About The Georgia Bar….Union?

The Georgia Bar Association may be the Georgia Bar Union, according to the feeling of some unspecified lawmakers who are looking at the Association’s compulsory dues structure.  Insider Advantage posted the following last week:

The word from Insideradvantage sources at the state capital is that several lawmakers are huddling together to craft legislation that would force the Georgia Bar Association to look “more like an association and less like a union.” Potential legislation would require the Georgia Bar to make their dues voluntary. Historically all attorneys in Georgia have been required to pay with no choice in the matter. The lawmakers, who asked to remain anonymous have said its time the Bar “had to earn its dues like everybody else in Georgia.” This will surely be a hotly debated piece of legislation as it gets closer to the January kickoff of the 2015 session.

That…would be a significant change in the structure of the Bar presumably making membership in the Association and the dues associated with them optional.  This would also further escalate tensions between some members of the legislature and the legal community that seemed to flare up publicly last year during a debate over whether or not medical malpractice lawsuits should be abolished.

Reached last evening for a comment, Senate Judiciary Chairman Josh McKoon said “Compulsory unions are never a good thing, but I’d have to take a look at the bill before making a decision on that policy.”

That doesn’t sound like this idea/rumor is just an idea/rumor.  Tell us what you guys are hearing in the comments section.



  1. JayJacket says:

    Point of clarification: the quote only refers to bar dues, but the commentary suggests both bar dues AND bar membership? It’s one thing to stop the bar from forcibly collecting dues, but it’s another to suggest that lawyer membership (read licensing) would no longer be mandatory.

  2. Bill Arp says:

    This could be because the BAR is about to hear a case that could take Speaker Ralstons BAR license for giving his clients money and asking for it back when they fired him…..or could this be for the BAR investigating Attorney General Olens for knowingly not turning over documents that were clearly discoverable in the ethics case against Governor Deal, OR could this be because the Govs General counsel is being investigated by the BAR for seeking to provide undue influence on the Ethics Commission Director to minimize Deals fines for unethical behavior…..Regardless, this timing just shows how our state government is being run. Every attorney know very well how to conduct their affairs, a fiduciary duty to a client is beat into every budding attorney in Law School. Their is no excuse for our politicians to break these ethical rules of practicing law. Now that they have been caught, they try to do away with the regulating association for the practice of Law……what’s next telling local governments they cannot regulate elections…..oh crap…..maybe that’s a bad example….

  3. Ed says:

    So just to be clear… they would go from having zero oversight of the Bar, having delegated that to the Supreme Court of Georgia, and then creating a separation of power issue between the legislative and judicial branch. And changing the statutes the way the are would effectively contravene the entire point of the Bar.

    I’ll say this, they are always interesting.

  4. objective says:

    those dues can sometimes be a pain, but you do get some benefits for them. the thing is, aren’t union members employees, and exist for collective bargaining purposes? the BAR members are all employed independently, no collective bargaining. but they are regulated, and do have legislative advocacy representation. where does the BAR go to bargain for terms of employment- the Supreme Court?

  5. Posner says:

    “This would also further escalate tensions between some members of the legislature and the legal community that seemed to flare up publicly last year during a debate over whether or not medical malpractice lawsuits should be abolished.”

    Speculation – is this being driven by GTLA (trial lawyers) after the e-discovery bill fiasco last session? The bar committee who drafted the bill + the Chamber was able to get all the language they wanted into the bill over GTLA’s objection, and GTLA had to kill the bill on the floor. As opposed to the med mal bill where both plaintiff (GTLA) and defense (MAG Mutual) lawyers were on the same side (opposed).

    On the merits, this is facially ridiculous. The Bar regulates the licensing of the legal industry (i.e. licensing lawyers). In almost all other industries in Georgia, this licensing requirement (and accompanying MANDATORY fee) is run by the Secretary of State. Nobody is calling the SoS a “mandatory union.”

    Instead of having lawyer licensing go through the SoS, it’s delegated to the Supreme Court, which delegated it to the Bar. The issue that could potentially be compared to a union, lobbying activities, which the Bar does engage in, is funded entirely by VOLUNTARY contributions paid by members.

  6. saltycracker says:

    Making the Georgia Bar Association’s non-mandated membership the profession’s BBB.
    Caveat Emptor takes another leap in a bad place for the general public.

  7. SingingLawyer says:

    What a big fat waste of time. I rather like the state bar and have never thought of it as a union, nor have I ever heard a fellow lawyer compare it to one. It licenses and regulates the profession as Posner mentioned, and it certainly operates as a professional association and not like a union. No one in the actual bar is calling for this, but leave it to the General Assembly to try to muck it up.

  8. dw8928 says:

    Now that is a good idea. The only thing the State Bar serves are the attorney’s working for the big firms having the sole practitioners pay for their swanky office in downtown.

    They even outsource the CLE programs. It is a political action committee in disguise.

  9. Caralibra says:

    This is hilarious. Leave it to attorneys to parse over what is, essentially, a misnomer. The Bar Association is certainly not a union, but it really isn’t an association, either. ‘Association’ infers a voluntary nature, and membership in the Bar Association is not optional to practice law in Georgia. It really is a regulatory agency. So – rename it to the Bar Agency or the Bar Oversite Committee or in the spirit of painfully protracted legislative acronyms call it the BORE (Bar. Oversite. Regulations. Ethics.), which this now has become.

  10. The Comma Guy says:

    There is another reason too:


    Condensed version – the Supreme Court is about to take up an issue where the NC Dental Board, which regulates dentists, is being challenged by non-dentists who did teeth whitening in the mall. Four or five state’s bar associations have filed briefs in support of the dentists arguing that there is no problem with members of profession regulating or policing themselves. This idea could be based on the proposition that the US Supreme Court is going to side with the strip-mall teeth whiteners rather than the dentists and State Bars in the US will go away.

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