Bar News - August 20, 2014
NH Bar Association Budget Q & A
How is the budget created and approved?
The NH Bar Association 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 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 NH Bar Center.
NHBA Budget Info Session
Thursday, Sept. 18
NH Bar Center
2 Pillsbury St.
by Friday, Sept. 12,
if you plan to attend.
This yearís budget information session is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18 at the Bar Center.
The Finance Committee, chaired by then-NHBA President-Elect Lisa Wellman-Ally, managers and financial staff met several times as a committee-of-the-whole between February and May 2014. 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 2014-2015 NHBA budget is balanced, and reflects anticipated 1.85 percent increase in revenue and a 2.11 percent increase in overall expenses. A conservative, creative approach and dedicated, motivated staff have enabled the budget to retain the capacity for member and public service, in particular through support of the New Hampshire Pro Bono System and Law Related Education. The budget supports growth in sales of online offerings for Continuing Legal Education and includes the continuation of the Leadership Academy, Civics in Action, We the People, and Project Citizen Initiatives, despite the lost funding for the three latter programs listed.
The largest areas of the budget in 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 39 full-time and six part-time positions in the association 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 Street. 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 office and meeting room space in 2009, now has significant equity in the asset.
Were there any increases in NH Bar Association dues this year?
The 2014-2015 approved budget does not include a dues increase. 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 2014-2015). The Professional Conduct Committee fee was increased by $10 for active members, and the Lawyer Assistance Program fee was increased by $5 for active, judicial and inactive members, with the exception of inactive retired members, whose fees remained level.
What is the difference between NHBA membership dues and court fees?
For efficiency, as the official keeper of bar membership records in New Hampshire, the 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. This year, the Bar Association offered online credit card payments, which have been well-received by the membership.
For the 2014/2015 fiscal year, the NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee fee increased to $205 for active members and remained at $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 2014/2015 fiscal year.
The NH Supreme Court Public Protection Fund fee remained suspended for the 2014/2015 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) increased to $20 for active, judicial and inactive members, but remained unchanged at $5 for inactive retired members.
Pro Bono, military and honorary members are not assessed NH Supreme Court fees.
How do our 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. (New Hampshire Bar Association dues should not be confused with the above-mentioned Supreme Court fees, which the association 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 Supreme 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 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.