debt-funding degrees that have minimal effect on their long-term ability to become a middle-class worker.

      The greed of the universities — professors, deans, and administrators alike — have turned higher education into nothing but a diluted diploma mill and a financial black hole.

      So forgive us for not giving a crap about your petty salary problems. Those salaries come from destroyed young lives.

      • protectionsim for thee! says:

        Yes, sir, Illig wants to talk about what he’s “worth.” Okay, adjuncts teach for 5k/class. At 3 classes per semester, if Illig weren’t protected from competition by tenure, his fair market value would be $15,000./ per year.

        Sorry, but 1L contracts…anyone, including many students could teach that course. 1L torts…PLEASE! 1L anything…

        Most adjuncts I had were way, way, way better than the tenured faculty.

    • Observer says:

      I’m not sure what the answer to this is — should we teach only those who show that they come from enough wealth to pay full tuition themselves? I’m dismayed to hear that your life was destroyed by going to college. Perhaps part of the problem is that college is positioned as a vocational degree that will let students start farther up the ladder than an entry-level job. That’s not what I tell my students — I try to emphasize that even with the skills you get from earning a BA, you’ll need to start at the bottom and work your way up. So it’s the debt that has ruined your life? In a number of countries, taxes fund college students’ education. Oregon has voted that less than 10% of a public university education should be funded by the taxpayer. That does leave a heavy debt on students’ backs. I’m not sure how paying salaries that leave us only the professors who can’t get jobs elsewhere solves the problem. What is your pragmatic suggestion for keeping other students from ruining their lives?

      • chuck says:

        You pointed out that the state of OR funds less than 10% of their public university tuition. But why are taxpayers responsible for the massive increase in administrative overhead, to fund the pensions and perks for those that neither teach nor do research? Why should the taxpayer fund the creation of the most expensive basketball arena in the US, and no, Phil Knight didn’t pay for it, despite what the U of O wants you to think. The bulk of project is funded by way of public debt, as if the massive waste of the Student Recreation Center, the millions going to towards remodeling and refurbishing of every other building on campus. The public unis keep yapping about the state not giving them enough money to run their institutions, but those same unis keep demanding more and more money for things that don’t have any academic benefit, but are used to fund ridiculous salaries of people who do nothing, or to pay Wall Street money temples, who are the guys who get paid to put together the public debt subscriptions. Not my problem, and it goes to show just how worthless our college administration has become, as well as out Faculty Senates, that have failed to condemn the scam.

    • Anonymous says:

      You seem to assume, as does Illig, that he would have certainly gotten a merit raise, which is false. You don’t get a “warning” or consultation before you get a merit raise.

      • Observer says:

        But now he has no chance of getting one. That’s demoralizing in itself, as well as no way to encourage excellence among faculty.

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  60. jeo says:

    Translation of Illig’s statement: Let them eat cake.

  61. Publius says:

    Looming over all this, I think, is one question:

    What does the U of O administration intend to do about the law school?

    Will it continue to devote millions of dollars in general funds to support professors who teach little, publish little, and instruct students that have no prospect of employment, yet go massively into debt?

    The law school seems incapable of saving itself. It can’t even develop a credible undergrad program, something other law schools, like Berkeley, did long ago. This would address some of its financial problems, but the law faculty can’t be bothered. (It took them five years just to identify–this winter–two faculty to lead such an initiative.) Its students just did a great program on legal issues in sports last week, but the law school did nothing to advertise it, and its own faculty ignored it.

    A much discussed article in the law school world last year said that 75% of law schools should probably be closed. The U of O probably cannot close its law school, but it might reduce its size by, say, 50%–something other law schools are in the process of doing.

    • Pantsless Santa says:

      UO has reduced its class by about 1/3 in the last couple years. Only major thing Moffitt’s done right, imho.

