Saturday, December 19, 2009

On the Rack: Domino's Pizza School of Law

Look at how much the dean at the Domino’s Pizza School of Law was making in 2007.

According to the deposition testimony of Paul Roney, the CFO for all things Ave Maria, Law School Dean Bernard Dobranki is paid approximately $300,000 annually by the school and not the Foundation. The latest available IRS-990 statement filed by AMSL (2007) shows Dobranski receiving $365,699 in total compensation from the school. The 2007 990 from the Ave Maria Foundation does not list Dobranski as a donation recipient or an officer-employee. [Emphasis mine]

Bernard Dobranski was making $365,699 in total compensation from the school!! And why not? After all, he was serving as the CEO/educator of a privately-held corporation. A private company that receives an annual deluge of federal funds and taxpayer money in the form of government-backed student loans, that is!

The following are excerpts from the July 2008 deposition testimony of Paul Roney, the CFO for all things Ave Maria (Paul Roney):

Q. Bernie Dobranski is paid by the foundation?

PR. No.

Q. Who is he paid by?

PR. The law school.

Q. And the money is put into the law school by the foundation for his pay?

PR. No, not specifically.

Q. Okay. And he has a contract whereby he will be paid whether he’s employed as a dean of the law school or not; correct?

PR. For a period of time, I believe that’s correct.

It must be nice to be paid $365K regardless of whether one works or not.

For those of you not aware, Tom Monaghan is a wildly successful businessman who has owned Domino’s Pizza and the Detroit Tigers baseball club, among other investments. After selling Domino's, he decided to open up his own law school, providing an education under the Roman Catholic tradition. The school was originally located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The school opened its doors in 2000.

Anyway, pizza boy decided to move his school to Naples, Florida and the delivery was made earlier this year. I suppose Florida needed one more law school. Prior to Ave Maria’s move, Florida ONLY had eight law schools.

Tuition for those entering the law school in 2009-10 is $34,900. Expenses are estimated to be $20,879 for the same academic year.

Here is the school’s video regarding Career Opportunities and the Florida Legal Market:

Lastly, this fifth-rate law school is ranked in the Fourth Tier by US News & World Report.

Taking all these things into account, who in their right mind would pay to go to school here? You would be better off going to culinary school or managing a fast food restaurant. At least, you wouldn’t be strapped with massive student loan debt. You can access the school’s web site for further info, but you may get indigestion.

The school is also taking applications for the position of dean and president:

Just make sure to specify what toppings you want, and whether this is carry-out or delivery.

In all seriousness, Tom Monaghan is a businessman first and foremost - above all else. He sees this as a wise investment. (And you trolls/apologists out there thought law schools were not lucrative investments. Why else would we see so many private law schools popping up all over the place?)


  1. I showed this blog to my wife, and like me, she wants to know what has this blog accomplished. The same thing goes for your sister blogs.

    You seem bitter; you need to get over the decision you made and let go of this. Record numbers of people sat for the LSAT. Law school applications are higher than ever.

    Overall, thigns are not that bad. I don't have any legal employment lined up, but I am learning valuable skills in moot court. And I have an internship lined up next semester. I feel that I am mkaing a wise investment.

    Thanks for expressing your views. But I just don't see the point in this blog. I also don't understand why the "industry" is paying you guys any attention. It hasn't made a dent in the numbers.

  2. content 2L,

    Congratulations on your progress so far! I hope you keep coming back and updating us on your success, since we don't have much of that news around here. While you're at it, tell me if your future firm offers dental.

    Have you ever seen the State of the Union coverage and the 15 minute response from the opposing party? We bloggers are at least hoping for a window like that.

    If you've learned anything in law school, you've probably learned that every argument has two sides and that we should zealously advocate for our client's position. There are virtually no voices in mass media speaking out against the law school scam, so that gives impetus to people like us.

    These blogs popped up around summer 2009, and already we've gotten major legal publications to acknowledge Big Debt Small Law, Third Tier and Esq. Never. Though record numbers are applying to take the LSAT, it's probably a response to the recession and not the actual desire to practice law. Law school is like no other professional school with high barriers to entry. You'll graduate a little bit smarter but unskilled in the practice. You can use the numbers argument, but might does not make right.

  3. To the content law student above,

    These blogs have gotten the word out to others that law school is a terrible investment. Even a study by a Vanderbilt law professor has reached this conclusion.

