The State Bar’s Board of Trustees is recommending a fee increase for California lawyers in 2020 and in future years. In fact, the Board “set the fee increase as the agency’s number one legislative priority.” Under the proposal, licensing fees will increase approximately $430 for 2020.
The Board of Trustees is seeking the increase in order to cover the State Bar’s operating deficit. According to a news release, the “State Bar projects an operating deficit of approximately $19.5 million and an overall deficit of $32 million in 2020, well beyond available reserves. Absent a fee increase next year, drastic cutbacks in operations and programs would be necessary.”
According to the State Bar’s news release, the Board authorized State Bar staff to work with the legislature on a fee increase request that includes the following elements:
- Up to a 30 percent increase–$100–in the annual license fee for active attorneys in 2020, plus an annual adjustment in future years for inflation, to close the State Bar’s structural deficit.
- A one-time fee of up to $250 to replenish reserves and fund infrastructure—both capital improvements and technology investments.
- A one-time fee of up to $80 to assure solvency of the Client Security Fund, the State’s only vehicle for financial restitution to victims of attorney fraud. The fund pays victims who have lost money or property due to theft or dishonesty by a California lawyer. The boost is needed because of a spike in claims caused by the loan modification crisis.
- Fee-scaling options to lessen the impact of a fee increase on attorneys below certain income thresholds, with those details still to be finalized.
More information on the actions taken by the Board of Trustees at its March 15 meeting is available at this link: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/News-Events/News-Releases/board-of-trustees-authorizes-fee-increase-request
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