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ISBA hikes member dues at annual meeting

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Hundreds of attorneys and judges converged on Indianapolis for two days this week, attending the Indiana State Bar Association annual meeting.

The annual conference, this year at the Hyatt in downtown Indianapolis, offered multiple educational sessions during the day Thursday and Friday, while the ISBA's House of Delegates voted on policy matters and reflected on the past year before new officers took over for the next year.

At the delegate meeting this morning, the ISBA approved without any opposition the first dues hike in eight years. Earlier this year, ISBA President Bill Jonas appointed a special committee to examine the issue of increasing dues, particularly what impact it could have on members during the tough economic times. The committee recommended a $45 to $55 increase, and the governing board recommended a $50 annual increase for members serving six or more years. Other members will see various increases, depending on their membership classification.

The increase takes effect in May and amounts to a 21.74 percent hike - compared to the past three increases of 24 percent, 27 percent, and 27 percent, respectively. This hike puts Indiana somewhere in the middle nationally of dues amounts, and it's expected to bring in about $428,170 in additional income, Jonas said.

"We know these are difficult economic times for everyone, but we have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure the budget is adequately funded so that we can continue offering services and programs," Jonas said.

Delegates also amended the ISBA bylaws, allowing for what has traditionally been an annual audit to be conducted every two years because of the cost involved.

In other business, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard praised the Hoosier legal community in relation to the difficult economy, recognizing the many efforts that have materialized even as the state's judiciary saw more than 2 million filings for the first time ever in trial courts. U.S. Magistrate Judge Tim Baker also asked the delegates to recognize Rep. Ed DeLaney, an Indianapolis attorney brutally attacked last week.

Following that morning meeting, new board members for 2009-2011 were announced at the ISBA luncheon where Jonas handed the presidency over to Roderick Morgan, a partner at Bingham McHale in Indianapolis, who is the bar association's first African-American president.

The ISBA meeting culminates tonight at 6 p.m. with the Randall T. Shepard Award Reception and Dinner, recognizing and awarding the legal profession's pro bono efforts during the past year.

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