  62. Just an academic...now says:

    In advance, sorry for the typos:

    Observer has some good points. I graduated from college when the country was in the worst recession we had ever seen since the depression — until this one of course. I went to an excellent private school on the East Coast and majored in English (I bet you would say, “Of all the stupid things to major in; you deserved to have a hard time.”). When I went to school, the economy was fine but when I finished, it wasn’t. There were no jobs for bright college-educated students. I thought about becoming a lawyer, but the market was completely glutted. Nobody was hiring lawyers.

    I worked an administrative job running a very small law office; I worked in a clothing store selling women’s clothes; I bleached down toilets and tubs for a condominium redevelopment project; I scrapped paint off windows at the same project; I worked as a “gal Friday” at a watch retail chain that also owned the repair center for all Timex and Rolex watches. During my stint there, the company laid off all “non-essential personnel.” Because I had a liberal arts education, I ended up writing all the marketing pieces for the sales managers, working on the budgets for the company and figuring out what the commissions would be on our repair business. From that job I got a job as a “real” secretary in an actuarial consulting firm. When the actuary who hired me interviewed me, his first question was, “With your degree, your too qualified to work here.” But I convinced him. I was already an excellent typist, but again, with that liberal arts education, I became the “coordinator” for our word processing system, worked on payroll and started learning all about actuarial work and benefits because I began re-writing all the reports. That job led to me becoming an editor of business writing. Then I was recruited to build and head up a marketing unit in a very large office at one of the largest Human Resources consulting firms in the world. I was damn happy to have every single one of those jobs. In the course of ten years I went from being on food stamps to earning stock options in the parent company. In 1994, when I left consulting to go back to school for a master’s degree (and then a PhD), I made more than I make now as an Associate Professor (and now it’s 20 years later).

    What can I tell you from all this experience? I’ve worked very hard and had many successes. I know that getting a full-time tenure track job is not about who is the smartest or who is the best…that it has as much to do with luck and “fit” in the department as it did with my hard work in grad school, my interviewing skills, and the letters my writers wrote.

    Because I got so lucky to get this job, I want to make sure that my colleagues who are adjuncts don’t have to be on food stamps. I want my students to know that even if they can’t find a job in their field right now, they should just get a job…to pay the rent and put food on the table. Any and all skills that I acquired along the way (and many of them I would have never guessed would have been so important) have been important. One of the most important? Sticking it out and doing the work no matter what it takes or how much it hurts, no matter how ashamed I feel about it, no matter what people will say about me.

    I also know that money is important to me but feeling like I’m appreciated and that I have control over my destiny is more important. I have never worked a job at which I feel so unappreciated by the “higher ups” as I do here. In addition, the fact that I am paid the lowest of our 8 comparator institutions and about 9% below average of others in my field in the AAU makes me feel even more unappreciated….particularly when the admins keep hiring more admins at ever increasing salaries without any consequences if they do a bad job. If I were told that my raise was automatically going to anyone without my input, I would be even more upset — because that would mean the only tangible acknowledgement of all my hard work for all these years (without any before this) was taken away — I would have lost even the last remnant of “apparent” control over my destiny.

    Whatever anyone’s salary is at the UO, I still think he or she should be consulted before the “raise” is given to someone else. And to the recent grads of the law school, my heart goes out to you. As you know only too well, life is not fair. There will always be someone ahead of you and it will be difficult to notice the people behind you, but if you are willing to think creatively and take jobs that feel menial and that you think are below you now…what feels like humiliation now will be humility later and what seem like stupid skills now, I truly believe will be important assets later.

    There are many areas that need to be fixed on campus and we need to keep working at the solutions together. I think this idea was a good idea but once again, it seems UO failed miserably on consultation, getting advice and then buy-in, and being transparent…I swear, this place could really use a good marketing director….

  63. law school = career training says:

    It’s hard to feel sorry for law students. Science and humanities majors go to grad school for the love of their fields. It seems law students are in it purely for the money, not the love of law. I feel more sympathy for an English PhD who can not obtain an academic job than the loss of another lawyer. The former makes a bigger impact on the world.

    • Anon says:

      You realized that a high number of UO Law Grads go into public interest jobs, right? Almost certainly for the money I’m guessing.

