Oklahoma Bar Journal

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 johnw@okbar.org, 405-416-7000 or 800-522-8065.

Ms. Manning is OBA communications director.

Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- OBJ 89 pg. 46 (January 2018)