St. Mary's Law Journal


Ralph H. Brock


The State Bar must provide information for members to assess the propriety of mandatory dues and establish a procedure for members to challenge improper expenditures, however, the Texas State Bar provides no such procedure. Although most states have unified bars, opposition to compulsory bar membership is steady—due largely, to using membership dues to lobby state legislatures in favor of positions which some members may oppose. Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson and Keller v. State Bar of California are the culmination of labor union and unified bar cases which uphold compulsory membership but establish constitutional limits on the uses of mandatory dues. As one of the few unified bars which make no effort to comply with Hudson, the State Bar of Texas leaves itself vulnerable to a lawsuit by its members. Part II of this Article reviews Keller and Hudson, identifying bar activities which may be funded with mandatory dues and discussing procedures available to members objecting to using dues for political or ideological purposes. Part III addresses the functions of the State Bar, examines its legislative policy and activities, and demonstrates how it fails to protect the interests of dissenting members. Part IV suggests the State Bar can protect the rights of dissenters through procedures complying with Keller, ensuring dues are not used for political or ideological activities unrelated to the purpose for which the unified bar was established. Nevertheless, the State Bar’s attempt to limit political and ideological activity is no substitute for procedures required by Hudson: explaining the basis of fees, opportunities to challenge fee amounts, and an escrow for disputed amounts while challenges are pending. In conclusion, the State Bar has an opportunity to avoid litigation by adopting the strategy described in Hudson; the State Bar ignores that opportunity at its peril.


St. Mary's University School of Law