Supreme Court Approves New ‘Retired Member’ Classification as a Membership Option
By Carol Manning
The greying of the legal profession has been forecast for many years, and the reality has arrived -- fewer new lawyers entering the profession and the majority of OBA members over the age of 50. On Dec. 5 the Oklahoma Supreme Court approved the creation of a new Retired Member classification, which was overwhelming approved by the OBA House of Delegates at the November OBA Annual Meeting.
Effective Jan. 1, 2018, an Active Member in good standing who reaches the age 70 and is no longer engaged in the practice of law may notify the OBA executive director to request Retired Member classification. Retired Members will be relieved from paying dues and may purchase a subscription to the Oklahoma Bar Journal at a reduced price. Members who were previously classified as Senior Members may change their classification to Retired Member by submitting a written request to the OBA executive director with a statement that he or she is no longer practicing law. Both Retired and Associate Members shall not be voting members. A form requesting the classification change can be found at www.okbar.org.
Also effective after Jan. 1, 2018, all members 70 years of age or older, who are actively engaged in the practice of law, and who are not Senior Members, Associate Members or Retired Members shall pay dues in the amount specified for those in practice for more than three years. Currently, that amount is $275.
OBA Executive Director John Morris Williams said, “OBA membership dues are among the least expensive of state bar associations in the U.S. with no increase since 2004. In researching the OBA’s long-term financial stability, the Strategic Planning Committee found that 12.8 percent of members (1 in 10) had opted to take senior status – enjoying all the benefits of membership without paying dues. The number of new admittees has decreased and will continue to remain down, so the “reloading” effect of new admittees replacing senior members is no longer the case. This change was needed to keep the OBA fiscally healthy and to avoid a dues increase.”
Current senior members will retain that classification unless they request a change; however, no new members will be added.
If you have questions, contact OBA Executive Director Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org, 405-416-7000 or 800-522-8065.
Ms. Manning is OBA communications director.
Rules Creating and Controlling the Oklahoma Bar Association
Article II, Section 2
Members of the Association shall be divided into three four classes, namely, (a) active membersActive Member, (b) senior membersSenior Member, (c) associate membersAssociate Member and (d) Retired Member. No other categories of membership may be allowed. The annual dues shall be paid according to Art. VIII, ¤ 1. Tweedy v. Oklahoma Bar Assoc., 624 P.2d 1049, 1052 (Okla. 1981); R.J. Edwards, Inc. v. Hert, 504 P.2d 407, 415 (Okla. 1972); In re Integration of State Bar, 185 Okla. 505, 95 P.2d 113 (1939).
(a) Active Members. Active Members shall be all members not enrolled as Senior Members, Retired, or Associate Members.
(b) Senior Member. An Active Member in good standing who was seventy years of age as of the first day of January 2018, and previously became a Senior Member by filing with the Executive Director his or her statement, setting forth the month, day and year of birth and requesting Senior Member classification. Thereafter, he or she shall be entitled to all the privileges and advantages of an Active Member in the Association without payment of further dues, with the exception that he or she shall not receive the Bar Journal free of charge. If a Senior Member desires to receive the Bar Journal, he or she shall pay for an annual subscription, the cost of which shall be based upon production and mailing costs. No additional members shall be added to this classification after January 1, 2018. After January 1, 2018, all members who are seventy (70) years of age or older, who are actively engaged in the practice of law, and who are not Senior Members, Associate Members or Retired Members shall pay dues in the amount specified for those in practice for more than three (3) years.
(c) Associate Member. A member in good standing who files, or on whose behalf there is filed, with the Executive Director, a statement that, by reason of illness, infirmity, or other disability, he or she is unable to engage in the practice of law shall become an Associate Member of the Association for the duration of such illness, infirmity or other disability until restored to the former classification. An Associate Member shall not engage in the practice of law or be required to pay dues during such period. He or she may, on annual request, receive the Bar Journal during his or her disability. The member, on causing an appropriate showing thereof to be made to the Executive Director, shall be reclassified to be an Active Member and shall be required to pay the dues applicable thereto beginning January 2nd next following such reclassification and to pay the cost of the Bar Journal during such disability if he or she has elected to receive it.
(d) Retired Member. An Active Member in good standing who reaches age seventy (70) on, or after January 2nd, 2018 and is no longer engaged in the practice of law may notify the Executive Director, in writing, that he or she wishes to be designated as a “Retired Member.” Such request shall include a statement that the member is not engaged in the practice of law in any jurisdiction. Members who request Retired Member classification shall be relieved from paying dues and may purchase the Bar Journal and other member benefits that might be made available at a price equal to the cost to the Oklahoma Bar Association in providing the member benefit. An Active Member requesting Retired Member classification must have reached age seventy (70) prior to January 2nd of the year he or she is requesting to be reclassified to Retired Status and relieved from paying dues. Those members who were previously classified as Senior Members prior to the adoption of this subsection may change their classification to Retired Member if a request in writing is submitted to the Executive Director with a request for the reclassification and a statement that the requesting member is no longer engaged in the practice of law.
(e) Reclassification to Active Membership Ð Showing Competence. Whenever a member seeks restoration to Active Member classification after the lapse of two (2) years or less, he or she may be reinstated as provided in Rule 11.8 of the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings. After the lapse of more than two (2) years, an Associate Member may be restored to Active Member classification upon compliance with Rule 11.1 through Rule 11.7 of the Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings.
(f) Voting Members Defined. Active and Senior Members shall constitute the voting members of the Association. Associate and Retired Members shall not be Voting Members.