Tuesday, September 18, 2012
State Bar Dues Bill Signed, Active Members to Pay $410 for 2013
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday signed into law the State Bar dues bill, maintaining the present $410 fee for active membership in 2013.
The bill, authored by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, passed both houses unanimously.
Business & Professions Code Sec. 6140 provides that the State Bar Board of Trustees shall set dues “at a sum not exceeding” $315. However, another $95 is tacked onto that amount through assessments under other sections.
These are: $40 for the Client Security Fund, $25 for disciplinary activities, $10 for the Lawyer Assistance Program, $10 special assessment for funding of information technology upgrades, and $10 for the Building Fund.
Under Sec. 6141, dues for inactive members remain at $75. However, there are add-ons, bringing the total to $125.
Those who are 70 and older and are on inactive status remain exempt from dues.
This year, there was a one-time $10 rebate to both active and inactive members. There is no such allowance in the 2013 dues bill.
Deductions Still Permitted
The bill leaves undisturbed provisions which permit a $5 deduction by those who do not want to support the State Bar’s legislative program (an option required by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Keller v. State Bar of California), a $5 deduction by members who object to application of dues to access and elimination of bias programs, and a $10 deduction by lawyers who do not want to support the legal services activities.
As of last April, there were 238,287 members of the State Bar, 175,849 of whom were active, 50,255 inactive members, 2,086 who were judge members (members who are ineligible to practice law while in judicial service and pay no dues) and 10,097 who were “not eligible to practice law.”
No controversy surrounded this year’s dues bill. This was in contrast to 2009 when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the dues bill, causing bar operations to be largely frozen.
The governor, peeved over the State Bar Commission on Judicial Evaluations’ rating of state Sen. Charles Poochigian as “not qualified” for the Court of Appeal, said in his veto message that he questioned the State Bar’s “impartiality in considering judicial appointments.” He appointed Poochigian despite the rating.
Schwarzenegger was also upset that the rating had been leaked. However, no evidence emerged that the report of the rating by this newspaper had been based on information that emanated from the State Bar or its commission.
Veto by Wilson
In 1997, then-Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the bar dues bill, saying in his message:
“The bar has responded to Keller by conducting business as usual while offering a minuscule rebate to those opposed. Unappeased, several bar members (including one former and one current member of the legislature) sued this year, asserting that the bar had violated its members’ rights by taking positions on legislation with which members disagree.
“In recent months, as disgruntled members have leveled charges that the bar is bloated, arrogant, oblivious and unresponsive, the bar has promptly done its best to verify each indictment.”
Persisting complaints about the State Bar triggered a significant restructuring of it under legislation last year, with fewer lawyer members of the governing board.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company