Louisiana Record

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Attorney Boudreaux challenges mandatory bar membership due to organization's advocacy role

Attorneys & Judges

By Zeta Cross | Aug 12, 2019

Boudreaux vs Louisiana | Goldwater Foundation

Louisiana lawyer Randy Boudreaux is suing the The Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) because he does not think that membership should be mandatory. 

Boudreaux says joining the state bar association and paying dues should be a choice – not a mandatory obligation for attorneys in the state. Louisiana is one of 30 states in the nation that requires compulsory membership in a state bar association. The LSBA charges dues of $200 a year, and attorneys who fail to pay are disciplined and can even be disbarred. 

The LSBA’s mission is “improving the quality of legal services and regulating the practice of law,” the lawsuit states. However, the work of the association goes beyond that mission, the lawsuit maintains.

Lana Venable | lana venable

The LSBA’s legislative committee regularly takes positions on bills that come up before the legislature, which is the problem as Boudreaux sees it. He claims member dues are being used to support specific political positions.

“Forcing members to pay for other people’s political speech is against the First Amendment,” Boudreaux says. “The bar association is not a bad organization. It is the principle of compelled speech that is bad.”

Lana Venable, executive direcor of the Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, says Boudreaux’s concerns merit further discussion. 

“This move addresses the concern over mandatory membership in an organization that takes policy stances on issues versus acting as a regulatory body,” she said in an email statement. “The Louisiana State Bar Association has taken positions on issues such as reducing the jury threshold, which arguably goes beyond its scope."

When it comes to policies that the LSBA supports, Boudreaux says it’s 50-50 whether he agrees or disagrees with positions that the LSBA takes. Boudreaux supports the LSBA’s efforts to uphold gay rights, for example, while he opposes mandating the high school civics credit that incorporates the current free enterprise requirement. 

“There is no big position they took that is over the line with me,” Boudreaux says. “I just don’t think it is right that members have to pay for their advocacy." 

Boudreaux said his lawsuit has earned him some attention, as many people, including complete strangers – people from across the political spectrum – have contacted him to thank him for filing the lawsuit. 

Boudreaux’s legal practice focuses on real estate and insurance issues. He has been a practicing attorney in Louisiana for 23 years.

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