Treasurer’s Report > WSBA Sections Finance and Budgeting Explained



The sections of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) are, collectively, one of the most important channels for assisting in the development of laws impacting the practice of law and advancing legal education and other resources in the state of Washington. WSBA sections play an integral role in the administration of justice. Some of the most profound changes to law, court rules, and practice have been shaped by WSBA sections. WSBA sections are created by the Board of Governors, but volunteer leaders, elected by section members, comprise sections’ executive committees. 

The WSBA has 29 sections that represent specific practice areas or commonalities among members. Sections represent the gamut of law practice, from Administrative Law to World Peace Through Law. 

To provide services to its members, WSBA sections charge voluntary membership dues (ranging from $20–$40 annually), which in turn provide funding for member benefits such as access to free and discounted CLEs, professional networking events, newsletters, coursebooks, and access to list serve communities. The WSBA maintains separate financial records for each section and is responsible for all aspects of the fiscal administration of sections, including collection of dues and facilitating payments to support section activities. 

In addition to normal programmatic expenditures, sections reimburse the WSBA for the cost of administering the various sections through an annual Per-Member Charge (PMC), which is calculated using a portion of WSBA staff time and overhead expenses attributed to support of the sections. The current PMC is $17.66 per section member. The WSBA staff, following a standing calculation policy adopted by the Board of Governors, calculates the PMC annually and the Budget and Audit Committee reviews and approves the charge. The PMC includes the salaries and benefits of employees that directly support WSBA sections: two-and-a-half full-time equivalent (FTE) staff members and a portion of an FTE in finance for processing section financial transactions such as expense reports, invoice payments, and donations. 

It is important to note that the PMC does not include any staff salaries or benefits for work performed related to section mini CLEs (events that offer no more than two CLE credits and tuition limited to $35), or half-day, full-day, or multi-day CLE programs. Expenses for CLE registration processing or any other work related to CLEs (i.e. marketing and advertising) are not included in the PMC.

Per the WSBA Fiscal Policy, sections also split net revenue earned on continuing legal education programming developed in partnership with WSBA CLE. The fiscal splits apply to half-day, full-day, and multi-day CLEs. The net revenue earned, after the deduction of direct and indirect expenses, on both live and on-demand CLEs is split between WSBA CLE and the section in partnership with which each CLE was developed. The first $8,000 of net revenue is split 50 percent to sections and 50 percent to the WSBA, and any net revenue over $8,000 is split 35 percent to sections and 65 percent to the WSBA. WSBA CLE also supports sections in the development of mini CLE programs. The sections retain all revenue earned through the development of mini CLEs, less minor direct expenses (i.e., accreditation fee of $12 and webinar fee of $100). Sections are not charged for the indirect costs (i.e., overhead or salaries) associated with supporting mini CLEs. It is important to note that any costs charged for CLE development under the section split fiscal policy are not included in the PMC. 

Beginning in fiscal year 1994, the Board of Governors directed that WSBA section reserve funds be established and maintained to carry over from year to year. Section reserves are accumulated when total revenue is greater than total expenses, resulting in a net surplus for the year. Having reserves allows sections to build up funds for larger investments if needed and helps to ensure financial viability for operations in the future. 

WSBA section leadership receives monthly financial reports and is responsible for establishing a budget that must be approved by the Board of Governors as part of the WSBA’s annual organization-wide budget. The fiscal year 2024 section budget process launched at the beginning of May; draft budgets and requests to change membership dues must be submitted by July 3. A section may make additional changes, after the budget has been submitted, up until Aug. 18. I strongly encourage WSBA sections to email all budget documents to the sections program team at: The final fiscal year 2024 budgets will be reviewed by the Budget and Audit Committee in August and will be presented to the Board of Governors for approval in September. 

Even though WSBA sections provide numerous resources to their dues-paying members, the advocacy and groundbreaking work sections embark upon are for the benefit of the WSBA as an organization and the legal profession throughout the state of Washington. WSBA sections are platforms for statewide law and court reforms. Section members help the WSBA live its mission as a champion of justice. Join a section of your choice by visiting—you will not regret it. 

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For a summary of the WSBA’s financials for the first quarter of FY 2023 (Oct.–Dec. 2022), see page 712 of the materials from the Board of Governors March meeting at

About the author

Francis Adewale is the WSBA treasurer and can be reached at