    The low-wage, service-based economy has pushed many to pursue advanced degrees. People are under the false impression that an advanced degree will make them stand out. The reality is that we have an over-abundance of people with Master’s degrees, in this country.

    Hell, you can get a Master’s degree in reading instruction from Drake University. I know plenty of MBAs who are chronically under-employed and people with M.A.s who edit children’s books (and make peanuts doing so).

    How can you say “things are not that bad” when YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY LEGAL EMPLOYMENT LINED UP? Do you like taking out tons of student loans, earning useless “skills” – just for the sheer enjoyment of the academic pursuit? You are working on fake cases. The local rules of court generally do not apply to these competitions. You have an unpaid internship next semester - WOW!

    Perhaps you can get a nice referral from this experience. But PLENTY of other law grads will have similar endorsements from their internships. You claim that you are making a wise investment. How much do you pay to go to school? What tier is the school in? (I don’t care to know which school.)

    The industry is starting to pay attention to the anti-law school blogs because they don’t want the truth to come out. (I have even offered to debate a few law school deans in a public forum - no takers so far.) Law school materials are all designed to lure in victims with false and misleading data. We can only counter that with the facts.

  4. That was a poor flame. It's like the guy on JD Underground who pretends to be from Touro and to be confident in his future employability despite all evidence to the contrary...In fact, maybe it is the same guy.

    Btw, Nando, any word on whether if you can't get a job in 30 months or fewer, your Domino's law degree is free?

  5. Nando is a typical self-righteous arrogant lowlife who assumes everyone else has failed just becaue he is a failure. haha. I love it!

  6. DO we need more Law schools? No. Do we need all the ones we have? No. What we honestly want is the ABA say "no," based on the fact there is no need. The media image of Lawyers provides the demand. But, if the ABA does that, then it would face a monopoly suit. The ABA like its monopoly of Law School accreditation. It has benefits beyond the fees they charge schools.

    So, we are stuck with a system that will continue till it fails. The schools will provide a legal education to students funded by students loans. These students will plug away at the Bar Exam till they pass. After passage, they will be unemployed w/ student loans.

  7. Wow, are Venceremos, Sazerac, Associate X, Lawyer ATL, or Sarin Gas posting here?

  8. apologists are miserable suckupsDecember 19, 2009 at 3:20 PM

    Yeah, pointing out the law school industry lies makes one a lowlife.

    To dickface at 10:42: using "haha" automatically makes you a failure. Now, go off to a FTT and get ready to make large monthly student loans for the next 30 years, Loser. And go piss off and spread your asinine bullshit somewhere else.

  9. The truth is that law school is almost categorically not worth it at current prices. $35,000 to $45,000 for one year of useless bloviating at a school which does little to help any but the top of the class get work? You have to be desperate or crazy.

    Many of these law deans ought to be rung on RICO charges. Their employment statistics are fraudulent and their schools are filled with low life institutional apologists.

    All that most people need to learn about Torts, UCC Paper or Transactions or many other topics can be learned from a bar outline.

    The legal educational institutions are indeed just cash cows designed to create cushy admin and teacher jobs for Ivy League law grads.

    The bottom 90% of TTT law schools subsidize the chosen (annointed) at the top of the class. These top 10% get all of the good interviews and law school accolades. The bottom 90% are dumped out like garbage behind a Taco Bell dumpster.

    Another issue is the fact that ABA cannot reduce the number of law schools due to malleable principles such as "fairness" or "access". Special interests group will sue the ABA because not enough minority groups will be represented in law school if the number of schools decline.

    Be rest assured, that many cushy govt jobs await these minority students. Now they will get the loan repayment programs and be relieved of debt, courtesy of the taxpayers. Who is going to be left to pay for it all.

    The non-dischargeable debt, much like the mortgage crisis, has been the engine for allowing the profiteering law schools can reap millions off the backs of starry eyed kids with visions of "The Practice" or "Inherent the Wind".

    What they will end up doing, for the most part, however, will resemble Glengarry Glen Ross.

    Any of these idiots in law school now should know better, the information is out there. This should not relieve the laws schools of liability for their fraudulent practices.

  10. Does the law degree come with a Deep Dish pizza?

  11. This analysis is basically wrong here. Monaghan has already made his fortune. The whole school is his vision/toy. I'd expect the reason the salary is coming from the foundation is for Monaghan to exert direct control - the foundation (read him) has the contract and therefore control over the dean. Doesn't help the situation at all as attending a billionaire's religiously conceived and micromanaged law school isn't that appealing.

