Mandatory Bar Challenges

State Bar of Texas (McDonald et al v. Sorrels et al)

Quick Facts

  • In March 2019, three Texas lawyers sued the State Bar of Texas claiming that under Janus v. AFSCME (2018), it is unconstitutional for an attorney to be required to join the State Bar of Texas in order to practice law. The plaintiffs also challenge Bar programs that they claim exceed the Bar’s “core regulatory functions.”

  • The State Bar of Texas will vigorously defend its existing statutory structure, which was established by the Texas Legislature in aid of the Texas Supreme Court’s inherent authority to regulate the practice of law.

  • Mandatory membership in a state bar and payment of compulsory fees are constitutional. Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the state has an interest in regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services.

  • All State Bar of Texas programs further the state’s interests in regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services. Through these activities, the State Bar protects the public, serves its members, and supports the administration of the legal system.


March 6, 2019

Plaintiffs filed complaint

March 25, 2019

Plaintiffs filed motion for preliminary injunction and motion for partial summary judgment on liability

April 25 – May 17, 2019

Amicus briefs filed in support of Plaintiffs:

Amicus briefs filed in support of the State Bar:

May 13, 2019

State Bar filed responsive briefs, cross-motion for summary judgment, and motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction

May 23, 2019

Status conference held; Court scheduled summary-judgment merits hearing for August 1. Plaintiffs agreed to pay their 2019- 2020 State Bar dues.

May 31, 2019

Plaintiffs filed responses and replies.

June 18, 2019

State Bar filed reply in support of cross-motion for summary judgment

August 1, 2019

Summary-judgment merits hearing held; motion for preliminary injunction dismissed

May 29, 2020

Judge granted State Bar’s cross-motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiffs’ partial motion for summary judgment

June 2, 2020

Plaintiffs filed notice of appeal to the 5th Circuit 

June 30, 2020

Plaintiffs filed opening brief with the 5th Circuit 

July 30, 2020

State Bar filed brief with the 5th Circuit 

March 4, 2021

Oral arguments held at the 5th Circuit

July 2, 2021

5th Circuit Opinion

For a list of all of the filings, please visit this page.

Other Mandatory Bar Challenges

State Bar Association of North Dakota (Fleck v. Wetch

Louisiana State Bar (Boudreaux v. Louisiana State Bar and the Louisiana Supreme Court)

Oklahoma Bar Association (Schell v. Gurich)

Oregon State Bar (Crowe v. Oregon State Bar)

Oregon State Bar (Gruber v. Oregon State Bar)

Utah State Bar

State Bar of Michigan (Taylor v. State Bar of Michigan et al)

State Bar of Wisconsin (Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin) 

State Bar of Wisconsin (File v. Kastner et al) 

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