Member Groups

Senior Lawyers
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Section on Senior Lawyers

June 2011, vol. 2, no. 1

Senior lawyers at the Bar

As we age, we are visited with things in our life that are not pleasant—the sore knees, the fading memory, and for many of us, the loss of hair, etc. With the baggage that comes with aging, we should be entitled to some benefits. The organized bar does provide certain positive opportunities simply because of age. This article will discuss special provisions for senior lawyers within the Illinois State Bar Association, as well as accommodations on registration fees and dues with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

There are various categories of membership with the Illinois State Bar Association, all of which track the registration status a licensed attorney has with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

There are four ISBA membership categories that will most likely be of interest to senior lawyers and these categories are: Active members, privileged members, retired members, and inactive members.

Active members, pursuant to the by-laws of the ISBA [1.1 (a)], are members of the legal profession licensed to practice law, who either reside in the state or practice in the state.

Privileged members [1.1 (c)] are those who have paid dues to the ISBA continuously, without interruption, for 25 years and who have reached the age of 75 years.

Retired members [1.1 (d)] are those former active ISBA members of at least five consecutive years who have elected to be treated as retired status by the ARDC.

Inactive members [1.1 (e)] are former active members of at least two consecutive years who are designated as holding inactive status by the ARDC.

Active members, by definition, pay membership dues on a scale based on years in practice. For example, members in practice 20 or more years are currently set at $320 per year.

Privileged members, respectfully to our senior status, pay no dues whatsoever and receive full membership privileges.

Retired members, excluding judges, law school faculty, and otherwise gainfully employed lawyers of the profession have an annual dues obligation of $50.

Inactive members pay $55 in dues.

Also, and because of the sensitivity of the governance of the Illinois State Bar Association over the years towards senior counselors, lawyers in extremis, lawyers with handicaps and disabilities, etc., our wonderful state-wide bar association has a program dealing with dues reduction for senior lawyer ISBA members. This dues reduction program applies to all lawyers. The implementing resolution of the by-laws [A.5.] states as follows:

At the discretion of the executive director, a dues waiver may be granted for severe financial hardship upon verified written request by the member applicant satisfactorily providing the following information:

(a) current financial status;

(b) current state of health;

(c) current employment status;

(d) date of admission to the bar;

(e) any other relevant material information.

If granted, the term of such dues waiver shall be for no more than one year at a time. A request for dues waiver may be renewed. Section fees may not be waived or reduced. Receipt of a waiver will have no effect on the recipient’s eligibility to fully participate as an ISBA member. Any member granted a dues waiver will be provided with a certificate to attend up to three ISBA-sponsored Law Ed programs free of charge.

As to the registration fees with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and relative to senior lawyers, the following should be enlightening:

Fees are excused for a lawyer who has reached age 75 at the start of the registration year (Supreme Court Rule 7569a)(3)).

Any attorney may elect inactive status or retirement status by written request to the ARDC. Attorneys on retirement status for the entire year pay no annual registration fee; similarly, attorneys on inactive status for the entire year pay a reduced $105 annual fee, as opposed to the full $289 fee. (Supreme Court Rule 756(a)(5)). Retired attorneys are relieved of the annual registration obligation; inactive status lawyers continue to register annually.

Attorneys on inactive or retired status may be exempt from MCLE requirements. (Supreme Court Rule 791(a & b)). Deferred MCLE requirements may pertain upon resumption of active status. (Supreme Court Rule 791(e)). Contact the MCLE Board for more complete MCLE information.

Retired or inactive status attorneys may nonetheless provide pro bono services under defined prerequisites, which include delivery of services without charge under the auspices of a qualified sponsoring entity and compliance with its training requirements. (Supreme Court Rule 756(j)). ■


The basis of the information contained in this article was garnered from the ISBA, and more specifically, Melinda Bentley, First Assistant Counsel and Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs (and an extraordinary professional) and from Jerry Larkin, (a most competent) Administrator at the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Both of these offices are available to answer questions of any lawyer, especially senior lawyers, with questions regarding his or her status and variables that are of interest to those of us long in the tooth.