Shaping a New WSBA - April 24 Update

As a result of the passage of the member referendum lowering license fees to $325, the Board of Governors and staff leadership have already begun addressing the necessity of reducing WSBA’s 2013 budget by $3.6 million —  or, 28%. The process involves reviewing everything we do and how we do it, with one end goal in mind: Build a more effective and efficient bar that WSBA members value and the public trusts.

We want you to know what we know

We received lots of feedback before, during, and since the referendum – compliments, questions, criticisms, and ideas. Understanding what we heard is the first key to responding. Here are some key themes that emerged from the input:

  • The economy is tough, and a reduction in fees means something to my wallet.
  • WSBA is too big and its expenses are too high.
  • WSBA has strayed from its mission and should not take positions on issues that are more political in nature than they have to do with the administration of justice.
  • WSBA should only provide core regulatory functions.
  • WSBA is relevant to a small few – and they’re mostly in Seattle.
  • WSBA doesn’t listen to its members.
  • WSBA is using our money to build a reserve it doesn’t need.
  • WSBA should leave practitioners alone. It provides no value.
  • WSBA spends too much on diversity and access to justice programs, programs that don’t benefit most members.

We still need your input!

Please keep those ideas coming at This is your Bar and we’re listening.

What is the Board of Governors (BOG) saying so far?

  • It is committed to a strategic, thoughtful and thorough process, while recognizing there is a need to move more quickly than in previous budget cycles.
  • It heard the membership. Change is coming. Things will not be business as usual.
  • It is confident the bar is in good hands as it embarks on this critical budget-reduction process, backed by the strong leadership of its Executive Director, Paula Littlewood.

What happens next?

Phase One: The Budget and Audit committee will recommend a series of budget reduction measures to the Board of Governors at their April meeting.

The Budget and Audit Committee has approved, and will submit a series of budget reduction measures recommended by senior leadership that can be decided, and acted upon swiftly to begin reducing the Bar’s footprint – and impact. These recommendations will be voted on at the April BOG meeting, and include: spending down $1 million in unrestricted reserves in each of 2013 and 2014; cutting approximately $1.3 million in annual, non-mission-critical expenses; and evaluating new revenue streams. Read the memo from the Budget and Audit Committee.

Phase Two: The BOG has to answer the BIG question!

Before the Bar Association can implement long-term change, the Board of Governors must weigh in on the pressing policy question:  In light of the referendum, Will WSBA adhere to its mission or will it revise its mission and no longer support certain principles and programming?

The Board of Governors will take up this question at its April meetingMeeting materials are always posted online, usually one week before the meeting.

Phase Three: Prepare to build the new WSBA

With policy guidance from the BOG, the Executive Director will then lead a thorough evaluation of all functions against mission, values, industry standards and best practices. During this phase, we’ll be making difficult choices, cutting programs, and re-aligning staff resources around the Bar’s newly refined priorities. We stand committed to doing this with integrity, compassion, and the best interests of the public, our members, and our staff. We’ll post updates as they become available.

We're Listening!

Send us your feedback. Questions, criticisms, ideas — we want to hear it!

About the License Fee Referendum

Live Chat Transcripts

Didn't make it to the live chat? Read the transcripts.

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

If you have comments, email us!