Dues Hike Ok’d

A dues increase will go into effect for ABA members on Sept. 1, the start of the association’s 2006-07 year. The increase will affect all dues-paying mem­bers, including nonlawyer associates and law schools that participate in the facul­ty group billing program. (Lawyers are eligible for free membership in their first year after bar admission.)

But the increase won’t be the same for everyone. The new dues schedule approved in February by the House of Delegates introduces a sliding scale of increases (see chart). The proposed dues increase had wide, if reluctant, support among ABA leadership. The 37-member Board of Governors voted unanimously to recommend that the House of Delegates, which sets ABA policy, approve the increase at the midyear meeting in Chicago. The proposal cleared the House with a clear majority, but not without some objections.

The ABA should emphasize membership growth rather than rely on dues increases every three years or so, said Lawrence J. Fox of Philadelphia, a delegate representing the Section of Litigation. “The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” he said.

But Maury B. Poscover of St. Louis, who chairs the Standing Committee on Membership, said membership growth is being emphasized. He said the dues recommendation authorizes the membership committee to explore various billing arrangements. The committee is moving forward with a strategic plan for membership growth that will seek to increase ABA membership, now just over 407,000, to 500,000 by 2010.

The dues increase is necessary to offset a projected cumulative budget shortfall of $23 million over the next three-year cycle, ABA Treasurer Wm. T. Robinson III of Covington, Ky., said before the midyear meeting. But the alternative of deep budget reductions “would cut into program support that is so essential to our association and its credibility with the public,” he said.

James Podgers

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