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Posted on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

University of Michigan hires new top attorney at $400K salary

By Kellie Woodhouse

University of Michigan hired a new chief attorney who will earn 28 percent more than what his predecessor earned.

The Ann Arbor school recently tapped Timothy G. Lynch, a top attorney at the U.S. Department of Energy, as the school's next general counsel— effective Jan. 7.

Lynch will earn $400,000, according to U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald.

That's nearly $88,000 more than Suellyn Scarnecchia, who earned $312,206 at the time of her departure in May.


Timothy Lynch

According to U-M's salary database, Scarnecchia's salary was paid entirely out of the university's general fund, which is comprised primarily of tuition, fees and state appropriations.

Scarnecchia left administration to return to teaching at U-M's law school.

Upon resignation, Scarnecchia also received a $50,000 stipend and a semester off. As is custom for administrators who return to teaching, Scarnecchia will continue to earn her $312,206 salary for the first year of her return.

In addition to his time as the energy department's deputy general counsel for litigation and enforcement, Lynch has worked as assistant chief litigation counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions, an assistant United States attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and a law clerk.

He graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1995, where he served as editor of the school's law journal. He has also taught there as an adjunct and at the University of Virginia's law school.

As a vice president and general counsel for U-M, Lynch will be responsible for handling legal affairs and setting strategic direction for the office.

When compared with 2011 figures, the latest available, Lynch will be the fourth highest-paid vice president of the university and highest paid non-executive vice president of the university.

How does Lynch's salary compare with the earnings of the top legal officials at other elite public schools?

Paul Forch, general counsel to University of Virginia's president, earned a base of $222,800 in 2010, the latest year available in a Collegiate Times database. University of California at Los Angeles Vice Chancellor of Legal Affairs Kevin S. Reed earned $265,500 in 2011, according to a public database. Barry D Burgdorf, vice chancellor and general counsel for the nine-school University of Texas system, earned $444,830, according to a Texas Tribune database that was last updated in February.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

I assume somebody thought he was worth it. Would love to know the dynamics of arriving at a number this big.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 4:07 a.m.

Good luck to the new guy. Will be tough job to do with no background in higher ed, health system no experience at um. It is a very complicated client , very complicated politics and a board of regents that has no idea how to function as an effective board. Will be a few months until the cool aid wears off.

Joe Kidd

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

And soon they will be whining about cuts in state aid and jacking up tuition. The state needs to take over the board of regents. We need a state constitutional amendment to get the U back to where it once was, responsible.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

"department's deputy general counsel for litigation and enforcement" Enforcement? Really... Can you solve the oil spill / phosphoric acid that went under University of Michigan grounds and provide enforcement on whoever did that?


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:20 a.m.

he's got himself a good gig but why go outside the University when u have so many lawyer/teachers and so many other lawyers already


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 11:59 p.m.

This is an example of what Occupy Wall Street, among other things, was intended to protest. I guess it will be paid for by out of state students. This is absurd.

Angry Moderate

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

Seeing as the University of Michigan is a non-profit organization, and Occupy Wall Street focuses its ignorant rage exclusively on corporations that produce things like food, medicine, and computers, I highly doubt that they would have much to say about this issue.


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

"Occupy" was on the wrong street Hemenway. But they were successfully duped by the folks that "educated" them.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

Wow, and to think my $13/week raise was considered big based on all our budget cuts.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.

You got a raise? Lucky you, we're cutting $30M from the Health Care budget in the next 6 months, because the yahoos in charge forgot that they wrote big checks to build a new Children's and Women's hospital and spent $200M on a (needed) new billing / EMR system.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

At the Big U, nothing succeeds like excess, so throw another C-note on the fire. What bad thing(s) did little Susie do to get "demoted"?? Did I miss a scandal here, somewhere? Bad girl?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

I do think people should be limited to only one pension on the taxpayers's back, whether it be local, state or federal taxes.

Mike D.

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

With high probability that U of M will have to defend its affirmative action stance in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, I'm glad to see someone with real firepower leading legal affairs.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

Sorry, I'm not seeing the "firepower" worth $400k. If you are concerned about UM and the Supreme Court, you might actually hire a counsel that's been before it.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

In yet another demonstration of the outrageous arrogance of the organization, they feel that the privilege of being their attorney is worth as much as the duties of the President of the United States. I don't know whether to laugh hysterically or puke. This is yet another new low in the impressive annals of sickening and wretched excess displayed by the University of Michigan.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

S. C. A. M. !


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

I thought the University needed to save money. I don't see anything here that would back that up. Same as always, the rich get richer and the poor, well if you don't know the rest, I know which side of the scale you're on!

Angry Moderate

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

A good lawyer can save you a lot of money (or jail time).


