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Letters to the Editor

Read your fee statement carefully

I would like to warn my fellow attorneys to once again very carefully read their annual fee bill before they pay it. It is one of the most deceptively written documents I have ever seen and continues to be so despite letters I have written to the State Bar Board of Trustees.

First it lists what your basic fee is, and puts that in the "amount due" column. That's fine. Then it lists several optional contributions one can make, but it lists them in the "amount due" column. If one does not want to support these pet projects, one actually has to write in a zero in the appropriate place and write in a subtotal that matches the initial required amount.

Then it lists four optional deductions, but it does not put these as deductions in the "amount due" column. One has to read the fine print to see these can be deducted, and manually deduct them, unlike the automatic feature of their desired "donations."

I wonder how many attorneys will just tell their secretary, bookkeeper or accountant to "just pay the bill" when they are told it has arrived in the mail.

Elliot Smith
San Geronimo

Editor’s note: The annual fee statement includes a variety of fees. Many, including optional deductions and an optional donation to the Justice Gap Fund, are prescribed by state law. Attorneys who have questions may call 888-800-3400.


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