California attorneys will pay $345 in bar dues next year, a $50 drop from the current dues
level and a decline of nearly 28 percent from the all-time high of $478 only four years
Although the bar was authorized by the legislature to collect $395
per lawyer, a very happy board of governors unanimously approved lower dues last month
after executive director Judy Johnson told them, We are keeping faith with our
membership by collecting only the money that we need and giving back to them the money we
The dues reduction is the result of a one-time $15 million surplus
which accumulated primarily because of a staffing shortage.
Between $6.5 million and $7 million will be absorbed by the dues
reduction, and the remaining $8 million will be used, in place of taking out a loan, to
complete the delayed build-out of staff offices in the bars San Francisco
Since assuming the top bar job April 1, Johnson has devoted a great
deal of her energy to developing a five-year financial plan and a three-year budget
based on what we need and will use, she said. This budget is a first
The new dues level places the California bar, the largest in the
country, behind nine other state bars in terms of membership fees.
I expect to be the most popular lawyer in the state,
exulted Presi-dent Palmer Madden after the vote. New board member Judith Copeland of San
Diego, attending only her second meeting, joked that she could quit now. Ive
accomplished everything I wanted to, she said.
The fee statement, redesigned this year (see graph at right), will be
mailed early this month. The redesign was undertaken to make the statement easier to read