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Strange to focus on what a lawyer made in his last job. They are, and have always been the quintessential "free agents." The only question is: what can he command on the open market? In some respects, a little like a free agent in professional sports.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

Then if they are a "little like a free agent in professional sports" you most certainly look at his record (stats), skills and attributes (how fit into the team) and bid appropriately.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

Not sure why a comment challenging the reason Scarnecchia left the position was against the guidelines. I guess it depends on who is moderating and how they feel about it?

Basic Bob

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Someone in her department made a huge mistake, and I don't believe the inexperienced lawyer who 'resigned' did anything without direct supervision. So unless they want to throw someone else under the bus, Scarnecchia seems like a good choice for someone to accept the responsibility for the error.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

As UM alumn I would be very interested in finding out how an attorney with NO experience in Higher Ed, NO experience in Health Care,NO experience running a law office lands a job heading up OGC? Was the pool of candidates that mediocre? As for his salary-yes attorney's in private practice can generate a much large income-but Lynch came from public sector to public sector and did not need to be "lured" to Michigan with a comparable salary.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

Mike, if you drag "only" $300k to live in the Midwest through Georgetown, you'd need a tow truck rope to haul them all in. If you'd read the article, you would have noted that the counsel for UVA (that would be east coast) makes $220k. And liberals in OZ will take serious offense of calling A2 a "conservative backwater".

Mike D.

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Have you tried to lure people to Michigan? I have trouble finding qualified people here for open jobs, and it's nigh impossible to get people to move from the coasts. Something about our state being a conservative backwater.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

Are you sure about the last comment?

Superior Twp voter

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

$400 K per year, eh? Pretty tidy sum. He'll fit right in here at "Moscow on the Huron." Especially coming from BHO/Steven Chiu's U S Dept of Kill-Energy.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

They are killing energy so fast that we'll be the world's top producer of oil before too long.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

"Lynch will earn $400,000, according to U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald. That's nearly $88,000 more than Suellyn Scarnecchia, who earned $312,206 at the time of her departure in May." Timothy Lynch is a MAN. Suellyn Scarnecchia is a Woman. Hmmm? Oh yes, that's the reason for the $88k salary difference! Unbelievable. sigh.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Could be the market.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4 p.m.

I bet Stephen Postema is not happy.....his 140k salary plus overtime makes him look like small change......


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Couldn't they just make Bernstein do double duty


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

and some people can't even get an equity review - when it's proven they are under paid 10k, compared to colleagues.

Top Cat

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

I'll be interested to see if Ambulance Chaser Mark Bernstein sees this as a first step in controlling tuition costs.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

Yea, because I'm sure that if your insurance company refused to pay your medical bills after an accident, or a drunk driver hit you and caused severe injury, you would refuse to hire one of those "ambulance chasers" to make sure that you are protected. Everyone complains about lawyers until they need one. And you should know something about the Berstein family before you speak - they are leaders in securing equal treatment of people with disabilities, and they took on most of those cases with no compensation to themselves at all. Richard Bernstein is blind and still managed to go to law school - that takes a lot of guts and work.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

There is nothing wrong with chasing ambulances, so long as you yield to pedestrians.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

Is this attorney sworn to uphold any kind of honor code that would preclude a repeat of the child porn scandal?

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

@A2comments: According to an Asbury Park Press database, Lynch made a base od $177,000 at the DOE during 2011, the latest year available in the database. You can look for yourself here:


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

I don't know why people are focused on his previous salary. What someone made in their last job shouldn't really relevant to what they make in their new job; it's about what value they add to their new organization.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

That raises serious questions about the size of the salary.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Not bad, a $223,000 dollar boost in pay.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Partners at top firms in Washington DC routinely make over $1,000,000. The workload associated with running a massive university is no doubt on par with being a partner at such a firm. If anything, the guy is taking a huge pay cut, even taking into account the fact that it's a private sector job and cost of living in Michigan as opposed to DC.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

He could certainly join a firm that does energy or regulatory work...revolving for between public and private sector.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Looks like he has not worked for any private firms. It would be very unlikely he could be a partner at a top law firm without doing something more that what his resume shows to day. He is moving up in pay, no doubt. Very likely his highest paying position to date.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

He is coming from the federal government. This is probably close to tripling his salary, although a person with those credentials could certainly join a firm as a partner.

Basic Bob

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

1. He's not a partner at a top DC law firm. 2. He's not running the university. That's Coleman's job. 3. He's doubled his pay. 4. This is a public sector job at a public university. 5. This is a darn expensive place to live, far more than some places within 50 miles of DC.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

About the pay cut - you are assuming he does not still hold significant outside business interests. I would be surprised if this is his only source of income.

Lou Perry

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

They couldn't find a UofM Law School graduate with equal qualifications?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

The new UM motto: The 1% lives here!


