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14 thoughts on “Petition to Increase Bar Admission Fees
  1. Horalek, Robert L.

    Seems like a bad time to increase fees with the economy in the toilet. Most of us lost a hugh amount in our 401 K’s etc.

  2. T M Willardson

    Regarding the Petition to Increase Bar Admission Fees: The first few fees proposed do not appear unreasonable. However, when the proposal gets down to the readmission fees, from there on the fees are clearly completely unrelated to the alleged ‘increased costs’ of admitting applicants. Using regular application fees to lower student fees is, perhaps, understandable, but charging MORE for a reinstatement (where almost no costs or labor are involved) than for a full testing and application, up to $5000 for readmission of a disciplined attorney, is simply an unconscionable act of vindictiveness. Reinstatement fees should not be any more than an initial admission, and, if reason and equity are considered, should be less. Any attorney who is applying for readmission after being disbarred has ALREADY paid the price for his or her bad decisions. Allowing the admissions process to punish them again is simply mean-spirited.

  3. Charles R. Collins

    The admissions budget should stand on its own and should be paid for by those who seek admission. Some of the rules, however, could be modified to make admissions easier for lawyers already licensed elsewhere.
    For example, the requirement that another state also allow admission by motion causes unnecessary time, money and delay. A simple rule like “addmisions will be allowed by motion if the lawyer is admitted to the U.S.Supreme Court Bar with no discipline”.
    Admission to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar requires 5 years active as a practicing lawyer and proof of good standing. This would make the system quick, easy and less costly.
    Another modification could be that “any lawyer licensed to practice before federal appellate courts and having handle 5 appeals over the last five years” could be admitted by motion. This would also make the admission process cheaper and show legal ability. Most admitted lawyers can not do this with competence.
    Background checks could be resolved by requiring applicants to provide an FBI Clearance at their own costs. The names of applicants could be published with the bar results and comment on fitness permitted prior to admission.
    These are just a few suggetions, but there are many other ways to cut cost and still insure that those admitted are fit and competent.
    C. Robert Collins
    Utah Bar Number 5455
    Arizona Bar Number 015405
    Washington Bar Number 11234
    P.S. I took bar examinations in each state and paid for fitness reports in all. It seemed so much like a waste for me and for the State Bars involved.

  4. Rusty Vetter

    I believe that time is not right for an increase in Bar fees or dues. The Bar has not justified the need for an Admissions fee increase. We are in the midst of the most significant economic downturn in the past eighty years. Legal work has slowed significantly. Many law firms have stopped hiring new lawyers and some have laid-off employees. A significant number of students graduating from law school do not have jobs, and are also burdened with significant school-related debts.
    I am particularly familiar with the Admission process. In 1991, I was appointed as a member of the Bar’s Character and Fitness Committee. In subsequent years, I served as chair or co-chair of the Committees of Bar Examiners’, Bar Examiners’ Review, Character and Fitness, and Admissions. Steve Waterman (Co-Chair of the Admissions Committee) and I led the reforms of the Admission process in 2000 and 2001. Presently, I am serving as a Bar Commissioner and have reviewed in detail the Bar’s information used to support the arguments for the increase in fees. I fully support the excellent work of the people involved Admissions process, but believe that they must be circumspect about any increase in Admissions-related fees.
    Through Admissions, the Bar is carrying out part of its quasi-governmental licensing function. Virtually all governmental entities in Utah have been required to make significant cuts in their budgets during the past year. There is no evidence that any attempts have been made to reduce Admissions-related expenses. As a government attorney and a member of the Bar Commission who represents the interests of government attorneys, the apparent failure to make real efforts to cut expenses is troubling. While it is true that Admissions expenses have increased over time, so has the revenue. Efforts need to be made to keep expenses down and in line with increases in revenue.
    I believe the Court should carefully scrutinize three specific aspects of the Bar’s request to increase Admissions-related fees. First, it has been the practice of the Bar to use excess Admissions income for general Bar programs. According to financial information provided to Bar Commissioners in July, from 1997 through 2009 the Bar collected approximately $225,000 in excess of the expenses for Admissions – those funds were then used by the Bar’s general fund. If the Court approves all the fee increases that are being requested, according to the information given Commissioners, the Bar will collect approximately $218,000 in excess of Admissions expenses for the next five years. Other Bar programs should be self supporting through annual dues or other fees collected. I believe that Admissions fees should only be used to cover the expenses of Admissions and not to fund other Bar programs.
    Second, the information contained in the Petition to the Court does not reveal the same information given to Commissioners in July. The final page of the Petition is a chart (Exh. 16) that shows Admissions-related revenue and expenses. The chart excludes late fees. For the past fiscal year, late fees were $31,600. The late fees should be included when the Bar attempts to show the financial picture of Admissions. Including late fees in the chart submitted to the Court would give the true state of Admissions finances and show that the proposed increase in Admissions fees is significantly more than is required to cover Admissions-related expenses.
    Finally, the Commission was also presented with information that a software fee was going to be increased from $100 to $150 for those taking the Bar exam who are using computers to answer the essay questions. I understand that this is not being presented to the Court because the Bar believes that it is within its discretion to increase this fee without Court approval. The Bar collected $45,435 for the software fee this past fiscal year. Assuming that approximately 450 applicants (likely mostly student applicants) are using computers to take the essay portion of the Bar exam, a significant number of student applicants are going to have a $150 increase in their Admission fee. This is significantly more than the $100 increase that is represented to the Court in the Petition and equals a 33 percent increase in Admissions fees to this group of applicants. Increasing the computer software fee should only be justified if there is an actual increase in the cost in the offering this service by the Bar. No information was provided to the Commission to suggest that there has been an increase in the cost for the software fee to the Bar.
    I support an increase in Admissions fees if it is justified. I don’t believe that the case has been made to support a fee increase. Adequate attempts have not been made to keep increases in Admissions expenses in line with increases in revenue. At a time when so many people are struggling financially, the Bar needs to keep Admissions expenses down. It isn’t appropriate to raise fees only to have those fees pay for non-Admissions related expenses at the Bar. Furthermore, accurate information needs to be provided to the Court so that an informed decision can be made on this issue.
    Thank you for considering my comments.
    Rusty Vetter

