Bar News - July 15, 2011
New Hampshire Bar Association Budget Q & A
How is the budget created and approved?
The Associationís Finance Committee reviews projections of continued, new, changed or discontinued programming and services and, in conjunction with staff, develops a budget draft for presentation to the Board of Governors for review. Once the Finance Committee has incorporated all Board input, a final proposed budget is presented to the full Board of Governors for approval. The approved budget is presented to the membership through publication in Bar News, and a separate information session for members is held at the Bar Center.
This yearís Budget Information Session is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, 2011.
The Finance Committee (Chaired by President-Elect Jennifer L. Parent) and Management Staff met several times as a committee-of-the-whole between February and May 2011. Individual subgroups of committee members and staff, met separately to focus on the various cost centers and performed preliminary, detailed reviews of the budget performance during the previous fiscal year and expectations for the next fiscal year.
What is the size of the budget? What are the major components?
Please see the accompanying charts.
The 2011-2012 Association budget is balanced, and reflects an anticipated 3.41% revenue growth and 2.45% increase in overall expenses. A conservative, creative approach and dedicated, motivated staff has enabled the budget to retain the capacity for member and public service, in particular though support of Pro Bono and Law Related Education. The budget also absorbs cost increases in health and dental insurances (increase of approximately 10% and 7% respectively), and supports growth in sales of both video and hard copy materials for Continuing Legal Education. In addition, the budget includes the continuation of the Leadership Academy, We the People and Project Citizen initiatives, despite the lost funding for the two latter programs listed. The largest areas of the budget in most service-intensive organizations, including the NHBA, are personnel and space:
Were there any increases in NH Bar Association dues this year?
- Virtually all activities of the NHBA are service-related; hence the single largest expense in the budget is staffing to carry out those services. Of the 38 full-time and 4 part-time positions in the Association budget, 12 are funded in whole or in part by grants.
- Space costs per square foot were significantly reduced in the move to the office condominium at 2 Pillsbury Street. While the amount of square footage, and therefore occupancy costs, increased in the move, more than one-half of the Bar Centerís square footage is now dedicated to member use, and all the space is occupied at a lower per-square-foot cost than the former Bar Center. In addition, the Bar Center, by purchasing the building in 2009, now has significant equity in the asset.
The 2011-2012 approved budget does not include a dues increase. Because the Supreme Court has granted the Bar Associationís request to temporarily suspend certain Court fees (the Public Protection Fund fee and the NHMCLE filing fee for 2011-2012; and held the PCC fee and Lawyer Assistance Program fee level, there is no change in fees from last year.
What is the difference between Association membership dues and Court fees?
For efficiency, as the official keeper of bar membership records in New Hampshire, the Association bills, collects and tracks payment of the mandatory NH Supreme Court fees. A separate statement is mailed with the Association dues bill, and members return the Court Fees (and forms) with the Association dues payment.
How do Association membership dues compare nationally?
- For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee fee remained unchanged.
- The Courtís $10 NHMCLE filing fee, established to offset some of the operational costs of a simplified NHMCLE record access system and reporting process, was again suspended for the 2011-2012 year.
- The NH Supreme Court Public Protection Fee was again suspended for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.
- The NH Supreme Court Lawyer Assistance Program fee designated to fund an independent, staffed Lawyers Assistance Program (established by the Court in 2007 to reduce potential future claims against the Public Protection Fund) remained unchanged.
- The above Court fee structure means that in fiscal year 2011/2012 there is no change in the mandatory cost to practice law in the state of New Hampshire.
The majority of the Associationís revenue (54%) is generated from non-dues sources, and non-dues revenue opportunities are continually sought to minimize the impact on dues. According to information collected by the American Bar Association, NHBA membership dues are in the average range nationally; ranking 13th out of 32 unified state bars in fiscal year 2010/2011. (New Hampshire Bar Association dues should not be confused with the above-mentioned Supreme Court fees, which the Bar collects for the efficiency and convenience of the Court and the members.)
Why does the Association make money on Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
The Bar Associationís CLE program (not to be confused with the Courtís NHMCLE Rule and its administration) is committed to offering high-quality continuing legal education, specific to New Hampshire law, in a variety of formats and covering a wide range of subject and experience levels to meet member needs Ė while generating non-dues revenue for the Association. The pricing of the programs is well below market cost, and participant evaluations indicate consistently high quality and value. The profitability of NHBA-CLE enables the program to extend special pricing for programs or individual situations that require it and to offer some that are necessary but not likely to "break even." When the (steeply discounted) cost of Bar News advertising is taken into account, the Associationís CLE program actually clears a minimal "profit."
What are reserve funds, and how do they work?
Reserve funds are recommended for most not-for-profit organizations, and are used most often to set aside funds to ensure an organizationís long-term viability in the case of unforeseen events, as well as to build funds to pay for future significant capital expenditures or other special projects. This yearís budget anticipates drawing funds from reserves to finalize replacement of an outdated membership software system, to partially offset the increased occupancy expenses resulting from our move to the current location, and to offset the loss of some IOLTA grant funding for the Pro Bono program due to lower IOLTA revenues.
New Hampshire Bar Association Budget Ė FY 2011-2012