September 2012 Bar Bulletin
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From the Desk of the Executive Director

Funding the Bar's Work

By Andrew Prazuch

If you read my July column about the KCBA's annual work plan, you might have wondered where the bar gets the money it needs to accomplish projects such as pro bono support or member services for new admittees.

While KCBA can be seen as many different things depending on which lens you look through (professional membership association, nonprofit charitable organization, education provider, etc.), one thing you may not initially call us is a business. But with a $3-million budget and 32 employees, we are indeed a small business.

If your first reaction to those numbers is, "How on Earth does KCBA do everything it does with so few dollars and people?" you're probably a board trustee or a member of our hardworking staff! But for most members, I think some more details about those numbers would be helpful in better understanding how your bar association operates.

First, some comparisons of KCBA to other metropolitan bar associations. The American Bar Association groups local bars based on membership size. Those in KCBA's range include Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Atlanta, Cleveland, Hennepin County (Minneapolis) and San Diego. Each has an average budget of $3 million and a staff of 34. As of two years ago, the average annual dues for each were $217 (ours are $210).

Next, where do we find $3 million to fund our work? The bulk comes from general membership and section dues, which account for 34% of our funds. Another large portion comes from a grant from our sister organization, the King County Bar Foundation. It raises charitable donations to underwrite pro bono services and diversity programs, a large portion of which goes to KCBA to carry out those efforts under KCBA's management and oversight. This grant accounts for 27% of our total budget.

The two remaining larger sources of revenue come from CLE fees (10% of revenue) and Lawyer Referral Service fees (11%). With LRS, participating lawyers pay a fee to receive referrals, clients pay a fee for a referral, and attorneys who ultimately accept a case pay the bar a share of the fees generated by the case.

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