Should we be troubled by high professor pay? I don’t think so, at least as long as the professor in question is doing her job and working reasonably hard. Law professors are some of the most brilliant minds in our profession, and many of them could be earning far more money in private practice (as some of them frequently remind people). Entering academia involved financial sacrifice for many.
But even if you dispute that — some professors don’t teach in areas that are amenable to lucrative private practice, and some professors wouldn’t want to bill 2000-plus hours a year — robust compensation for profs is still far from objectionable. I agree with my colleague Elie Mystal:
[Y]ou know who you shouldn’t blame [for the high cost of law school]? Law school faculty. That’s right — they might get fancy new buildings and make six-figure salaries, but it’s not really their fault that the cost of a legal education has outstripped its value. Who among us would not take more money and more perks for doing our same job?
…. [D]on’t blame the professors for maximizing their earning potential. You would do the same thing. Lord knows I would take a six-figure teaching job at UT Law, and if I didn’t want it, they could easily find a few thousand qualified individuals to fill the spot.
Sure, professors could do some things to help, but at the end of the day it’s not their fault. If you want to fix this, you need regulatory control.
If you have a problem with high-earning law professors, then don’t go to law school. Law faculty pay is a function of what the market will bear, and as long as thousands of students troop off to law school every year, professors have to be paid to teach them.