  64. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    After a fairly long absence from these august pages, Uncle Bernie has been asked for his take on this world-shaking issue.

    Well, I’m supposed to call Obama about Ukraine, but first things first, I always say.

    Really, really hard for pore ol’ Uncle to know what to make of this unprecedented blizzard of comments mostly from people related to the UO law school, of which Uncle knows little.

    In this first place, I have to suspect that Professor Illig is a fictitious character, or a plant from a rival law school, or a prototype for a TV comedy, or something. How else to account for:

    “I feel that having given up the chance at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students, and I am particularly saddened by hungry children.”

    This is a very high level of satire, no doubt. No real faux benefactor of humanity could present this with a straight face, and few pretenders could even dream this up.

    What can I say? The market undoubtedly rules, until the ptichforks take over. I wish Professor Illig well. From 7 surething figs in New York to UO law school, if I understand correctly. I remember how it felt once skidding down a mountain face on my rear end. I hope he doesn’t get mad and head to set up a law practice in Roseburg or Grants Pass or even Cave Junction. Professor, we need you!

    But I’ll leave this whole issue up to Dean Mike and His Law Perfessers. Surely if they can make this clever feint to #100, they can handle the present crisis.

    Just don’t ask for any money from the Ducks, or CAS, or even Law benefactor Uncle Phil.

    And please don’t embarrass us with the AAU.

    That’s what I think!

  65. nobody says:

    Uncle B … great summation, and it’s not a surprise that your response hasn’t garnered any “law” responses, is it?

    With a wary glance, eye pantsless santa’s comment way up above (what kind of mind actually would offer ‘pantsless santa’ as even a blog name?) as evidence that not only has the world turned, it’s going selfishly dark one contract at a time.

  66. Dupednontraditional says:

    “As it turns out, Illig’s outrage was much ado about nothing. The UO law professors were informed by Dean Michael Moffitt Wednesday that the UO administration had nixed the idea of diverting faculty raises to student fellowships. ”


    False alarm, everyone, false alarm! I was worried that Illig and his fellow LawProfs would have to get by with less, but thank God sound reasoning and good judgment saved the day! And no gaming of the USNWR rankings, to boot! This is a win-win. Take the rest of the day off, everybody…!

    Wait…this may not be the best for the UO law graduates laboring under $150k+ of debt with no prospects. I guess that’s more of a “lose”.

    Oh well! Scholarship doesn’t pay for itself, you know! Ciao, baby!

  67. Academic Freedom to the rescue? says:

    Fortunately for Professor Illig, President Gottfredson just signed an academic freedom policy that covers his ad hominen rants about Dean Moffitt and the Law Fellowship program.

    Oh, wait, Gottfredson hasn’t signed that policy? Well, at least he’s protected by the faculty union CBA and the grievance process, and the union fought hard to keep out language requiring “respectful speech.”

    Oh, wait, the law school’s not in the bargaining unit? Uh-Oh.

  68. karim says:

    There’s something comforting about the fact that, even with a subject drawing numerous people who clearly consider themselves intelligent and well-spoken, the discourse can devolve to YouTube comment section levels very quickly. We’re all people!

    The criticisms are as varied as the people with personal axes to grind, but many comments seem to fall neatly into two categories: (1) You should feel lucky to have a job that pays just into six figures!; and (2) I wuz robbed law school is a guldurn lie!

    The first point is true, insofar as a six-figure-paying job is a pretty nice job to have. Both my parents’ incomes combined didn’t approach that when I was growing up. I wish they had. I like to think my folks are pretty okay, and that they probably deserved something close to six figures every year. Just for being aces! I borrowed over $110,000 for the pleasure (such as it was) of going to law school at Oregon, and I’m not making anywhere near $100,000 per year. The student loan payments make the monthly budget tight, for sure. I’d definitely like to make a six-figure salary. That’d be great. I’m missing the part where that’s Rob Illig’s problem. A lot of commenters suppose that the average person would like to have Rob Illig’s job. I sure would; I’m not qualified for it, though, so who gives a shit whether I want it or not? The question isn’t whether or not it’s a desirable position for people who don’t have the qualifications to acquire it. The question is, is it a desirable position for someone in Rob Illig’s situation?

