The always-excitable Above The Law is reporting that Charleston School of Law is offering buyouts to some of its tenured professors. Apparently this is big news to ATL, and the headline even includes the word “yikes.” I’ve been operating on the assumption that most law schools are currently offering buyouts to tenured professors, with varying levels of both aggressiveness and formality. I doubt many schools are sending letters like Charleston did, but I think it’s safe to assume that just about every law school in the country is doing whatever it can to cut spending and increase revenue. Enrollment is down just about everywhere, which means revenue is down. Schools have to do something.
Consider the following hypothetical: somewhere in America today, a tenured law professor making $250,000 a year walks into her dean’s office and says, “I’m thinking of leaving. What’s it worth to ya?” I don’t think many deans would respond by saying, “get out of my office right now and continue to work here for another 25 years.” No, I think the response just about anywhere would be to negotiate some kind of buyout.