  12. Monaghan made his fortune long ago. This is his toy, but he also thinks this school will be a profitable investment. Do these guys ever have enough?

    Amassing even more wealth is a game to these people. Just look at the way billionaires run their sports franchises; they get tax funds to build their stadiums.

    In specific regard to Monaghan, look at the AveWatch link in this blog entry. Go to the Monaghan Quotes section on the right side of the screen:

    "If you can franchise pizza restaurants, why can't you franchise Catholic schools?"

    Businessmen see private law schools as potentially lucrative investments. One company owns three American law schools.

  13. This difference with with the MBA is that if the $120k Finance gig doesn't work out you can ride out the recession with a $75k Marketing gig, or like hundreds of other underemployed MBAs, convince a PE firm to finance a new venture. What are the alternative career paths for JDs? This skills you pick up in law school are totally useless for anything other than, um, doing law stuff.

  14. Just wanted to refute the fact that minority get all kinds of jobs (especialy govt jobs). I am going to graduate top half of my class at a school ranked in the top 35 and it hasn't done much for me regarding getting those types of jobs. I have a job lined up but it isn't particulary great and I don't think I got much help being a minority (I got in with credentials better than the median of my class). Being an URM might have helped quite a bit just a few years ago, but not anymore.

  15. I have to say that minorities are overrepresented in doc review... which is what I'm doing currently. Doesn't seem like being a minority has helped us here either.

    Clearly, all law students are fucked.. it's the most egalitarian school of all.

  16. You people are pathetic. I am a law graduate and highly successful business executive. My law degree has helped me in countless ways. If you would only realize the power of positive thinking and hard work! You are the ones in control of your success or failure! Stop being caught in the liberal blame game.

  17. how does your law degree help you in countless ways? I would really like to know, honestly. I mean, as others have mentioned, a law degree is little more than a glorified liberal arts degree as far as I can tell. Srsly, I would like to know.

  18. Proud GOP Patriot: you are a troll and you're making it all up!

  19. Exactly! The troll at 12:09 probably has not even stepped foot in a law school - not as a student, anyway.

    Let me guess - one can also do ANYTHING with a law degree, right?

    Positive thinking should be at least counter-balanced with reality, i.e. weighing the pros and cons, and your chances of success, before committing yourself to a decision.

    New flash, kid: positive thinking does not pay the bills. Plus, TONS of skilled, thoughtful, intelligent people work hard. But if there are very few opportunities, that will not take one too far, either. Have you ever heard of luck, political and family connections, or favorable circumstances/fortunate timing? Those factors were somehow left out of your "analysis."

    You talk like someone who has been sheltered from the outside world, by your parents, for too long. Oh, the world that awaits you! I am sorry if your parents and teachers told you that you were special and could accomplish anything you set your little mind to – this simply is not the case.

  20. Nando,
    Thought you might find this worthy of a rage-y post. Phoenix Law's Career Services blog - (Note the "hilarious" picture of Nelson laughing at the Lexis survey.) What were they thinking?

    Also amusing that all of the blog posts are just links to articles with minimal commentary. Glad career services is using their time efficiently to find jobs.

  21. @proud gop patriot

    I'm happy for you. And how much of your law school education did your daddy pay for? And which of your daddy's businesses did you go into after you graduated?

  22. i was so close to getting stuck with the law school debt noose around my neck. I went to a pretty good school (tier 2) but I was soo dumb I had no idea that since this school was outside of the T14, the jobs available are pretty much the same as if I went to a TTTT. Anyways, I got lucky and got a full scholarship my 2nd and 3rd year because I was rankded super high in the class. I didnt transfer becuase of the $$, but anyways, I managed to get big firm for 1 year. I just recently got laid off, but I managed to save alot from the gig. Regardless, I thank god everyday that I got lucky I recieved the scholarships etc. I was looking at 200k in debt when I enrolled and that could have easily happened. Well, now I am comfortable to service my debt, but with 1 year experience, a top 5% student from a tier 2 cant find a faaking job!!!

  23. You are right about Bernard Dobranski. He was Catholic University's Law School Dean when I graduated in 1996. He left, because he felt that Catholic Law was not catholic enough for him.

    I mean seriously its a fricking joke when Catholic Law is charging close to 40K a year for a 3rd rate law school.

    God bless your blog!

  24. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    Pizza Rack


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