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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Has Ave Maria School Of Law Spent More Than $1 Million In Legal Fees?

That's what the Naples News is reporting.
The law school and its founder Tom Monaghan appear to have racked up more than $1 million in legal fees last fiscal year, including the first eight months of defending a wrongful termination and whistleblower lawsuit, the school's audit says.
Wow. And for the time being, there is no stopping the bleeding. The 3 plaintiffs are seeking 7-figure damages each and we've still got the costs of a trial set for late summer. So why should someone donate to an institution wasting so much money?

The Naples News also has an interesting article about Tom Monaghan's financial commitment to Ave Maria School of Law as it moves to Florida. Apparently, Monaghan has promised to cover the operating deficits for the law school until 2017. From the article, last year's deficit was $2.9 million. I'm guessing that there has been more than a million dollar deficit for each year of the school's existence.

Here's another interesting excerpt from the Naples News:
Ave Maria's budget documents show that the school is relying on a substantial boost in donations.

Its 2010 budget calls for $2.5 million in donations, almost four times what it received last year.

Deborah Gordon, a Michigan employment attorney who's representing three former Ave Maria law professors suing the school for wrongful termination, said that projection was overly optimistic.

"Based on testimony in the case thus far, that would be an amazing feat," Gordon said.

Instead, Gordon said, testimony in the case has shown that the school has relied on Monaghan and his foundation for more money than it projects at the beginning of each year.
Finally, what assurance is there that Monaghan will keep his word? After all, he hasn't been so good at keeping it in the past.

AveWatch.com has more analysis on the Naples News articles. Also, for each article, the Naples News is posting links to PDFs of Ave Maria Law School documents obtained by the News through public records requests. The documents are fascinating. I hope the News keeps up the good investigative journalism.