BY BRYN A. PETERSON
As we leave the 2021 WSBA fiscal year behind us and look forward to the 2022 fiscal year (FY 22), I want to honor the hard work and dedication of the 2020-21 Budget and Audit Committee members: Governors Brett Purtzer, Tom McBride, Carla Higginson, Matthew Dresden, Lauren Boyd, and P.J. Grabicki. I would also like to give special thanks to past-Treasurer Dan Clark, who has done a remarkable job over the past two years and has been very generous with his time over the last year to prepare me for this role as WSBA treasurer. It is also very important to honor the hard work and dedication of CFO Jorge Perez, Executive Director Terra Nevitt, and everyone who works at the WSBA. Over the last two years, the WSBA reserves have grown approximately $3.6 million, even in the face of the pandemic. It really does take everyone at the WSBA to achieve such an amazing result.
I would also like to thank all the governors willing to serve on the Budget and Audit Committee for FY 22. The Budget and Audit Committee is a huge time commitment and a challenge, but also very satisfying. During FY 22, we expect to face many challenges due to the uncertainty of the post-COVID-19 world. What will the coming year look like for the WSBA and how will it affect the financial future of our organization? How many of the WSBA’s staff will continue to work remotely, or at the office full-time, or in some combination of the two? Will the WSBA be able to sublet some of its office space to defray the cost of rent through the remainder of the current lease (which expires in 2026)? This and many other questions will be answered this year, and the answers to these questions will help to determine the financial future of the WSBA. Throughout the year, we will work together to meet these challenges in a way that produces the best result for you, the WSBA members.
A LOOK FORWARD: COMPLETION OF THE 2022 BUDGET
The Board of Governors passed the final version of the FY 22 budget at its September meeting. Here is a quick snapshot: The general fund portion of the FY 22 WSBA budget (see chart below) calls for $21,526,859 in expenditures and $21,437,297 in revenue. While this means there is an anticipated deficit of $89,562, we are confident that we have budgeted conservatively—especially considering the uncertainty created by the pandemic. The WSBA will closely monitor revenue and expenditures over the year and work hard to cap any deficit at the budgeted number or reduce it. It should be noted that over the last two fiscal years, the WSBA budgets have projected deficits but the actuals at year-end put it in the black.
2022 LICENSE FEES, KELLER DEDUCTION, AND PER-MEMBER SECTION CHARGE
The WSBA Board of Governors voted to keep member license fees flat for FY 22. Lawyer license fees have remained flat for the last four years, even though WSBA expenses have increased each and every year. If you think of the WSBA like a retired person on a fixed income, with expenses continuing to increase each and every year, it is truly remarkable that we have been able to keep license fees flat for the last four years. Once again, an amazing accomplishment that must be credited to the hard work of everyone at the WSBA. This does not happen by accident!
The WSBA Board of Governors set the 2022 Keller deduction11In Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990), the Court ruled that a bar association may not use mandatory member fees to support political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services. at $9.02 for active lawyers, as compared to $3.85 for 2021 and $1.55 for 2020. Upon the recommendation of WSBA staff, the Board also voted to set the per-member section reimbursement charge22This charge is the amount that sections reimburse the WSBA for the cost of supporting sections. at $18.75, as compared to $18.23 for 2021. The ability to set this per-member section reimbursement charge at the $18.75 amount is in large part due to WSBA Advancement Department Director Kevin Plachy and his team’s hard work to reduce costs and make changes to increase the efficiency within this department.
In closing, it is very important to me that we continue to put members front and center, which means demonstrating value and responsibility in all that we do at the WSBA. I look forward to being your treasurer this next year and facing the many challenges that FY 22 will present.
FISCAL YEAR 2022 BUDGET
General Fund Expenses by WSBA Programs & Services
A. Licensing and Admissions Services
13% Costs to administer admissions and annual licensing processes for nearly 40,000 WSBA members including lawyers, LPOs, and LLLTs; to maintain and respond to questions about members and their public information; and to support the Supreme Court-mandated MCLE Board, which adjudicates issues involving continuing legal education requirements. $2,739,537
B. Outreach and Engagement
3% Supports WSBA outreach to the public, legal professionals, bar associations, policymakers, and other stakeholders in order to enhance volunteer recruitment, raise awareness and understanding of WSBA programs and priorities, and create a sustainable stakeholder network. $726,303
C. Management and Operations
30% Includes costs associated with the WSBA Board of Governors, leadership, management, and internal support (finance, administration, and human resources). $6,358,710
D. General Counsel
5% Legal representation and support to the WSBA, the Board of Governors, and other boards, task forces, and committees; records requests and litigation management; and oversight, interpretation, and analysis of WSBA Bylaws and other legal issues. $996,039
E. Legislative and Law Improvement Efforts
1% Supports work with WSBA leadership and sections to formulate positions on legislation, track relevant legislation during session, and provide technical advice on bills and existing statutes to the Legislature. $271,935
F. Discipline and Disability Systems
29% Costs to handle consumer inquiries; to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate written grievances about lawyers, LPOs, and LLLTs (e.g., costs associated with disciplinary counsel, hearing officers, and the Supreme Court-mandated Disciplinary Board); to administer the WSBA audit program; and to educate members and law students about legal ethics, trust account compliance, and the discipline system. $6,306,945
4% This category includes costs to develop, design, produce, and distribute WSBA print media and publications, including Washington State Bar News, the WSBA’s official publication. $876,195
H. Supreme Court-Mandated Boards and Programs
2% Costs to support four of six boards and programs mandated by the Supreme Court: (1) Access to Justice Board; (2) Limited License Legal Technician Board; (3) Limited Practice Officer Board; and (4) Practice of Law Board. Costs associated with the Disciplinary Board and MCLE Board, which adjudicate regulatory issues, are included in the Licensing and Admissions Services and Discipline and Disability Systems categories. $516,805
I. Member Benefits
1% Includes costs of programs benefiting the WSBA’s membership as a part of their annual license fee: (1) legal research tool (Fastcase); (2) monthly CLE programs (Legal Lunchbox™ Series); (3) the Professional Responsibility Program; (4) the Member Wellness Program; and (5) a confidential 24/7 member assistance program (WSBA Connects). $282,184
J. Public Service, Diversity, and Washington State Bar Foundation Support
5% Costs to support (1) WSBA public service programs (including Moderate Means Program, Call to Duty, and other pro and low bono initiatives); (2) work to advance diversity and inclusion in the legal profession; and (3) administrative costs of the Washington State Bar Foundation, which provides grant funding for these activities. $971,061
K. Sections Administration
1% Includes staffing and administrative costs to support 29 sections, and to help sections develop “mini-CLEs” that are not offset by per-member charge revenues. $290,307
L. Member Services and Engagement
6% Includes costs of outreach, education, training, and support to newly admitted WSBA members. Also includes funding for the WSBA’s mentor programming. $1,190,837
1. In Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990), the Court ruled that a bar association may not use mandatory member fees to support political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.
2. This charge is the amount that sections reimburse the WSBA for the cost of supporting sections.