For Law Students, a De Minimis Pay Raise

On January 1 of this year, student workers at Harvard Law School got our first raise in over a decade, from $11.50 to $12.00 an hour.  Our meager fifty cent raise wasn’t the result of Harvard’s sudden generosity—rather, it’s because the Massachusetts Legislature increased the state’s minimum wage.

It had been so long—at least eleven years!—since Harvard Law raised pay for research assistants and teaching fellows that the state minimum wage has now surpassed what we were making. In real terms, that means our wages have declined due to inflation. In the same amount of time, tuition has skyrocketed 57%, from $40,751 in 2008 to $63,800 in 2019. Yet none of that money is being returned to the students whose work keeps the school running, and our pay is far from a living wage.

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