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LSU Law Center Offers Buyouts to Seven Professors
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LSU Law Center has offered retirement incentives to seven of its professors.

Summary: LSU Law Center has offered retirement incentives to seven professors, which could ultimately save the school over $1 million.

According to The Advocate, LSU Law Center is offering incentives to seven law professors if they decide to retire next summer. The school is attempting to cut expenses, following the trend of law schools around the country as interest in law school declines.

  
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Each of the seven professors is tenured and over 65 years of age. They have until Monday to figure out whether they will retire on June 30. In exchange, they will receive a bonus of a year’s salary. The school will save $1.12 million if all seven professors take the proposal.

LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss said, “This is really part of a necessary effort to provide additional financial flexibility for the Law Center.” During a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, the retirement plan was unanimously approved.

Last week, the American Bar Association noted that law school enrollment is at its lowest point since 1987. Close to two-thirds of the 204 ABA-accredited law schools suffered lower enrollment for their entering classes last year.

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Read about the low enrollment here.

At the LSU Law Center, enrollment for the fall 2014 semester is 570 students. Around 200 of these students are first-year law students. This is a slight increase from 2013, but overall, the school has seen a major drop in enrollment in the last few years, a trend occurring nationwide. Since 2011, enrollment has dropped nearly 16 percent at the Law Center. Weiss noted, “The pool of applicants has declined substantially.”



Many prospective law students are skittish about the profession in the present economy. The employment rate for attorneys has declined substantially over the past few years. Many students are wary of accumulating law school debt if they may not be able to find work after graduation.

Law schools are now releasing more detailed employment information.

In addition, though many law schools have lowered tuition in hopes of boosting enrollment, LSU Law Center has actually increased its tuition. It is currently about $20,997 per year.

Boyd Law School has also increased its tuition.

The faculty buyout would allow the Law Center to relax a bit about tuition revenue, which comprises roughly 80 percent of the law school’s budget. Weiss commented, “It’s critical that we have the flexibility to right-size the faculty of the Law Center. The financial cash flow advantage of this plan gives us overall flexibility in terms of our program.”

Should fewer than four professors opt to take the deal, LSU has the option to back out. The LSU Law Center currently employs around 45 faculty members. Most faculty are tenure or tenure-track professors. Several of the faculty who qualify for the buyout are well-respected, including former LSU system general counsel Ray Lamonica and former Law Center Chancellor John Costonis.

How many professors do you think will take the incentive to retire early?

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Weiss cannot predict how many will choose to retire early. “Certainly, some will,” he guesses. Weiss feels that the program is a way for some professors to “retire with dignity and positive feelings” about the school.

The Law Center collaborated with LSU to create the plan. Daniel Layzell, the vice president of finance and administration for LSU, said, “The plan has significant benefits for the Law Center.” The law school is currently reorganizing itself under the umbrella of LSU’s flagship campus.

The expense of paying those who decide to accept the retirement incentive will be $1.36 million should all seven accept the deal. Half of this amount will be covered by a loan from the flagship’s budget.

The university may be able to hire some of the retirees back on flexible year-long contracts. Alternatively, the school may hire cheaper faculty to fill the positions. Weiss said, “We will need to replace some of the retirees with other hires, but we’ll have a flexibility to decide to what extent do we want to do that or use the savings for other purposes.”

In addition, Weiss noted that junior faculty members will have more opportunities at the law school, and the school will be able to hire fresh job market employees, amidst a national decline.

Photo credit: lsusystem.edu



 

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