Head Of Lousy MA Law School Makes $867,000, Grads Make Bupkis

lawyer out of work

From the “Higher Ed Bubble Hits Massachusetts” File…


New England Law, Boston has operated in the shadows of the ­region’s more prestigious law schools for decades, trailing so far behind in some measures of excellence that US News & World ­Report does not include the downtown campus in its widely read ranking of 145 better law schools in the nation.

Yet the school’s longtime dean, John F. O’Brien, may be the highest paid law school dean in America, pocketing more than $867,000 a year in salary and benefits, includ­ing a “forgivable loan” that he used to buy a Florida condominium.

How does Dean O’Brien bring in all this legal tender? He and New England Law take advantage of the “everybody outta go to college!” attitude.

It is also the story of a law school that has hiked tuition by more than 80 percent in just a few years while doubling the percentage of applicants it accepts, generating the funds for increased student aid but also for the big salaries paid to O’Brien and other top administrators even as the demand for law school graduates dries up.

Higher tuition, taking in lots more customers, all while the market for new attorneys is falling and starting salaries collapsing.

Only 34 percent of students in New England Law’s 2011 graduating class were able to land jobs requiring a law degree within nine months of graduating, according to the American Bar Association, compared with 68 percent at Boston College Law School, and 90 percent at ­Harvard Law.

And before you BC or Harvard fans get too excited…


In 2011, more than 44,000 students graduated from the 200-odd U.S. law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Nine months after graduation, only a bit more than half had found full-time jobs as lawyers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 73,600 new lawyer jobs from 2010 to 2020. But just three years into that decade, about 132,757 new lawyers have hit the job market.

While not every new JD seeks employment as a lawyer, it is safe to say that planning to work as an attorney is not rare among law students. But perhaps it should be. Data from the National Association of Legal Career Professionals indicate that since 2010, about 75,000 new law grads have found full-time jobs as lawyers.

So, in theory, all of the BLS-forecasted job openings through 2020 have already been filled, and 59,157 new lawyers are still looking for “real” law jobs.

It’s not just that Dean O’Brien is cranking out debt-crippled kids with law degrees that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. It’s that the entire American society–including our president–keeps subsidizing this disaster by pushing more taxpayer-backed loans and urging everyone to go to college.

If your kid is at New England Law, that’s probably proof he never belonged in law school in the first place.

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Michael Graham
Radio talk show host, columnist for the Boston Herald, stand-up comic and former GOP political consultant. Learn more about Michael here.

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