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Indiana to raise attorney registration fees

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Annual registration fees for Indiana attorneys will increase nearly 25 percent, the Indiana Supreme Court announced in an order issued Monday.
 
The registration fee for active attorneys will increase from $145 to $180, and fees for lawyers whose status is inactive will rise from $72.50 to $90. The annual registration period opens Aug. 1, and the fees are due by Oct. 1 each year.

“The members of the Supreme Court reviewed the budgets and made the determination that the increase is needed to sustain our programs and agencies,” spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said.

Fees were last raised in 2011, and Dolan said the state’s current fees are among the lowest in the country.

Registration fees paid by attorneys fund the operation of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program and the Commission for Continuing Legal Education.

Delinquent fees also will increase by $35 for those who register after the Oct. 1 deadline. The penalty will rise from $95 to $130 for those who pay by Oct. 15; from $145 to $180 for those who register from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31; and from $295 to $330 for those who register after Dec. 31.

Regarding fees compared to other states, “Indiana is so low that whether we’re counted as lowest or second-lowest is negligible,” Dolan said. That analysis is tricky, though, she said, because some states include mandatory state bar fees or other fees that Indiana doesn’t.

Even among voluntary bar states, Indiana’s fees are below average, Dolan said.

Indiana State Bar Association President Jim Dimos said increases are never popular, but the registration dues remain low compared to states that don’t include mandatory bar fees.

“From our experience at the state bar, the court seems to administer things relatively modestly,” Dimos said. “While no one’s happy about paying more fees, we’re confident the court thought long and hard about this and believes they need these resources to continue to provide services to lawyers in the state of Indiana.”

The court relied on a July 2013 attorney registration fee survey from the Office of Attorney Ethics of New Jersey that showed Indiana’s fees ranked 50th compared to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Maryland’s fee of $130 was lowest; Oregon’s fee of $3,722 – which includes a mandatory malpractice fee – was highest.

Indiana is among 18 voluntary bar states whose registration fee does not include a portion shared with state bar organizations. Of those states, Indiana’s fees also are second-lowest, the New Jersey survey found. The average registration fee in those states is $255, with Connecticut charging the highest, $675 annually.

In 2011, registration fees increased $15 after increasing by a like amount the prior year. The 2011 increase coincided with introduction of the online registration portal, http://appealsclerk.IN.gov.

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