attorney regulation; assessments; membership dues
1. Affirms that to the extent provided in the Arizona Constitution, the Supreme Court has authority over regulatory functions relating to the practice of law, including the regulation of attorneys.
2. Permits the Supreme Court to charge a mandatory assessment from each attorney for purposes of supporting the Court’s regulatory functions.
3. Limits the use of the mandatory assessment collected by the Supreme Court to the following regulatory functions for attorneys under active Supreme Court supervision:
a. Admitting an attorney to the practice of law;
b. Maintaining attorney records;
c. Enforcing the ethical rules that govern attorneys;
d. Regulating continuing legal education;
e. Maintaining attorney trust accounts; and
f. Preventing the unauthorized practice of law.
4. Allows the State Bar of Arizona (SBA) to collect and use voluntary membership dues for activities not outlined above.
5. Mandates that the collection of voluntary dues be separate from mandatory assessments.
6. Requires the Supreme Court to incorporate mandatory assessment monies into its budget.
7. Prohibits any other entity in Arizona from collecting mandatory assessment from an attorney.
8. States that if the SBA accepts any mandatory assessment monies collected by the Supreme Court to carry out any of the mandatory functions listed above, it must:
a. Comply with the open records law (A.R.S. Title 39, Ch. 1);
b. Make a list of all expenditures made with mandatory assessment monies available to the public; and
c. Provide an independent audit of the expenditures.
The SBA was officially created by the Legislature in 1933 through the State Bar Act, which made membership in the SBA mandatory for lawyers practicing in Arizona. In 1973, the Supreme Court adopted rules concerning the governance of the SBA. From 1973 until the State Bar Act was allowed to sunset in 1984, the regulation of attorneys was accomplished through both court rules and statutes. Since the sunset, the Supreme Court has held through Rule the authority to regulate attorneys and exercise oversight over the SBA. Specifically, Rules 31-74 of the Arizona Supreme Court outline the authority of the Court, the organization of the SBA, attorney licensure, requirements for attorneys and the discipline process.
According to the SBA, the first statewide bar association was created in 1895. The Arizona Bar Association was later incorporated in 1906 and in 1912 it began admission procedures for the practice of law. The SBA is governed by a Board of Governors comprised of 30 individuals: four public members (non-attorney), three at-large members appointed by the Supreme Court; 19 attorney members elected by SBA members (by district) and four ex-officio members who are the immediate past president and the three deans of Arizona law schools. The SBA currently oversees 18,250 attorneys (SBA).
Pursuant to Administrative order 2014-79, in 2014 the Supreme Court created the Task Force on the Review of the Role and Governance Structure of the State Bar of Arizona to examine the rules of the Supreme Court on the mission and governance of the SBA. The Task Force’s final report can be found here.
The House Ad-Hoc Committee on Mandatory Bar Associations (Ad-Hoc Committee) met during the 2015 interim and adopted the following recommendations at its final meeting on December 7, 2015:
· The process to determine how SBA member dues are spent in reference to political activity should be more transparent.
· The SBA should adopt an opt-in policy for attorneys who wish to have any portion of their dues used beyond attorney regulation and discipline.
· The Ad-Hoc Committee noted that the Legislature created the SBA with the State Bar Act of 1933. In 1973, the Supreme Court adopted its own rules concerning the governance of the SBA. From 1973 until the State Bar Act was allowed to sunset in 1984, the regulation of attorneys was accomplished through both court rules and the statutory framework. Since that time, the Arizona Supreme Court has asserted a claim to exclusive authority over the regulation of attorneys and the governance of the SBA.
· That legislation be drafted to call on the Arizona Supreme Court to:
¾ Modify its rules related to the SBA to further respect and protect the First Amendment freedoms of Arizona attorneys; and
¾ Establish improved transparency measures with relation to SBA practices and policies.
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¾ Fifty-second Legislature
¾ Second Regular Session 2 Judiciary
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