Bar board sets Hudson deduction at $1.50

by Kathleen O. Beitiks
Staff Writer

At its final meeting of the year, the board of governors set the 1998 Hudson deduction at $1.50. Attorneys will be able to deduct $1.50 from their 1998 dues for bar programs and activities which have been determined to be nonchargeable.

Although bar staff had calculated the nonchargeable portion of members’ dues to be $1, historically the Hudson deduction has been rounded up in order to provide for a margin of error. For example, last year’s Hudson deduction of 15 cents was rounded up to $1.

Bar officials said that a $1 deduction would not provide a margin of error for 1998. Based on last year’s figures, a $1 deduction results in a loss of $22,000-$24,000 in revenue to the bar. A $1.50 or $2 deduction provides for a bigger margin of error, while providing less revenue, depending on how many members choose to take the deduction.

In the past, higher deductions have resulted in more members taking advantage of the Hudson deduction.

The board also voted to delay ongoing discussions about Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission (JNE) restructuring proposals until the next board meeting, Dec. 13, in San Francisco.

Leon Goldin of Los Angeles presented fellow board members with a progress report on a study of unemployed, underemployed and dissatisfied lawyers, urging their input.

In the early 1990s, the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) brought the problem to the attention of the State Bar when a period of downsizing at law firms left many young lawyers unemployed or underemployed.

The report attempts to identify the nature of employment problems as well as solutions and suggestions for ways the legal community can address the issue.

Goldin asked board members to "read and think about how we can use it for outreach."

Nearly every board member used the last meeting of the year, held at the annual meeting in San Diego last month, to profusely thank fellow colleagues, generally commenting on what a privilege it was to serve on the board of governors.

Following his report as chair of the board’s legislation and court relations committee, however, Joseph Bell of Grass Valley chastised three public board members — Jo Ellen Allen, Wendy Borcherdt and Peter Kaye — for speaking against the bar’s membership fee bill during the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s hearings.

Bell said he understood the issue of First Amendment rights, but urged future board members to inform their colleagues when they planned to publicly oppose board policy.

The three public members had testified that the proposed dues bill was too high and that the bar could afford to cut more than the $20 reducation initiated by the board last year. (The final 1998-99 bill, at $458 per year with a $10 rebate, bringing total fees to $448, was on the governor’s desk at press time.)

Borcherdt — both Kaye and Allen were absent from the board meeting — said she had planned only to observe the hearing, but felt compelled to testify after listening to statements from bar officials she felt were inaccurate.

In response to criticisms of secrecy on the board, outgoing member John Stovall of Bakersfield urged the new board to adopt the Brown Act, which prohibits closed sessions of public entities except for discussions involving personnel, litigation and real estate negotiations.

"Perhaps it is time to apply the Brown Act to ourselves," said Stovall, "to ensure a kind of openness that avoids the perception of closed."