Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The New York Times recently reported that the United States’ poverty rate rose in 2002 with more than 34 million people now living below the poverty line. That report follows on the heels of a Times article in early September noting there is no state in which a low-wage worker can afford a modest one- or two-bedroom rental. In fact, in Connecticut, renters need to earn more than three times the prevailing minimum wage to afford basic housing. Poverty and lack of housing are large-scale social problems and it is easy for us, as individuals, to think that their solutions should be left to policy wonks or government. That is a mistaken thought. Most attorneys in Connecticut are employers, either individually or through their firms. We set the wages for our employees and decide whether to pay for important benefits such as health care. We decide how profits are to be divided and whether we are comfortable with the wage differential between our highest-paid member and our lowest. We are often prominent members in our communities. We may serve, or be active, in local politics, development efforts and philanthropy. In all of those areas, we have the ability to affect large-scale problems like poverty. Take a moment and consider whether you are doing some simple things to make a difference. Do you know what level is a living wage in your community? A living wage is generally considered to be one that permits workers to meet their basic needs for shelter, food, clothing, transportation, childcare and other reasonable necessities. It is certainly more than the current federal minimum hourly wage of $5.15 or Connecticut’s minimum wage of $6.90. Many experts suggest a minimum wage of $9 to $13, depending on local costs. One can assume that most of Connecticut’s communities would be on the upper end of the range given our extraordinarily high housing costs. Further, living wages generally presume that an employer also will provide at least some form of subsidized health care benefits. As an employer, are you paying a living wage, particularly to your non-attorney employees? Are you avoiding responsibility by treating employees as independent contractors? If you outsource for certain services, have you confirmed that the business you contract with pays its employees a living wage? Have you considered the wage differential between your highest-paid employee or partner and your lowest-paid? Consider this the “Ben & Jerry’s calculus” after the ice cream company’s well-publicized policy of paying its top executives no more than 5 times the amount paid to its lowest-paid employee. What is the wage differential at your firm? Couldn’t you make a dramatic difference in the lives of your lower-paid employees if you increased their wages and followed the Ben & Jerry’s calculus? Wouldn’t the impact on your lower-paid employees be substantially more than the impact the decrease has on you, and aren’t you in a better position to absorb the change? Finally, if you are involved in local politics or development efforts, are you making sure your community is committed to affordable housing? When a new multi-use project is proposed, do you make sure it includes affordable housing? Are you a counter-voice to your community’s NIMBYs (not-in-my-back yard-ers)? What have you done to educate yourself about ways to finance affordable housing? Tackling the large-scale problems of poverty and lack of affordable housing can happen in small ways as well as large. If we each commit to small changes in those areas over which we have control, we move toward larger change in our communities. The CLT Advisory Board wrote this article.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.