Struggling Law School Pays Dean $5 Million Dollars

One of the nation’s highest-paid law school deans will walk away with more than $5 million.

John F. O’Brien, who has been dean of New England Law since 1988, will retire from his position later this year with a retirement package worth at least $5.3 million, according to the Boston Globe.


O’Brien’s retirement package, according to the Boston Globe, includes more than $4 million in deferred compensation and $1.3 million for unused sabbaticals.

However, critics say, the dean’s enormous retirement package is difficult to justify especially as the Boston-based law school faces steep operating deficits and dwindling enrollment.

“This is completely outrageous on every level,” Paul Campos, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School who writes about the economics of law school, tells the Globe. “What is the justification for giving him all this money?”

This isn’t the first time the law school’s dean has received sharp criticism for his high pay. Back in 2013, Inside Higher Ed reported that O’Brien earned more than $867,000 a year at a time when law school tuition rose as enrollment declined.

“It’s a remarkable sum to pay a dean of a law school, never mind the dean of a bottom-ranked law school,” said Brian Z. Tamanaha, author of the 2012 book Failing Law Schools.

Yet, New England Law officials have defended O’Brien’s pay saying that his retirement package is a way to thank him for his “30-plus years of distinguished service to the school.”

Sources: Boston Globe, Inside Higher Ed

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