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June 15, 2014
Board adopts Bar’s budget

With a further reduction in expenses of $254,000, the Board of Governors has given final approval to the Bar’s 2014-15 budget.

The board, at its May 23 meeting in St. Augustine, accepted the recommendations presented by outgoing Budget Committee Chair David Prather and incoming Budget Committee Chair Michael Higer to change the budget that the board initially approved at its March meeting.

Michael Higer Higer said the additional reductions came after additional budget review by Bar Executive Director John F. Harkness, Jr.

The spending reductions, Higer said, will reduce the “on paper” deficit for next year from nearly $1.1 million to around $832,000, but he also reminded the board that the Bar takes a cautious approach to its finances.

“Expenses are conservatively estimated high and revenues are conservatively estimated low,” Higer said. “We did the same thing last year where we expected a deficit of $1.1 million and we’re headed right now for $1.5 million to the good.”

The largest budgeted reduction came from cutting $57,000 for a website consultant for work that is not expected to be needed until the following year. Other savings came from cutting staff travel budgets, having some expenses paid with surpluses from the 2013-14 budget, and combining job responsibilities to avoid hiring new staff.

The 2014-15 budget now calls for expenses of around $41.5 million as compared to $40.3 million for 2013-14.

An official notice with a complete breakdown of the Bar’s 2014-15 budget, prior to the adjustments,

Member fees are expected to raise $25.5 million in the 2014-15 budget, compared to an expected $24.9 in the current budget year and $24.3 million in 2012-13.

The largest expense continues to be the regulation of the profession, which includes the grievance program, ethics, professionalism, lawyer advertising, the Attorney-Client Assistance Program, and Membership Records. Those expenses will be budgeted at nearly $18 million, of which $13.9 million is for the grievance program and ACAP, which handles intake for the grievance program. That amount is up about $200,000 over the projected cost for the current year for the regulation of the profession.

Communications with the public and Bar members, which includes the Bar’s Public Information department and the Journal and News, is budgeted at $4.5 million next year, compared with nearly $4.3 million this year.
The Bar expects to bring in $6.8 million from CLE courses, selling legal publications, and other member services, which will substantially offset the costs of around $7.2 million.

About $2.4 million, or $25 per member, goes to the Clients’ Security Fund.

[Revised: 12-10-2014]