California Bar Journal
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Tardy dues lead to suspensions
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The State Bar Board of Governors was expected last month to suspend as many as 5,200 attorneys - the highest number ever - for failing to pay their bar dues.

Elyse Cotant, manager of member services and information, said because the bar did not suspend any lawyers last year for failure to pay dues, the number includes two years of delinquency.

With the large number of layoffs following Gov. Wilson's veto of the bar's dues bill, her staff is no longer able to track down lawyers who may have moved and have not received a bill.

Cotant said her staff typically has gone to great lengths to find attorneys who have not paid their fees, including contacting alumni associations and the rental offices of buildings attorneys list as their work address.

When an attorney moves, he or she is required to notify the bar of a change of address within 30 days. "Sometimes they neglect to notify us," Cotant said. "We think we may be suspending people who don't realize they are going to be suspended."

Cotant hopes friends will tell friends who might be in this predicament. Any attorney who has not paid this year's (and/or last year's) fees should call Cotant's office at 415/538-2360 and a statement will be mailed immediately.

The vast majority of attorneys who are in arrears owe this year's $250 fee plus a 50 percent penalty of $125, for a total of $375.

A suspension for non-payment of dues goes on an attorney's permanent record. It appears if a lawyer requires a certificate of standing, although it does not appear as a disciplinary offense.

Attorneys wishing to pay their fees can mail them to the bar's member services office at 180 Howard St., San Francisco 94105, or can bring a check to either that office or the bar's Los Angeles office at 1149 S. Hill St.