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Bar News - October 19, 2012

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.

The Finance Committee (chaired by then President-Elect Larry Vogelman) and management staff met several times as a committee-of-the-whole between February and May 2012. 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?

The 2012-2013 Association budget is balanced, and reflects anticipated 2.76 percent reduction in revenue and 2.20 percent decrease in overall expenses. (Please see the accompanying charts.)

A conservative, creative approach and dedicated, motivated staff have enabled the budget to retain the capacity for member and public service, in particular, support of the New Hampshire Pro Bono Referral Program and Law Related Education.

The budget also absorbs cost increases in health and dental insurance premiums (increases of approximately 11 percent and 2 percent, respectively), and reflects growth in sales of online offerings for Continuing Legal Education. In addition, the budget includes the continuation of the Leadership Academy, Civics in Action, We the People and Project Citizen initiatives, despite the lost funding for the two latter programs, and significantly decreased funding for Civics in Action.

The largest areas of the budget in service-intensive organizations, including the NHBA, are personnel and space.

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 37 full-time and 5 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 with the move, more than half of the Bar Centerís square footage is now dedicated to member use. In addition, the Bar Center, by purchasing the office condo and meeting room space in 2009, now has significant equity in the asset.

Were there any increases in NH Bar Association dues this year?

Once again, the 2012-2013 approved budget does not include a dues increase. Because the NH 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 2012-2013) and held the Professional Conduct Committee 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 invoice is mailed with the Association dues bill, and members return the court fees (and forms) along with the Association dues payment.

For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee fee remained unchanged at $195/$10 (Active/Inactive status).

The Courtís $10 NHMCLE filing fee, established to offset some of the operational costs of a simplified NHMCLE record access system and reporting process, remained suspended for the 2012-2013 year.

The NH Supreme Court Public Protection Fund fee remained suspended for the 2012/2013 fiscal year.

The NH Supreme Court Lawyers Assistance Program fee designated to fund an independent, staffed Lawyers Assistance Program (established by the Court in 2007) remained unchanged at $15/$5.

This Court fee structure means that in fiscal year 2012/2013 there is no change in the mandatory cost to practice law in the state of New Hampshire.

How do Association membership dues compare nationally?

The majority of the Associationís revenue (52 percent) is generated from non-dues sources. Non-dues revenue opportunities are continually sought to minimize the impact on dues. According to information collected by the American Bar Associationís 2011 State and Local Bar Membership, Administration and Finance Survey, NHBA membership dues are in the average range nationally; ranking 11th out of 33 state bar associations. (NHBA 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 Bar members.)

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 subjects 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 educational sessions 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 recognizes 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 improve the NHBA website and to offset the loss of some IOLTA and LSC grant-funding for the Pro Bono program.

NH Bar Association Approved Budget Ė FY 2012-2013

Where the Bar Associationís Total Revenue for 2012-2013 Comes From
How the Bar Association Total Annual Resources Will Be Allocated in 2012-2013

If you have questions about the NHBA budget, please direct them to Jeannine McCoy, NHBA Executive Director; or Paula Lewis, Director of Finance and Information Technology.

A Budget Information Session will be held at the Bar Center in Concord on November 15 from 2:00-3:00 p.m.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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