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

@mich, and the $312,206 plus $50k goodbye pay for the previous counsel was some indication of you get what you pay for?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

You get what you pay for. Want to pay him $200K? Some associates at firms in Detroit make $200K and none would be even remotely qualified for this job. But if it makes you feel better to pander to the class warfare crowd, go ahead (even though he's probably worked harder than almost all of the "99%" to get where he is today).


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

What is up with this photo? This the second time it has appeared in the news feed looking all wonky.

Julie Baker

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

It's a small file size, so it's not the best quality, but we did want to include it. We've adjusted the size so it doesn't look quite so wonky!

Basic Bob

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

It's not really accurate to compare this job with UVa, UCLA, or UT. His first task will be cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor. I bet he has strong ties with folks in Washington. That should help keep the feds out of our little coverup. Which by the way is a federal crime. It's nice to see the person previously in charge get a paid vacation and a bonus to go with her demotion. But I think I would have insisted on a resignation.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

I doubt any official in the DoJ, FBI or any other federal law enforcement agency could be intimidated in any investigation by any campus attorney. They would probably welcome the challenge.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Employees of a public-funded University giving themselves massively inflated salaries on the taxpayer/student dime? Say it ain't so! Oh wait... this is just business as usual. UM will get more and more expensive until most Michigan residents can no longer afford to send their children there yet we will be forced to continue subsidizing their outrageous salaries. The average family of 4 in the U.S. currently lives on about $30,000/year. I'm sure both UM and Mr. Richpants believe this salary is justified. By the way, to put this in perspective, while defending our nation's democracy (or so I was told) in Iraq I made $30,000 my whole year long deployment of dodging bullets and bombs and this guy would make more than that in 1 month for his petty contribution to our society. Police make about $40,000/year and so do school teachers. I'm sure he is worth more than all of us commoners who protect and defend people like him and UM royalty so they can live in a nation where they are allowed to gouge their fellow citizens for outrageous sums under the guise of providing "education". Hey students, how do you like all those student loans? I hope you like them a lot because tuition is not going down any time soon and part of your loan will be going to pay guys like Mr. Lynch to protect the U from its own stupid mistakes. Stephen Jensen, anyone?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Um Johnny, I suppose you're now going to tell us of his vast experience in academics and the legal entails that go with it (hint - zero), patent law (not listed on his resume) and you'll also tell us that the "supply/demand" at $312,206 for his predessor must have not been enough in the "market"? Get real.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Ryan, Let me introduce you to supply and demand. The supply of people who will serve in the military and get free food, healthcare and housing is large. If fewer people join, the salary either goes up, or they have a shortage. As for a top lawyer, one case can more than make up for his $400k. Imagine a the University having a lawsuit over a patent. I many regards that $400k may be a bargain. By the way, the U could go another route and just not hire a lawyer at all. Then whenever cases arise they find one on the open market. I can promise you the costs will skyrocket. The U MUST follow many federal and state LAWS. Who do you think is the person who gives them the advice on that?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

At DoE he was capped at around $168k - or less than what UM pays for their Police Chief (when they keep one).

Angry Moderate

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

large firm*

Angry Moderate

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

He could be a partner at a large form making a lot more than $400k. They have to compete with the private sector for talent somehow.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

$400,000 is not a massively inflated salary for an attorney with his credentials and experience. If anything, it's a huge paycut.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

It's a $6 billion/year business. They could use outside counsel and pay a lot more in legal fees. Or they could hire a new Cooley grad for about 20% of what they pay this guy but that would end up costing millions. Or they could just ask him to do it out of the goodness of his heart. What do you suggest?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

How much did he earn in his prior job? "Upon resignation, Scarnecchia also received a $50,000 stipend and a semester off. As is custom for administrators who return to teaching, Scarnecchia will continue to earn her $312,206 salary for the first year of her return." $50k, a semester vacation, AND your prior salary for a year? And we wonder why tuition goes up...

Alan Caldwell

Mon, Nov 19, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

Completely agree! The university says it has to raise tuition because they now receive less state funding. But on the expense side, it's just business as usual -- that this compensation package for Scarnecchia is "customary". My family would like to pay the customary tuition from 10 years ago too, but we don't get to! Wake up Sue Coleman and stop worrying about your faculty, and start thinking about your customers -- the students and families!


Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

For example:


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Which would also make him very attractive to UM? The ability to DELAY legal proceedings stemming from IG investigations until AFTER and election is a skill the UM may treasure in their own special way.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

His prior job would have been capped at around $168k. This will be interesting. As DoE's lawyer for litigation and enforcement, he would have been responsible for handling the results of the over 100 Investigations currently underway by the DOE Inspector General's Office on Green Cronyism. I would have beat feet out of that office as well, with the added bennie of a $200k raise.