Friday, April 15, 2011

Agenda April 16, 2011 by Eric Ballinger

I am starting the Blog to inform the members of the bar of the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit as well as anybody else who is interested, as what is going on with the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia. From time to time I will post information on this blog about Board of Governors Meetings, committee meetings, Bar new and other items of interest to the members of the Bar and the general public. I encourage all of you to provide feed back by e-mail. The more information that we share, the better I can serve as one of your representatives to the Board of Governors.

The next meeting of the Board of Governors is Saturday, April 16, 2011 at the State bar headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Typically, the agenda for the Spring Meeting is to set the bar dues for the next year. This year, the finance Committee is recommending a dues increase of two dollars ($2.00) over last years dues, bringing the dues total for an active member to two hundred and thirty eight dollars ($238.00) not including the assessments such as the Clients Security Fund, Bar Center Fund or section dues.

There is scant information in the material sent out to the members on the basis for the increase in dues, however I can speculate that the much of the discussion will revolve around the economy and the need for the bar to remain solvent. Despite the fear of budget shortfalls amongst members of the bar, for the fast four years the State Bar has been operating with a budget surplus. In 2008-2009 the Board approved a one time twenty dollar rebate to the members in order to spend this surplus down, however in recent years the Bar has used some of these funds to pay for programs that have normally relied on IOLTA or Interest on Lawyers Trust Account funding. Much of this funding has been lost due to the decline of real estate closing funds passing through escrow accounts.

There is some concern that the Bar is going to be called upon to fund two additional prod gams this summer, and this could be a possible reasons why the finance committee has recommended the dues increase. One program is Military Legal Assistance Program that I have worked on for the past two years. This program offers assistance to Servicemen and women finding lawyers to represent them in their area. The other is the B.A.S.I.C.S. program that offers life skills training to inmates getting out of prison to help prevent recidivism. Both of thee programs are existing programs that have been previously funded ad hoc out of the surplus funds.

Presently, under the current Bar Rules there can be no dues increase over twenty five dollars ($25.00) in a year, however any new programs must come with a corresponding bar dues increase to pay for the new costs. These measures have all been put in place to prevent any massive increases.

There will be more information during the meeting.

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