In a recent article by Texas Watchdog, it was revealed that former dean and current faculty member Lawrence Sager charged more than $400,000 over 4 years as law school dean to a credit card provided to him by the University of Texas Law School Foundation ("the Foundation"). Sager was eventually forced to resign after it was revealed that he gave himself a $500,000 forgivable loan from Foundation funds. By itself, this is unremarkable news. It's well known that law school professors and deans are shameless in their pursuit of money and other perks. But, I found it interesting that Sager came to UT by way of NYU Law.
This site has published articles about a similar scheme at NYU Law. Like an evil version of Amway, Sager seems to have franchised the forgivable loan scheme and brought it with him to Texas. Sager described it as a way to entice academics to come to Texas. It's not like UT Austin is Cooley. I'm sure many academics would jump at the chance to teach there. But no, what Sager meant is that he needed to attract academics from Harvard and Yale. Like Louis Vuitton bags, it doesn't matter if the academic is any good. Just that they have the right pedigree.
If you read the articles referenced above, Sager never once expresses any remorse for using the Foundation's funds to enrich himself and members of the UT faculty. A report from a deputy attorney general that lays out the scheme in full, ugly detail. At one point, Sager settled a lawsuit by a professor that threatened to expose the whole scam he and his cohorts were running. He regularly charged over $100,000 per year on a Foundation credit card. His predecessor only charged around $6000 per year to the card. Who footed the bill for Sager's folly? The taxpayers of the State of Texas and donors to the Foundation.
Sager has a sense of entitlement that shows how divorced he and most other members of the law school industrial complex are from reality. He says it's common practice to offer these types of loans as enticements. He also states that higher ups were fully aware of his own loan. Sager displayed nothing but extreme self-entitlement through that whole saga. His attitude was "Everyone does this. Why are you looking at me?" My jaw is still on the floor.
We need to keep spreading the word and preventing law school charlatans from continuing to believe that they deserve perks for being so special. The fact that Sager still has a job at UT Law shows how little accountability law professors and deans have to students. Law schools pound the need for lawyers to be ethical on one hand. On the other, professors and deans engage in cash grabs like summer stipends and forgivable loans. It is all made possible by student loan money. How is Sager's conduct ethical in the least? And what does it say that he still has a job at the institution that he essentially defrauded, 4 years after the fact? The foxes have full control of the hen house here.
When the money dries up, where will law professors and deans end up? Law professors do not have much value in the lateral market. Being an actual attorney requires brevity and the ability to make actual recommendations to clients. Law professors who spend their time writing 60 page law review articles about the effect that Justice Marshall's breakfasts had on the Marbury v. Madison decision don't have such skills. The law professor job market is all smoke and mirrors, propped up by the misery of millions of law graduates who were lured in under false pretenses. We need to keep hammering away until there is no money to effectuate schemes like Sager's. Law professors need to be shown what their true value to society is.