May 7, 2014 – For the fiscal year 2015, July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015, State Bar of Wisconsin dues will be $254 for full dues paying active members. This amount reflects an increase of $30, the first in 10 years. Active new members (lawyers admitted to their first bar after April 30, 2012), as well as inactive members will pay half-dues of $127. Nonvoting judicial members will pay $170.
State Bar dues and assessments vary based on membership classification. The four Wisconsin Supreme Court-imposed assessments remain the same for the third year. The 2014-15 State Bar of Wisconsin dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessment statements will be mailed no later than the week of May 12 and are due to the State Bar by July 1.
First Increase in State Bar Dues Since 2005
Since 2007, the State Bar used reserve funds to balance its budget and mitigate dues increases, while expanding services in valued programs like law office management support (LOMAP), assistance to lawyers facing stress, substance abuse, and other problems (WisLAP), and ethics advice. To fund these program expansions, and offset a 20 percent increase in the consumer price index over the past decade, the organization put in place significant cost-cutting measures, including a 10 percent staff reduction in 2012.
Reserve funds are largely depleted, Finance Committee chair Nick Vivian told the Board of Governors at a recent meeting. Without an increase, the State Bar faced an operating deficit of more than $500,000 in the coming fiscal year. Executive Director George Brown told the board that cost-cutting measures will continue, as well as efforts to seek alternative revenue streams.
For more coverage of the budget discussion at April board meeting, read State Bar Board Approves Member Dues Increase, First Increase Since 2005.
Supreme Court Assessments Remain at Current Level
The supreme court-ordered fees include assessments supporting:
*The court assesses active-licensed attorneys and judicial members $50, paid to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, to fund civil legal services for people who cannot afford an attorney.
A Couple Reminders
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when completing the dues and assessments statement:
1) Self-identify on the dues and assessment statement. The Diversity Task Force is looking to better understand and serve an increasingly diverse membership. Please take the time to read the neon orange slip of paper accompanying the statement, and provide or verify demographic data collected in support of the State Bar’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
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2) Be sure to sign the trust account statement to retain your license – and your permanent notary commission. Some lawyers do not sign it because they don’t have a trust account. However, supreme court rules require that every lawyer sign this statement.
In you don’t complete this form, you also risk losing your permanent notary public commission, if you have one. A few years ago, the state legislature moved the responsibility of notary commissions to the Department of Financial Institutions, and it is now enforcing the suspension of permanent notary commissions of suspended attorneys. This means when you are reinstated, you must reapply for a four-year notary public commission and will continue to be reappointed in four-year increments. This matter is solely within DFI’s discretion.
If you do not receive your statement by late May or you don’t want to wait for mail delivery, visit myStateBar at WisBar.org to download and print your statement. Click on the myProfie tab to access your statement. Need help? Contact Customer Service at (800) 728-7788.
After remitting payment, you can visit myStateBar to verify that the State Bar has processed your payment. Your receipt and membership card should arrive within two weeks from the date the Bar receives payment.