One bar’s rates going down

February 11, 2010
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The current economy can make businesses cut fees in hopes of attracting more customers or raise fees to cover increasing costs and hope it doesn’t drive people away.

The American Bar Association took the first approach this week and voted to retool their dues structure in order to make it more affordable for all types of attorneys to join or continue to be members.

Solo practitioners will see their dues drop up to 50 percent; government lawyers, judges, and attorneys working for nonprofit legal services, who already receive a discount, will have their dues slashed by up to 25 percent.

The ABA will also bill lawyers in installments instead of needing the years’ worth of dues in one lump sum. A release from the ABA says it understood there wasn’t a one-size fits all approach for attorneys who practice law.

It’s not cheap for attorneys or the law firms/offices that pay for their attorneys to join various bar associations and sections. It’s nice to see the ABA recognizes that many lawyers are struggling in this economy and is trying to address the situation to allow people to maintain memberships or join at lower costs. But for smaller bar associations, it may not be economically possible to lower rates for everyone, or even just some members.

The Indiana State Bar Association voted in November to increase rates by more than 20 percent, the first rate hike in eight years. Those increases take effect in May.

Because of the ISBA’s decision and the economy, the St. Joseph County Bar Association decided to delay the 2010 rate increase, said executive director Amy McGuire. Last year, members saw a $25 increase in SJCBA dues; rates were supposed to increase another $25 dollars this year.

Some bar associations, like the Allen County or the Evansville Bar associations, have not changed dues in the last couple of years.
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