refund that portion of the dues that were
used to lobby on that issue.
The State Bar of Arizona takes an even
stronger approach. We don’t take any position that wouldn’t pass the Keller test. It
frees us to work on core issues without getting caught up in the political issue of the
So what happens in voluntary states?
They all have state bars that are usually
actively involved in both rules and legislation. But they do it without constraints.
Some state bars have political action committees. Some donate to candidates. So
while they may do great work on one side,
it can be tainted by political positions taken
The Bar is governed by Supreme Court
Rule 32. I urge you to read it if you get a
chance. You’ll find that our mandate goes
beyond lawyer regulation. Rule 32 says
that the Bar exists to “provide a forum for
discussion” and to “carry on a continuing
program of legal research.” In other words,
we have the responsibility of improving our
Most attorneys work hard every day trying to figure out how to help their clients
and make a buck at the same time. You
may not have time to be a member of a
Committee or Section leadership. But your
dues support both the organization and the
process that improves our system of justice.
It pays for the Ethics Hotline that protects
both attorneys and clients. It funds programs ranging from the Trust Accounting
Manual to conservatorships. A recent study
found that the Bar operates both efficiently
So let’s go back to the opening question. Why do we have a mandatory bar? In
my mind it’s simple. I didn’t just sign up
for a job; I joined a profession that is a
key part of what makes this nation great. I
prefer to be part of a system that regulates
attorneys and creates that forum without
having a political agenda. I’m proud of
what we’ve accomplished and look forward
to the achievements yet to come. I believe
that the mandatory bar is the best way to
accomplish those goals.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE by Richard Platt
The Arizona Legislature’s recent debate over
HB2629 has raised a great question: Why do we have a mandatory bar?
Let’s start with a little history.
The State Bar of Arizona was first established in 1933 by law passed
by the Arizona Legislature. The 1933 law made it mandatory that every
lawyer had to be a member in order to practice law in Arizona. James
M. Murphy, the 24th President of the
State Bar of Arizona, wrote an article
in the Arizona Law Review in 1960
about the history of the State Bar. It
was titled “On the Glorious Feast of
St. Patrick in the Year 1933”—a must-read if you want more information on
the Bar’s founding.
In 1933, there were approximately
654 lawyers and 22 judges in Arizona.
Only 175 lawyers belonged to the voluntary Arizona Bar Association. The
State Bar of Arizona opened its first
office in Phoenix in 1948 and hired
its first Executive Director in 1954.
In 1961, the Bar published the first
Bar Journal. The magazine has since
evolved into the ARIZONA ATTORNEY,
which is published 11 times per year
and is nationally recognized as a premier bar publication.
The Arizona Supreme Court took over the Bar in 1974. When the
State Bar Act sunsetted in 1985, the Bar was solely a function of
the state’s judicial arm. Today there are more than 23,000 attorneys
licensed in Arizona, with about 17,500 in active practice.
But back to our question. Why is the Bar mandatory? After all, there
are other states where the regulation of attorneys is purely a governmental function.
The Bar is not mandatory just for lawyer regulation. If that were its
only function, then it might as well be done by the court. The Bar is
mandatory because attorneys are officers of the court. As a
result, we have an obligation to do more than just represent
our clients. We have a responsibility to make sure that our system of justice responds and adapts to an ever-changing legal
environment. Sometimes that involves rewriting outdated
court rules; other times it means looking at highly technical
aspects of Arizona law to make sure the system works efficiently.
Of course, the concern with a Bar that works on legislation
and rules is that it could be politically motivated. Fortunately,
the U.S. Supreme Court has established guidelines. In Keller
v. The State Bar of California, it said that bars can’t use
mandatory fees to take political positions that are not related
to their core purpose or the administration of justice. It doesn’t
mean mandatory bars can’t take a position, only that they must AZ AT
We have a responsibility
to make sure our
system of justice
responds and adapts
to an ever-changing
Where did we come from? Where are we going?