  5. M. Kjar

    Mr. Vetter has summed up the argument quite well. I also oppose raising the fees for similar reasons.

  6. Jason Richards

    This is a horrible time to increase the Bar Admission fee. The legal market is hurting this recession and many firms have cut the pay for starting associates. Time is also tough for small firms and solo practioneers (a majority of lawyers). If anything, the fee should be cut or stay constant. The administrative office has already dramatically increased filing fees- hurting business for lawyers and especially hurting clients who foot the bill for these costs. Lets not punish new attorneys.

  7. Jamie Carpenter

    I’m writing to voice my disapproval of the new rate structure for bar exam license fees in Utah. After reading through the report published to support increasing fees, it appears there are several options the committee needs to consider before putting additional burdens onto graduating law students.
    First, the payments of upwards of 15,000 dollars to rent the salt palace for a testing center seems absurd. There are many government buildings in the area that are capable of hosting these exams. These buildings are commonly used by non-profit organizations for events. Buildings owned by taxing district entities (Water Conservancy Districts) have large conference rooms and spaces available for non-profits and other entities that could be utilized by the committee at no cost.
    Furthermore, the fees listed that are increasing (rental of testing center, ceremonies, and 11% increase in testing materials) amount to a very small portion of the budget, but much of this paper focuses on these increases. What is left out of this report is the amount of money spent on salaries, property taxes and building maintenance, which seems to be over 90% of the budget. In a time when the economy is struggling and states are laying off workers to save money, it makes sense that the admissions offices be required to find a way to make their current budget work instead of making it more difficult for a student to afford admission to the bar.
    Perhaps they should look to energy efficiency or tax breaks (non-profit owned tax exempt property taxes) on office buildings, or relocating into more cost effective locations.
    A 25 $ increase in fees may be justified but I see no reason to increase the fees any higher than that.
    Thank you for your time,
    Jamie Carpenter
    Student S.J. Quinney College of Law

  8. Michael Lundberg

    Given that several law students will soon be graduating with no prospects for employment and deeply in debt, this appears to me to be a very bad time to increase bar admission fees.

  9. Nicholas Mills

    Please do not raise the bar admission fee. The fee is already a heavy burden for many graduating students. Increasing the fee, especially with the current economy, seems unfair.

  10. Joseph Silverzweig

    I agree with the points previously raised by other posters, but I feel that considerations of equity and disadvantaging the underprivileged and the unrepresented incoming members of the Bar should also be considered.
    It is my belief that if the bar needs more money for specific areas, it is wiser to increase the membership fees and other fees for those areas, as opposed to the test-taking fees. Admissions is a profitable area of the Bar, which is curious because that income is derived from those least able to provide it. It is perhaps telling that it is the people who are not yet members of the bar and thus have no power over the rules and costs associated thereto are those people which most bear the burden of the Bar’s costs.
    This rule change will disadvantage less privileged law students who may not be able to afford the extra money to use a laptop. Poorer students will be unable to use the laptops that they have experience taking tests with. This is a serious inequity that needs to be considered before raising the costs of the use of laptops.

  11. john christiansen

    As a student, I find it very hard to swallow a 33% increase in bar fees amidst the worst job outlook for new attorneys in decades. It places an undue burden on us.
    I also find it noteworthy that the bar association made no attempt to genuinely qualify the increase in bar fees with the cost of living in the states cited in its report.