Vol. 41, No. 3

Highlights from the recently released 2016 State and Local Bar Benchmarks

In December 2016, the ABA Division for Bar Services released its 2016 State and Local Bar Benchmarks: Membership, Leadership, and Governance report. Below are just a few highlights:

  • The average membership of unified state bars has increased by 7%, and the total budget by 1.6% since 2015. 
  • The average membership of voluntary state bars has increased by 3%, and the total budget has decreased by 2.6% since 2015.
  • Almost 1/3 of voluntary state bars and 16% of local bars reported their membership had declined by 1%-3% during their last membership cycle, consistent with 2015 data.
  • Eighteen percent (up from 15% in 2015) of unified state bars, 42% (up from 30% in 2015) of voluntary state bars and 20% (down from 29% in 2015) of local bars have increased their dues within the last year.
  • The number of bars requesting demographic information on their dues or fees statements has increased somewhat significantly since 2015. Forty-seven percent (up from 38% in 2015) of unified state bars, 74% (up from 60% in 2015) of voluntary state bars, and 64% (up from 51% in 2015) of local bars now collect demographic information.
  • The percentage of all bars, particularly state bars, offering free CLE has increased consistently since 2013, but has leveled off in 2016. All voluntary and most (84%) local bars also offer reduced-fee CLE to members.
  • The average size of board of governors of unified state bars is 31; of voluntary state bars, 36; and of local bars, 19.
  • Most unified state bar governing bodies meet 4-6 times per year. About 1/3 of voluntary state bars meet quarterly. Small local bars are more likely to meet more frequently—35% meet monthly.
  • An average of 37% of unified state bar members, 53% of voluntary state bar members, and 44% of local bar members belong to at least one section.


(Note: If you have questions about this publication, or if your bar completed the survey but misplaced its discount code, please contact Joanne O’Reilly.)