Notice of Proposed Bylaws Amendment
Pursuant to Article XIII, Section 3 of the Bylaws, this shall serve as notice of a proposed amendment to the NACDL Bylaws. On October 27, 2012, at a regularly scheduled meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Board of Directors voted to submit this proposed change to the membership.
Proposed Bylaw Amendment
This bylaws amendment changes the definition of New Members in Article IV, Section V, as follows:
Section 5. -New Lawyer Membership
New Lawyer Membership in the Association shall be available to attorneys of professional competence, integrity and good moral character who are actively engaged in the defense of criminal cases and who have been admitted to the Bar for
less than three (3) yearsfive (5) years or less, and who pay dues to the Association in an amount established by the Board of Directors. A New Lawyer member may vote in all general membership matters.
Action Report of the Bylaws Committee
A Membership Survey conducted last year found that cost is a major reason for our declining membership, especially in this membership category. At the end of three years, one is no longer a New Member and so the cost of remaining in the NACDL rises sufficiently that the Association is losing members. By lengthening the period of three years to five years for a New Member the cost remains the same as at the time of initial entry into the Association. Moreover after five years the attorney is better situated financially to afford the increased member dues as one transitions form the New Member category.
The Membership Survey led the Membership Committee to conclude that changing this definition would not significantly affect revenue. Over the past three years our conversion rate from New Lawyer members to Regular members has been about 35% of the roughly 90 3rd year New Lawyers per year. That amounts to about $4100.00 increase in revenue from those members that transfer to New Lawyer and renew – that is the amount we would expect to lose each year going forward. But we also expect that if we increase the number of years we offer the New Lawyer rate, retention of those members might not match our overall rate, but it might easily increase to 65% or more if member attorneys in their fourth year were not faced with an increase of $310.00 to their dues amount. That would more than offset the lost revenue from members converting to regular, at around $4560.00. Holding on to those members, albeit at a lower rate, might also ultimately increase the retention rate of New Lawyers transitioning to Regular members because they will be more established in their careers.
In addition, if the New Lawyer rate is available to attorneys in their fourth and fifth years of practice, we might attract more members who are interested in joining NACDL, but not ready to invest $299.00.
The bottom line is that there is a relatively low risk to dues revenue in making this change, and it could even turn out to be a positive. Of course assuming the this proposed bylaw amendment passes, the staff will monitor the conversion rate going forward very closely.