time equivalent positions for several years.
These efforts at frugality and efficiency
continue unabated. In October, the Board
of Governors approved the elimination,
consolidation or modification of several
committees and programs. For the most
part, we didn’t eliminate services, just the
way in which services are delivered. The
Bar will, in turn, cut its
costs by more than
$50,000. In the same
way, the Board of
Governors has examined
its own finances and is in
the process of cutting its
costs of doing business
by about 15 percent.
So why are we doing
all this? It would be better to ask as I did in the
title of this column—
What’s in it for me? What
are my dues paying for?
The answer is a great
deal, which is why the
board is working hard
to preserve and improve
your Bar’s programs.
Free legal research
through our partnership
with Fastcase. Unparalleled legal education
opportunities. Practitioner-oriented law
office management assistance. A world-class leadership development program for
our young and future leaders. Efficient
fee arbitration services. An invaluable ethics
hotline. This award-winning magazine
you’re reading right now. This is, of course,
only a partial list.
Many of these services I just listed inure
to the benefit of practitioners of all types,
including government and large-firm
lawyers. Every single one, though, is of particular value to solo and small-firm lawyers
like me. The leaders of your Bar strive to
maintain and improve services for our
members, and to be faithful stewards of
your money and trust. Success comes in
helping you realize your professional goals,
and the good our profession does for the
communities in which we live.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE by Whitney Cunningham
Your dues for 2014 will be the same as they were this year.
In fact, your membership dues paid to the Bar have not gone up for 10
years. We, who are entrusted with operating your Bar, ought to be patting ourselves on the back, right? Not really, because that’s not how we
view our mission.
Consider my own circumstances. I work in a two-attorney law office.
We are helped by a part-time legal assistant and a part-time bookkeeper, both worth their weight in gold. The idea that I might bill eight
hours in a day is laughable. Maybe if I’m
in trial. The rest of the time, in addition to
trying to squeeze in actual legal work, you
might find me cleaning, taking old files
to closed storage, or making runs to the
court, the bank or the post office. Even
when I’m working on client matters, some
percentage of that work devoted to
“administrative” time goes unbilled. My
bookkeeper scolds me, justifiably so, if I
don’t have my three-way reconciliation
done within a few days of her reconciling
the bank accounts.
I don’t think that I’m below average
when it comes to productivity. I’d like to
think I work pretty hard and efficiently.
Even so, when you are on your own, or
close to it, there’s just more to do that
doesn’t involve billable time. This is the
world in which solo and small practition-
ers live. And before going on, I should
point out that I love it. It is conducive to
close client relationships built on mutual respect, the freedom to refuse
clients because the bottom line is not as important as peace of mind,
and of course the flexibility to attend my daughter’s hockey games.
All of this informs my view of the dues we pay to the Bar. For my
partner and me, the number is $1,115. That’s the amount of the pay-
ment we made for this current year—two active lawyers, two optional
$50 payments to the Foundation, and three Section mem-
berships. Candidly, $1,115 is not a small check in my office.
It’s the kind of check that I might look at, then look at my
account balances, then ask my bookkeeper to bring back in
I’m proud to be part of an organization that over the past
decade has taken significant action to avoid raising dues. We
bought the building in which your Bar is housed. Given the
confluence of prices, interest rates and financing options, this
enabled your Bar to dramatically reduce its facility costs compared to renting space. We built a state-of-the-art CLE center
that furthers our goal of generating non-dues income to support Bar activities. Mostly, we have simply toed the line on
costs. The Bar has continually looked for ways to deliver more
and better services to you, while basically adding no new full-
What’s in it for Me?
I’m proud to be
part of an
over the past
decade has taken
significant action to
avoid raising dues.