Points missed

While appreciating the coverage of the President’s Fee Study Committee, your reporter missed part of the pertinence of my comments concerning the SA fee increase in support of the Student’s Legal Aid attorneys. I clearly stated that I originally became aware of the inequities of their remuneration when I first served on the SA Senate in 1989-90. AT THAT TIME, it is my memory of the situation that the attorneys were being paid approximately $31,000 and $33,000, and, as self-employed contractors, were required to pay their own health insurance and retirement costs as well as all their social security taxes (now 15.3 percent) (and possibly a self-employment tax). In addition, they were sometimes going into their own pockets to pay some travel expenses, some court costs, and some costs of additional professional education. In effect, then, they were making the equivalent of perhaps less than $20,000 per year when compared to employees of the University who have these costs covered. This was a rough calculation on my part, but I feel it serves to make my major point, which is that in order to decide what their pay rates should be, it is necessary to put them in a proper context for comparison.

Additionally, pay raises for the attorneys have, as far as I can determine, always been included in the normal 2-3 percent increase in budgets approved in SA guidelines. This means that they may either forgo normal (?) pay increases or lose money for support such as copies, supplies, or printing. In other words, they have traditionally had to make the choice of using their total increase of $1500-2500 in their budget for a raise or using their increase to cover inflationary costs of operations. In practice they have basically gone for operations. (Their raises in the past have been instigated, investigated, argued, temporized, and ratified by the SA Senate and the Budget Committee (which includes non-senators)).

Meanwhile, the work load has increased enormously, which in practice means that students may not be able to continue to receive all the services they may deserve or that our attorneys would like to provide even if only as a result of the decreasing amount of time available for attorneys and staff to serve each student on a per capita basis. In an effort to alleviate this situation, a committee covered earlier in the year by the Star, which had its genesis about two years ago, and which included students, Dean Mandel of the Law School, University Counsel George Shur, Mikki Emmet of UP&A, and Asst. V.P. of Student Affairs Gary Greshold, recommended not only reasonable salary increases including offsets for insurance and retirement, but consideration of adding law clerks and/or a third attorney when possible.

At this time, an additional law clerk has been approved, an arrangement under the work-study program which helps both the law students who get the job and experience and students in general. Major upgrades in some areas of Student’s Legal are proceeding, with others to be examined in the future. However, in an attempt to be fair to both our attorneys in Student’s Legal and the other organizations funded by the SA by not funding the increase by an offsetting decrease for these organizations, an increase in the Student Activity Fee is being sought. As published in the Star, it would amount to about an additional dollar-and-a-half per student. That seems a small amount to pay to insure continued availability to the students of some of the highest quality student-paid legal service that I was able to discern in the U.S.

Dave Ivers

Graduate Student

President’s Fee

Study Committee