Selected Terms of My Employment Contract

I recently agreed to “coach” our school’s Evidence moot court team, while its normal, more competent coach is out on sabbatical. After I agreed, I was told I would receive $1,000 for my service. I declined the stipend, reasoning that, as a full-time faculty member, I shouldn’t have to be bribed to assist our institution’s moot squads. But the episode got me to look a little more carefully at other terms in my annual employment contract . . .

Dear Mr. Graham,

This letter serves as a renewed offer of employment on the Faculty of Law at The Very Impressive Law School.  Your base salary for the academic year 2012-13 will be $120,000, regardless of whether you choose to teach three or four courses. The remainder of your salary will consist of performance bonuses, as follows:

Scholarship

For each law article you publish at a flagship journal of a “T14” law school, you will receive a bonus of $15,000, a letterman’s jacket with the word “Varsity Scholar” stitched in leather on the back, and 500 “Professor Points,” which you can accumulate to earn valuable prizes at the Law School Gift Shop.

For each article you publish in a flagship journal of a law school within the Top 50 of U.S. News and World Report rankings, but outside the T14, you will receive a bonus of $7,500, and for a period of six months, and you’ll be permitted to delete your school voicemail regardless of whether you dial “7” or “Star-D.”  

For each article you publish in a flagship journal of a law school within the Top 100 of the U.S. News and World Report rankings, but outside the Top 50, or in a Journal of “law and” published by a T14 institution, you will receive a bonus of $5,000. At faculty functions, however, you must serve yourself from the buffet only after professors who have had articles accepted in T14 journals within the past year already have eaten their fill. 

For each article you publish in a flagship journal of a law school outside of the Top 100 of the U.S. News and World Report rankings, or for each article you publish in a Journal of “law and” published by a law school outside of T14, you will receive a swift beating, courtesy of our new Associate Dean for Scholarship, Chuck Liddell. Your office also will be moved to our unfinished Basement Annex, and if we have provided you with a red stapler for your use, it will be confiscated.  

Also, we value our scholars’ participation in dialogues with leading scholars from other institutions. For each time either Akhil Amar, Richard Posner, Cass Sunstein, Orin Kerr, or another member of the “Five-Timers Club” expressly, and in a public forum, praises your or your work by name, you will receive a bonus of $2,500. If any of the aforementioned scholars dedicates a blog post or public address to criticizing you or your work, you will receive a bonus of $5,000The added payment reflects the fact that it usually takes more work to criticize than to praise; if important people spend that much time on your work, we’ll take it as a sign that it must be pretty good.

Media and Service

The Very Impressive Law School also encourages its scholars to make appearances on those media programs that are both highly respected and have the greatest influence upon the school’s national reputation. Therefore, for each appearance you make as a guest on either “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report,” you will receive a bonus of $25,000.

You will receive an additional bonus of $5,000 for each time you mention The Very Impressive Law School during your appearance on either program, and a further bonus of $15,000 for each time you mention the Very Impressive Law School’s “tradition of excellence” or “community of scholars.” 

Thought Leadership

As the recent ACA litigation establishes, law professors can play an important role in framing novel issues of national importance.  The Very Impressive Law School therefore is pleased to provide the following bonuses:

If your scholarship ultimately produces litigation that percolates up to the United States Supreme Court, leading to an opinion on the merits by that Court, you will receive a bonus of $25,000. If you are cited in more than a dozen national media reports as the “agent provocateur” of, or “diabolical genius behind” this litigation, you will receive an additional bonus of $25,000.

For each Supreme Court justice that cites to your scholarship in their opinion, you will receive an additional bonus of $10,000.

For each snarky reference that Justice Scalia makes to you, or your scholarship, in connection with the case, either in an opinion authored by him or on one of his subsequent speaking tours, you will receive an additional bonus of $15,000.

Nontraditional Writing Projects

As you no doubt have observed, in recent years elite law schools have encouraged their professors to undertake projects that lie outside of the “mainstream” of legal scholarship, in the sense that they have nothing to do with the law, or with the study of law. As the Very Impressive Law School aspires toward similar heights, it is happy to provide the following subsidies for “nontraditional” writing projects:

A $25,000 advance for each mystery novel;

A $40,000 advance for each child-care book; and

A $75,000 advance for each fantasy / science fiction book positing that every American adult should receive a $80,000 “stake” in American society.

Please let me know at your first convenience whether you find these terms acceptable. 

Best Regards,

Dean Smoot

The Very Impressive Law School

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