Monday, April 4, 2011

Sticking it to the solos

State Representative Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton) has authored a bill (HB1072) that would exempt attorneys employed by the State of Texas from having to pay "membership" fees to the State Bar of Texas. The bill is being promoted as a cost saver for the state.

The bill has passed out of the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee this past week.

According to the fiscal analysis, there are 1522 full-time attorneys employed by the State of Texas. Each of those attorneys pays annual dues of $235 to the State Bar for the privilege of being an attorney in the Lone Star State. The passage of the bill will result in the State Bar's losing $357,670 a year for the next five years (assuming that the number of attorneys employed by the state remains constant).

Since the State of Texas pays the annual dues for the attorneys it employs, the bill would save the state $357,670.

The Comptroller of Public Accounts, however, says there are 2,778 attorneys employed by the State so the actual loss to the State Bar would be $652,830 a year.

The problem is the State Bar is going to want to recover that money from someone. And who would that someone be? Every attorney in private practice - or working for local governmental entities. Since firms tend to pay the membership dues of the attorneys working for them, the people who will be hurt the most are solo practitioners who have no one else to pay their bills.

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