Shaping a New WSBA 
May 23, 2012 update 
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green square Special BOG Meeting Results in More Transformational Decisions

The Board of Governors met for a special public board meeting on May 22 to continue its work in light of the fact that WSBA faces a 28 percent reduction in license fees starting in 2013.

The Board continues to weigh all decisions it makes against the WSBA’s mission and guiding principles, which they recommitted to at the April BOG meeting.

Based on the recent completion of a more comprehensive fiscal analysis, they are mindful of not cutting too deep too fast, and maintaining a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to transforming the organization. Over the next couple of years, this process will involve drawing down reserves, bringing the organization’s expenses into alignment with its reduced revenues, as well as finding operational efficiencies, program reductions and implementing strategic restructuring.

The meeting began with the Board first deciding its approach would be to employ a mix of cuts to expenditures and use of unrestricted reserve funds in FY13 to help transition the organization into a new reduced revenue model. This decision is based on a premise that license fees will not increase significantly (or at all) anytime in the near future.

Recommendations carried over from the April meeting voted on at the May 22 meeting:

  • Young Lawyers Division (WYLD) — WSBA reaffirmed its commitment to engage with and support new lawyers, and will begin transitioning the WYLD leadership structure from a Board of Trustees to a standing committee that is connected more broadly across the organization. This will result in a savings of approximately $125,000.
  • Casemaker — WSBA will maintain Casemaker as a free member benefit, and will not institute a charge for use by members.
  • Volunteer Travel Reimbursement – Recognizing the important role volunteers play and the need to ensure participation statewide, the BOG voted to maintain travel reimbursement for volunteers. It remains open to revising expense policies aimed at being more fiscally prudent.
  • Pro Hac Vice Fees — WSBA will move to ask the Supreme Court to increase Pro Hac Vice fees.
  • ABA Delegates — WSBA will continue to fund its ABA delegates at $800 per year for a total of $5,600.
  • Other Expenses Eliminated — $5,000 for, $500 for accommodation fund.

Budget and Audit Recommendations from the May 16 meeting that were approved at the May 22 meeting:

  • Lawyer Services — WSBA will maintain existing funding levels in Lawyer Services while it seeks to move toward a more broad-based and outreach model.
  • Practice of Law Board — WSBA will seek to eliminate funding through license fees for the Practice of Law Board (a board created by the Supreme Court through court rule).
  • Communications — WSBA will place a high priority on efforts to communicate and engage with members and the public. The BOG asked for recommendations by its July meeting on changes to Bar News, which includes exploring a transition to online, and how it fits within WSBA’s overall communications plan.
  • Legislative Program — WSBA will maintain its current staffing and resource allocations to its Legislative Program.
  • Public Service Programs — WSBA will continue to deliver public service programs. Specifically, Home Foreclosure will fold into Moderate Means at the end of next year when the funds from the Attorney General’s office are expended.
  • Diversity — WSBA will continue to invest in Diversity and to develop a strategic, robust program for building cultural competence within the organization and the membership.
  • WSBA Leadership Institute — WSBA will transfer the WSBA Leadership Institute to the University Of Washington School Of Law effective Oct. 1, 2012. The Law School will receive the equivalent of one year’s funding from the 2012 budget ($127,000), to help with this transition.
  • Service Center — WSBA will keep a priority on high-touch customer service to callers.
  • Access to Justice — WSBA will continue supporting the current programming for the Access to Justice Board (a board created by the Supreme Court through court order) while the BOG and ATJ Board ask the Supreme Court for funding to help pay for staffing costs.

With the decisions made by the Board of Governors that are outlined above, the staff Executive Management Team is now working to complete staffing models that have been under development. Those will be presented at the June and July BOG meetings. Importantly, the decisions made at this meeting as well as the April meeting, did not close the gap in expense reductions needed as WSBA heads into FY13. The remainder of cuts will be through reductions in direct expenses and staffing. Some positions will be eliminated as a result of Tuesday’s decisions and others will be eliminated or reduced as a result of additional operational efficiencies and strategic realignments needed to close this gap.

More updates on WSBA’s transformational progress will be provided following the board meeting scheduled for June 8 in Yakima.

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Previous Updates

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May 23, 2012
May 7, 2012
April 24, 2012

Live Chat Transcripts

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June 25, 2012 — with Steve Crossland and Paula Littlewood
May 21, 2012 — with Steve Crossland
April 25, 2012 — with Steve Crossland

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