Midyear Meeting 2010

ABA Slashes Dues for Solos by Half


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Patricia Refo. Jensen Larson Photography

The ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates has cut dues solo practitioners will pay on bills that begin being sent in May by almost 50 percent. The ABA also cut dues paid by government lawyers, judges and legal services attorneys by 25 percent.

“We have talked a lot about solos,” said Patricia Refo, chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Membership. “It’s time to do something about it.” Fewer than seven percent of solos belong to the ABA, yet more than 30 percent of American lawyers are solo practitioners.

Government lawyers, judges and legal services attorneys have traditionally paid 25 percent less than other ABA members. The cut passed by the House today preserves that benefit vis-à-vis “regular” members of the ABA, Refo said in support of Resolution 177B (revised) (PDF).

The new dues scale for those lawyers and solos will be:

• $0 for lawyers in practice less than one year.

• $100 for lawyers admitted to practice for one year but less than four years.

• $125 for lawyers admitted to practice for four years but less than six years.

• $145 for lawyers admitted to practice for six years but less than 10 years.

• $225 for lawyers admitted to practice for 10 years or more.

In August, the House is expected to consider a 25 percent dues cut for all lawyers who have been in practice for five years or more. Dues currently top out at $399 for lawyers in practice 10 years or more.

The ABA has 392,000 members, and “we’re doing better than many” of its peer associations, Refo said. But membership as a percentage of all American attorneys has slipped from 36 percent to about 29 percent over the past 15 years. The ABA’s goal is to grow to 50 percent of all American lawyers in the coming years, she said.

The dues cuts were the result of a comprehensive dues pricing study, which included a survey of 9,000 lawyers and work by a pricing expert.

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