Bar News - September 20, 2013
New Hampshire Bar Association Budget Q&A
How is the budget created and approved?
The New Hampshire Bar Associationís Finance Committee reviews projections of continued, new, changed or discontinued programming and services. In conjunction with staff, a draft budget is presented to the NHBA Board of Governors for review. Once the Finance Committee has incorporated all board input, a final proposed budget is presented to the full board 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. (See inset for details).
The Finance Committee, chaired by then-President-Elect Jaye Rancourt, and NHBA management staff met several times as a committee-of-the-whole between February and May 2013. 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 2013-2014 NH Bar Association budget is balanced and reflects an anticipated 6.56 percent increase in revenue and 6.10 percent increase in overall expenses.
A conservative, creative approach and dedicated, motivated staff have enabled the budget to support high-quality programming and services to benefit a broad range of members. The budget supports growth in sales of online offerings for NHBA Continuing Legal Education and includes the continuation, at either the same or reduced levels, of the Leadership Academy, Civics in Action, We the People, and Project Citizen initiatives, despite the loss of funding for the two latter programs and significantly decreased funding for Civics in Action.
The largest areas of the budget for most 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 36 full-time and two part-time positions in the associationís budget, 10 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 St. in Concord in 2006. While the amount of square-footage, and therefore occupancy costs, increased with 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.
Were there any increases in NH Bar Association dues this year?
The 2013-2014 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 2013-2014), and held the Professional Conduct Committee fee and Lawyer Assistance Program fees level, there is no change in court fees from last year, either.
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 NH Bar Association bills, collects and tracks payment of the mandatory NH Supreme Court fees. A separate invoice is delivered with the association dues bill, and members return the Court Fees (and forms) along with the association dues payment.
For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee fee remained unchanged at $195 for active members/$10 for inactive members.
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 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The NH Supreme Court Public Protection Fund fee remained suspended for the 2013/2014 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 at $15/$5 (active/inactive members).
The above Court fee structure means that in fiscal year 2013/2014, there is no change in the mandatory cost to practice law in the state of New Hampshire.
How do NH Bar Association membership dues compare nationally?
The majority of the associationís revenue (55 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 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. (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 bar 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 educational sessions that are necessary but not likely to ďbreak even.Ē When the (steeply discounted) cost of Bar News advertising is taken into account, the Associationís CLE program actually recognizes a minimal ďprofit.Ē
What are reserve funds and how do they work?
Reserve funds are recommended for most nonprofit 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 and to improve the NHBA website.
NH Bar Association Approved Budget
Where the Bar Associationís Total Revenue
for 2013-2014 Comes From
How the Bar Association Total Annual
Resources Will Be Allocated in 2013-2014