Do you want cute firefighters to show up when you call 9-1-1?
Pay your taxes.
Do you want to zip along the interstate at 70mph instead of bumbling between towns on dirt roads?
Pay your Taxes.
Do you like getting cards in the mail?
Pay Your Taxes.
Did you get a COVID vaccine?
Pay Your TaxeS.
Do you have a loved one who is on Social Security?
PaY Your TaxeS.
Do you want kids to know how to read?
PaY YouR TaxeS.
Do you think we owe it to our service members to take care of the medical problems they have from protecting us?
PaY YouR TaXeS.
Do you have a passport?
PaY YOuR TaXeS.
Do you want people who make kiddie porn to rot in jail for the rest of their lives?
PaY YOuR TAXeS.
Do you like the National Parks?
PAY YOuR TAXeS.
Do you think NASA is cool?
PAY YOUR TAXeS.
Do you like having free speech?
PAY YOUR TAXES!
(Yes, I know some of these services are paid for by sales and other taxes, but it’s still a tax. If you wish that taxes were included when you see the price of something instead of tacked on at the end or at the cash register, I’m in your boat too.)
Be proud to pay your taxes. If you don’t want to pay taxes, I hope you’re willing to give up everything that your taxes pay for.
Was scratching a check to the government the highlight of my year? No, but I was happy to do it for two reasons:
I want the state and federal government to provide most of the services that my taxes pay for, and
As an entrepreneur, it means I made money.
I have no problem paying my fair share.
Any company or billionaire that flaunts that they don’t pay taxes should be ashamed. All that tells me is that you’re probably a selfish ass.
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I just paid $505 for my Arizona bar dues. That’s right,
Arizona is a pay-to-play mandatory bar. I paid $505 just so I can be a lawyer
for the next year. That’s about $42/month and just under $10/week just so I can
work in my profession.
Now, I’m not opposed to a mandatory bar, as we are a
self-regulating industry. I am opposed to a state bar not giving their members
their money’s worth. I’m definitely not getting $505 worth of value from the
State Bar of Arizona, even with our member discounts.
I have yet to meet a fellow Arizona lawyer who disagrees with me.
One thing that makes me furious with the State Bar is there
need to raise our bar dues from $460 (which was already at the high end of
state bar dues). The Board of Governors approved the raise despite seeing that
the State Bar was forecast to have a multi-million dollar cash surplus at our then
Benefits of the State
Bar of Arizona
Before I continue my rant, let me give credit where credit
is due. There are some benefits to being a member of the State Bar of Arizona (besides
getting to do my job):
Ethics Hotline: The State Bar has a number where you can discuss your ethical questions with a qualified lawyer. They will usually not give you a direct answer to your question (unless it is a black-and-white issue). My first year as a lawyer, my goals were to make a profit and not get disbarred. I was on a first name basis with one of the State Bar’s ethic’s lawyers because I called so much.
Fastcase: I don’t pay for Westlaw or Lexis. I do most of my case law research with Fastcase through the State Bar. It’s not worth $505/year, but it’s a valuable resource.
Arizona Attorney Daily 5: I like getting this email every weekday from Tim Eigo, the editor of Arizona Attorney magazine. It has information about newsworthy legal stories in current events, many of which that are relate to my practice areas.
Conference Rooms: When I started my firm, I used a mailbox at a UPS Store for my address and worked from home. When I had to meet with clients, I used the conference rooms at the State Bar in Phoenix which were free to use. They need a better scheduling system, but it’s useful to those of us who live nearby.
Investigate Ethics Complaints: One thing the State Bar does is investigate complaints against lawyers. If you read the Lawyer Regulation section of our magazine, you know there are some lawyers who either need help, have no business running a law practice, and/or have no business being a lawyer. Someone needs to be the watchdog over us.
Back to Ranting
One thing that annoys the crap of me about the State Bar is
the fact that they charge for continuing education events (CLEs) at their own
facilities. They don’t pay their speakers, so their costs to put on an event is
close to nothing, and yet they charge $54-$149 per person. You will not see me
at one of their CLEs as a speaker or a participant unless they change how they
What I’d Do Differently
If I ran the State Bar, I’d immediately assess the budget â€“
what’s needed and what’s not. When I asked the Bar what our dues pay for, I received
a response that said our dues cover about 60% of their budget. (And don’t
forget that cash
surplus they’re sitting on.)
Additionally, the State Bar should either offer their CLEs
at their facilities for free or pay their speakers. With the money they’re
sitting on, they could bring in some top-notch speakers who are worth every
I don’t know how the State Bar goes about getting discounts
for its members, but I want better ones. They should look for ideas on the Local First Arizona directory to see
if there are companies who might was to partner with the Bar â€“ for office
supplies, office furniture, document shredding, marketing services, and company
shwag. Let’s keep our money supporting our community where we can. I’d also find
value in discounts for airline tickets, a custom tailor, and hotels outside the
Phoenix area, and because I’m concerned about lawyer safety, I’d love to see
discounts for self-defense classes and bulletproof undershirts.
(The one place a
lawyer can’t take their gun is into a courthouse. If someone was targeting one
of us, that would be a place where we’d most vulnerable. I don’t own a gun. I want
a bulletproof undershirt because of the rates of violence against transgender
Putting my Money Where
my Mouth Is
My rule is you can’t bitch unless you’re willing to do
something about it. The minimum I can do is vote in the next Board of Governors
election this spring. For any incumbents, I’ll look at how they voted on the
last bar dues increase. In the candidates’ personal statements, I want to see their
ideas to reduce our bar dues and/or provide greater value to the membership. I
hope my fellow Arizona lawyers will do the same.
Arizona has one of the highest bar dues in the country and it’s a mandatory bar so you can’t be an Arizona lawyer unless you’re a member (although the Arizona legislature may change that this session). We’re also required to complete 15 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) each year, including 3 hours of ethics training.
I just paid $475 for this year’s bar dues. That’s just the price to maintain my license. Â (For anyone who still paying off their law school debt, $475 = 1900 packages of ramen.) The State Bar also offers a variety of CLEs, and recently there have been a few that I’ve been interested in attending either because I wanted the information or I thought it would be a good forum to make connections with other lawyers.
But I’m not going to CLEs that are put on by the State Bar of Arizona and here’s why â€“ they charge for them. Why does the State Bar of Arizona need to charge for CLEs? In my experience, they don’t pay their instructors to teach and they own their building so they don’t need to rent space. So why are they charging $39 to $129 to let their members attend an educational event?
As an outsider looking in, it appears that the State Bar is milking its membership for money any chance it can get. I’m already unhappy with the way my State Bar is running the show. (The legal industry is a self-governing profession and I voted in the last Board of Governors election so I’ve maintained my right to bitch.)
Now there may be a legitimate reason why the State Bar has to charge for CLEs. I responded to a recent announcement about an upcoming CLE with that very question because I am genuinely curious why they charge. If there’s a real reason, I’ll respect it. So far they haven’t responded.
I can’t change the fact that Arizona has a mandatory State Bar (for now) or that we have mandatory CLEs, but I can put my money where my mouth is and get my CLEsÂ elsewhere – like ASU CLE. They don’t pay their CLE instructors to teach either but all the money goes towards law student scholarships. And ASU Law School alums get to choose what they pay – so I could get my CLEs for free if I was so inclined. (Hat tip to ASU Law for thinking about their students educational needs after they graduate.)