The D.C. Bar's board of governors will vote today on whether to approve an increase to its annual dues that would raise them from $195 to $224 for active bar members. The increase would also raise dues for inactive members from $121 to $126 and for judicial members from $98 to $113.
Last September, the D.C. Court of Appeals approved a $90 increase to the maximum amount in annual dues the bar can charge, a move largely driven by the bar’s effort to find a new location for its headquarters amid the ongoing economic crisis. The court’s approval allows the D.C. Bar’s board of governors to raise annual dues up to the ceiling of $285. The increase from $195 to $224 for active members would mark the first increase made under the new ceiling level.
The board is also scheduled to discuss a provision that would grant a one-time deferment to lawyers who can show they are unable to pay their dues.
The provision, which requires a supermajority to pass, would suspend the bar's existing dues bylaws to allow active bar members suffering from financial hardships to file an affidavit, swearing that they are unable to submit their dues because of the economic downturn.
If the measure passes as proposed, lawyers would have to submit an affidavit by Sept. 30, the date by which members would ordinarily have to pay or face automatic suspension, to have their dues deadline pushed back to March 1, 2010. The affidavit forms would be available through the bar.
For those who do not claim hardship, the amendment would also push back this year's dues deadline from July 1 to Aug. 15.
"The proposal was made to acknowledge the difficult financial situation the nation is facing right now," says Cynthia Kuhn, the D.C. Bar's director of communications.
By Jeff Jeffrey