Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Summertime and the Living is Easy

I am not sure how many law professors expect some form of payment in the summer. Some fortunate folks bypass summer salary altogether. They may do little and they get paid an appropriate amount. The rest of us -- most I suspect -- find ways to fill in the salary gaps.

Aside from late career professors who teach in the summer to bump up retirement benefits, the most foolish ones are those who teach a regular summer course at their law school. Why? Because it's the hardest way to make a buck and it may interfere with what really determines future salary increases -- scholarship. Plus those fools may do it out of sense of obligation that is often not shared by their colleagues.

Still it seems silly for a School to allow an expensive facility to remain empty for three months especially if there are students who want to get on with their educations albeit with something less than full enthusiasm. At my school the theme of the call for summer volunteers is that everyone should take a turn. I would bet, however, that most schools are like mine and that a sense of duty to the community and even collegiality are absent when the call for summer teaching volunteers goes out. As I have written elsewhere, the privileged are kings and queens of free riding.

Then there are the "I will give you credit if you will travel to (fill in blank with your favorite summer destination) and pay my salary." Yes, the summer abroad programs. I concede they have their good points but mainly they make it possible for well-to-do students and some faculty to have both worlds -- vacation and pay (credit for students, salary for professors). It's fun, right? And there is nothing wrong with fun unless it means the fools back home are teaching 80 students while the vacation teachers are sipping wine with 20 or so.

And then there is the research grant. Somehow the premise of the research grant is the untested proposition that one cannot teach and do research at the same time. People get hired by claiming the opposite. Presumably, research grants are for doing research in the summer beyond what is done in the academic year. But this can be a matter of timing. Finish it in May and hand it in September 1st as your summer work. Think that never happens? Don't be silly. Ten pages solicited by the International Journal on Second Best and typed up over a weekend in August? Surely that is enough. Or just getting the supplement ready for the casebook? Now that is serious research!

(No music link but please join me in humming Fountains of Wayne's "Bright Future in Sales")


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, there's an awful lot on this blog that sounds like self-rightous whining. Just saying.

3/06/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One man's whine is another man's wine." Plato

3/07/2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think Jeff just articulates the frustration that some of us feel for those who don't realize how truly privileged they are to be law professors, especially tenured law professors.

3/07/2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Marie T. Reilly said...

The thing is, we're not "privileged" to be law profs. It's a job and we are paid handsomely to do it. Our jobs permit us to exercise an unusually large range of discretion over our activities, shielded by tenure and academic freedom from most market- driven discipline. I suppose that breadth of discretion might be described as "privilege" in the relative sense that almost nobody else who works for pay enjoys it.

What I like about MoneyLaw is the open discourse about the optimal job description for legal academics, what law schools should be maximizing, and how we might get from where we are to where we should be. To me, observations about the status quo are not whining (at least not when I'm doing it).

3/07/2007 2:24 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey Harrison said...

My use of word "privilege," perhaps inaccurately as to the precise definition, is to describe those with a sense of entitlement as a result of over-affirmation or, more simply, being conditioned to believe they are somehow more deserving than others. In law teaching, the hiring of people from elite law school schools plays an important role. More on privilege at: thttp://classbias.blogspot.com/2007/02/privileged-insanity.html

In this post my purpose is to illustrate how far faculty behavior in the summer deviates from stakeholder interests. Very little of what happens budget-wise is designed to further the interests of those who pay the bills.

For me Moneylaw is about maximizing benefits for stakeholders with the resouces at hand.

3/07/2007 6:06 PM  

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