Law Faculty Salaries, Circa 1940

I just returned from the Association of American Law Schools conference, in New Orleans. I was sick for most of the weekend, which kind of sucked. Nevertheless, I had several opportunities to walk around the city, which was lovely. Except for Bourbon Street near Canal Street, that is. Which remains a pit.

Anyway, for nostaglia’s sake I dug this old AALS memorandum out of storage last night. The memo, which dates from March 1940, announces the site of the 1940 AALS convention (Chicago! In December!) and relates the results of an extensive survey of faculty salaries that the organization had conducted. From this survey, one learns that as of 1939-1940:

  • the average salary of a full professor at reporting law schools was $5,521; of an associate professor, $3,607. According to the ol’ Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, $5,521, as of 1940, had the same purchasing power as $90,789 did in 2012.
  • one school – I am guessing Harvard Law, though it may have been one of the two schools that did not respond to the survey – spent $291,500 on faculty salaries. After that institution, there was a pretty steep drop-off in this type of expenditure, and only five schools spent more than $100,000 on faculties salaries, overall.
  • at the other extreme, a bunch of law schools spent less than $20,000 on total faculty salaries, and a few spent less than $10,000. To put the latter figure in perspective, if my memory is correct, at least a few top-flight Yale Law and Harvard Law professors were making more than $10,000 a year, apiece, during this era.



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