Vol. 75, No. 10, October
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
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
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.