Stetson Law student contributes to ABA resolution on living wage

Diana Estrada
Diana Estrada

In August, the American Bar Association House of Delegates passed Resolution 608 urging federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments to enact laws and policies to provide all employees a living wage. A Stetson Law student was instrumental in crafting the resolution’s supporting documentation.

“Not only did I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to get some pro bono hours, but I am also passionate about a living wage for all, so this project meant a lot to me,” said Diana Estrada, a 3L in the Social Justice Advocacy Concentration. “As a future attorney, I hope to make research and writing a large part of my career, so I also thought it would be a great experience for that reason.”  

The resolution defined “living wage” as the minimum hourly wage that an individual in a household must earn to support themselves and their family to a basic standard of living through employment without the need of any government subsidies. The resolution further stated the ABA supports legislation, such as the Raise the Wage Act (S. 53) that would raise the minimum wage to meet a living wage standard for an average household.

The resolution is now part of the organization’s official policies, explained Stetson Law Professor Kristen Adams. 

“The ABA is the largest professional organization in the world, and ABA resolutions have historically been meaningful and influential in our country’s democratic process,” she said.

While the resolutions themselves are typically quite short – just a few sentences – a lengthier report supports the resolution, much like a legal memorandum, by citing authority and precedent.  The report Estrada drafted is exceedingly important and is closely scrutinized by members of the ABA House of Delegates in deciding how to vote, Adams said. 

Professor Kristen Adams
Professor Kristen Adams

“I am not sure we have had a Stetson Law student participate in drafting a report supporting a successful ABA resolution before, and this is truly a wonderful accomplishment!” 

Adams is a member of the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty and its Economic Equity Subcommittee for the ABA, and the group decided to propose a living wage resolution at one of its subcommittee meetings.  She thought learning about the resolution process would be a good opportunity for a student, and when she posed the idea to Social Justice Advocacy Concentration students, Estrada jumped at the chance. 

“Through this experience, I learned about the benefits a living wage for all brings to everyday people and to society as a whole,” Estrada said. “Additionally, I learned the importance of seizing opportunities that are presented to you.”

Estrada, who plans to work in public interest law upon graduation, said she recommends this experience to other students because it was not only a great learning opportunity and interesting way to earn pro bono hours, but it was also a “chance to be a part of something bigger than myself that directly benefits people in the community.”

Students who might be interested in working on future ABA resolutions should contact Professor Adams for more information.