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    Inside the Bar

    Here's a look at the State Bar's audited financial picture for FY 02, July 1, 2001 - June 30, 2002.

    George Brown

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 75, No. 10, October 2002

    State Bar Financials: Counting Beans

    Here's a look at the State Bar's audited financial picture for FY 02, July 1, 2001 - June 30, 2002.

    by org gbrown wisbar George C. Brown,
    State Bar executive director

    George Brown If you are like most State Bar members, you spend little or no time thinking about the State Bar's financial picture. If you do, you probably ask yourself where the State Bar is spending your dues dollars.

    First, where does the Bar get its money? Only about 40 percent of the State Bar's operating funds come from the dues you pay. The remaining 60 percent comes from products and services sold by the State Bar. For example, dues dollars do not support State Bar CLE seminars or books. The costs of those two services are borne by the fees you pay for seminars and the prices you pay for books and supplements. Other income is derived from such things as advertising in the Wisconsin Lawyer, annual convention registrations and trade show booth rentals, the sale of miscellaneous publications, grants, lawyer referral fees, and interest income.

    A substantial portion of your dues dollars goes to providing you information about the law and the profession. WisBar, the State Bar Web site that many of you use daily, and services on it such as Caselaw Express, are supported by your dues. Even though advertising pays for a substantial part of the cost of this magazine, much of the magazine's cost is supported by dues. The "Inside the Bar" newsletter also is supported principally by dues. The annual convention, though heavily supported by the fees you pay, and by trade show booth rentals and sponsorships, still requires some underwriting from dues dollars. Your dues also support a substantial part of the Bar's government relations program. Public service projects developed by the Bar's 32 committees, 25 sections, and four divisions are supported almost entirely by dues. The "low-cost" CLE programs sometimes sponsored by committees or divisions are low-cost because they are supported by your dues dollars. And though much of the direct costs for the Bar's law-related education programs, such as the statewide high school mock trial program, receive money from grants, the cost of staff support still is borne by dues.

    Every year, the State Bar Finance Committee recommends an annual budget to the Board of Governors for approval. And nearly every year, the Finance Committee is faced with fairly and appropriately allocating your dues dollars in that budget to programs that support members' needs and the Bar's responsibilities in light of requests that far exceed the amount of dues and other income available. The staff then manages those allocations with oversight by the Finance Committee. This year, both the staff and the committee have been aided with the improved management tools provided by a new computer accounting and finance software system. (Read the State Bar financials for FY 02 online). Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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