    As for the second point: it’s unrelated to whether or not an employee should receive a modest raise to cover cost of living, but yeah, don’t go to law school. Many of us went. Many of us were warned, admittedly in vague terms, that debt would be the consequence of attendance. We went anyway. If you’re all Pollyanna about it, and you don’t do any independent research, you believe what is being spoon-fed to you by the institution which stands to gain from your attendance, then own it.

    The best measure Oregon undertook to address the oversaturation problem was to reduce incoming class sizes. That’s actually constructive toward preventing out-of-work recent graduates. Apart from that, it seems to me that the central thesis of Rob Illig’s email, which is lost in the self-satisfied smirking of “LOL look at this #1percenter over here!”, is that it might not be the professors’ responsibility to make up for the (very notable) failings of the Oregon career services department, or the administration, or the lawyer-spamming culture of law schools in general. That seems reasonable; out of all the participants in the legal framework, the professors (in my experience) were the ones actively doing right by their students. Why is it their responsibility to atone for the perceived sins of approximately everyone else involved?

    Actually, I’m approaching this all wrong. I would like Rob Illig’s job, please. I only have three years of legal experience and my instruction won’t help my students pass the bar. But those bennies…

    • yep says:

      beautifully done, Karim.

      • Karim'sFallacy says:


        You’re sadly mistaken on this point: “The best measure Oregon undertook to address the oversaturation problem was to reduce incoming class sizes.”

        Oregon, like many schools these days, did nothing to reduce incoming class sizes. Class sizes have reduced themselves, and Oregon, like most schools, is still trying (unsuccessfully) to catch up to this reality.

        Also, like most schools these days, without late surges in matriculation brokered by sweet deals, the enrollment numbers would be clean-out-your-desks-catastrophic rather than merely disastrous.

        Law schools simply offer all students a fishing license, and offer it to most of them at a six-figure cost that they’ll be paying off for the next 10-30 years. You’re not going to a trout pond; you’re going out to deep sea, and there is no guarantee of catching a fish.

        Sure, schools could have done a better job of putting (prospective) students on notice, and the ABA could have policed it better and insisted on greater transparency, but prospective students also have to conduct thorough research and realize what they’re actually buying.

  69. Eric Rasmusen says:

    Very good comment, Karim (comment just before this one). A phrase in the law school’s excuse for passing the resolution without notice caught my eye. It proposed

    “reallocating funds for proposed faculty merit raises toward student fellowships,”

    Not raises– *merit* raises. This sounds to me as if this was only the part of raises that went to the most productive faculty, not cost-of-living raises. In this excuse the excuse for the ambush agenda is even weaker: “A wide majority of those present voted to approve the resolution—in addition, a majority of the full faculty support the resolution.” As I read this (correct me if I’m wrong), this means that the less-productive majority of the faculty, including, especially, those who have nothing better to do than attend meetings, voted to deny raises to the more productive minority. How self-denying of them!
    An economics question for you: What effect does it have on productivity if the less productive people can vote to deny the more productive people wages? (Hint: look at the United Autoworkers)

  70. Anonymous says:

    Surely you jest.
    Faculty meetings are required as part of the JOB. If you don’t go, you are not doing part of your JOB.
    Assuming that going to faculty meetings means that you are “less-productive” doesn’t make any sense. The implication would be: don’t go to faculty meetings, don’t talk about the strategy and future of the school, abandon the self-governance that is inherent in the idea of a faculty since the middle ages.
    This kind of thinking is exactly why the present flame-up has happened: “No one is responsible.” “If you try to participate in goal-setting you are a less-productive loser.”
    All you accomplish is creating a power vacuum that, unless you have a strong Dean (not present in this case), creates tirades.

  71. Peer review says:

    Rob got his letters into the ABA Journal? That’s an impressive line on his vitae. This will have a big impact on his promotion case.

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