Sunday, May 19, 2019

Texas Attorney General sides with lawyers challenging mandatory bar membership

As you may remember I have been following the news about attacks in several states to the notion of a "unified bar."  See here and here, for example.  Lawsuits have been filed in Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon and North Dakota. 

In one way or another, all the lawsuits are claiming that the states' requirement that attorneys join the state bar association is an unconstitutional violation of attorneys' First Amendment rights to free speech and association.  More specifically, they argue that lawyers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the state bar’s activities through mandatory membership dues if they don't agree with those activities for ideological or political reasons. 

For example, in the lawsuit in Texas, the plaintiffs are alleging they do not want to be forced to subsidize the state bar's diversity initiatives, access to justice programs and programs that help prevent deportations, and that promote legislative drafting and advocacy.

The most recent development on this topic is that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed an amicus brief that sides with the plaintiffs in the case in Texas.  He is the only AG to have taken this step so far in all the states where lawsuits have been filed.

Like I said in one of my previous posts, this is becoming the biggest topic in Professional Responsibility this year and the results of these lawsuits could have tremendous repercussions on how the profession continues to be regulated as well as on the viability of state programs that promote access to legal services.

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