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Bar News - August 17, 2016

NH Bar Association Operating Budget Q & A
NHBA Budget Info Session
Thursday, Sept. 15
2-3 p.m.
NH Bar Center
Lower Level Seminar Room
2 Pillsbury St.
Concord, NH

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 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 NHBA Board of Governors for approval.

The approved budget is presented to the membership through publication in Bar News, and at a separate information session for members held at the Bar Center. This yearís NHBA Budget Information Session is scheduled for September 15, 2016 from 2-3 p.m. at the Bar Center CLE Seminar Room, in the lower level at 2 Pillsbury St. in Concord.

The Finance Committee, chaired by President-elect Scott Harris, and association management staff met several times as a committee-of-the-whole between February and May 2016. Individual subgroups of committee members and staff met separately to focus on the various cost centers and to perform preliminary, detailed reviews of budget performance during the previous fiscal year and expectations for the next fiscal year, incorporating the organizationís strategic plan.

What is the size of the budget? What are the major components?

Please see the accompanying charts.

The 2016-17 NH Bar Association budget is balanced and reflects an anticipated 2.54 percent increase in revenue and a 2.37 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 though support of the New Hampshire Pro Bono Referral 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, despite 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 facility costs. 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 three part-time positions in the association budget, 11 are fully or partially grant funded.

Space costs per square-foot were significantly reduced in the move to the office condominium at 2 Pillsbury St. 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 Association, 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 2015-2016 approved budget does not include a dues increase.

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 several years, the Bar Association has offered online credit card payments, which have been well received by the membership.

For the 2016-17 fiscal year, the NH Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee fee remained steady at $205 for active members and $10 for inactive members.

The Courtís $10 NHMCLE fee, established to offset some of the operational costs of a simplified NHMCLE record-access system and reporting process, was incorporated into the dues and court fees invoice sent at the beginning of the fiscal year.

The NH Supreme Court has again granted the Bar Associationís request to suspend the Public Protection Fund fee for the 2016-2017 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 $20 for active, judicial and inactive members, and $5 for inactive retired members.

Pro Bono, military and honorary members are not assessed NH Supreme Court fees.

How do NH Bar Association membership dues compare nationally?

The majority of the Associationís revenue (54 percent) is generated from non-dues sources. Non-dues revenue opportunities are continually sought to minimize the impact on dues. According to the American Bar Associationís 2013 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 Bar collects for the efficiency and convenience of the Court and NHBA 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 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 does not expect to be drawing from reserves.

NH Bar Association Approved Budget

NHLAP: A confidential Independent Resource

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