Executive Director’s Page

State Bar Invests in Texas Lawyers

Whether you’re managing a personal budget or your law firm’s, a prudent manager knows there’s a time to save and a time to spend.

For the past two years, under the leadership of Immediate Past President Joe K. Longley and President Randy Sorrels, the State Bar’s financial focus has been on saving money. This was the right approach for the time. Because of these efforts to control costs, the bar succeeded in reaching a longtime goal of three months of operating expenditures in reserve, which is in line with auditor recommendations.

This year, under the leadership of President-elect Larry McDougal, State Bar leaders believe it’s time to strategically spend money to help Texas lawyers.

The bar’s proposed 2020-2021 budget focuses on investing in information technology infrastructure and enhancing services to members. As proposed, the budget would add resources to programs that provide tangible services to Texas lawyers—including member benefits, law practice management, and the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program—while maintaining the long-term goal of keeping three months of operating expenditures in reserves.

We can do this without a dues increase thanks to wise fiscal management dating back many years. In fact, Texas lawyers have paid the same annual dues—up to $235 depending on years of practice—since 1991. As former State Bar President Frank Stevenson likes to say, that means Texas lawyers are being sworn in today who weren’t alive the last time our dues went up. And no dues increase is being contemplated.

In keeping with our mandate, the budget also fulfills the State Bar’s statutory obligations by regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services in Texas.

A budget summary appears on page 159 of this issue for your review. Everyone is invited to our public hearing April 7 in Austin, or you can send questions and comments to Finance Division Director Tracy Jarratt, CPA, at tjarratt@texasbar.com or 800-204-2222, ext. 1481. We welcome your feedback.


Mandatory Bar Litigation
I’ve been updating you on federal litigation against the mandatory bar structure in multiple states. So far, the trend reflected in court rulings is that the law allowing mandatory bars is settled and can be changed only by the U.S. Supreme Court. Plaintiffs in North Dakota and Wisconsin have filed petitions asking the Supreme Court to consider their cases. Other lawsuits are pending in Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas. You can read the court filings on the State Bar website at texasbar.com/mcdonaldvsorrels.


Trey Apffel
Executive Director, State Bar of Texas
Editor-in-Chief, Texas Bar Journal
(512) 427-1500
@ApffelT on Twitter.

A public hearing on the proposed State Bar of Texas budget will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in Room 101 at the Texas Law Center, 1414 Colorado St., in Austin.

The State Bar Board of Directors will vote at its next quarterly meeting, on April 17 in Bryan, to present the proposed budget to the Texas Supreme Court for review and approval.

Have a question for Trey? Email it to trey.apffel@texasbar.com and he may answer it in a future column.


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