As I read the comments of Senate President Lane Beattie in Tuesday's article by Lucinda Dillon about low state salaries, I almost broke out in laughter. Beattie's statement that something is not right with the $20,000 difference in pay between an attorney in the Utah Attorney General's Office and an attorney working for Salt Lake County seems to imply that the county has got it all wrong. I could not resist the temptation to respond to this apparently uneducated statement.

I am a recent graduate of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at BYU. Upon graduation, I began working full-time for an association of Western state governments as their legal counsel.I have since passed the Utah bar and have received my license to practice law in this state. It has been explained to me that my salary is connected to the Utah state pay scale for attorneys working as legal counsel for state organizations. I have been told that this pay scale is even lower than that of attorneys working in the Attorney General's Office, which Tuesday's article describes as "egregiously" low.

As a full-time employee, with a law degree (and the enormous school-loan debt associated with it), I began working at $14.37 per hour, which equals $30,000 per year.

I have heard that the Federal District Court in Salt Lake City pays its judicial law clerks $50,000 per year. Utah is even now paying $36,000 per year for one-year judicial law clerk positions that do not necessarily require a license to practice. I have friends that will make anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 during their first year of practice.

Yes, I am fairly bitter about the fact that I must moonlight as a waiter in order to be able to make the payments on my law school loans that came due last month. A raise in salary that decreases the disparity is long overdue.

James Alder