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California Bar May Cut Federal Lawyers Slack for Late Fees

Jan. 18, 2019, 9:55 AM

California may give federal lawyers a break over the financial impact of the partial government shutdown.

The state’s bar will consider Jan. 24 waiving late penalties on regulatory fees needed to register and practice law.

“These attorneys have not been paid in weeks and we hope this small financial relief will lessen the strain being put upon them,” California Bar Executive Director Leah Wilson said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg Law.

The details of the proposal haven’t yet been posted on the bar’s agenda, and no solid figures were available on how many of California’s more than 250,000 attorneys work for the federal government.

In 2016-17, there were 37,146 general attorneys employed by the government, including those who work for the departments of Justice, Commerce, and Treasury, the nonprofit National Association for Law Placement reports.

Federal courts have gotten creative in cutting costs and funding operations since the shutdown affecting a number of agencies began Dec. 22.

Elsewhere, New York and Florida aren’t considering any late fee waivers for federal lawyers going without paychecks.

Washington State Bar Association-adopted policy and Washington Supreme Court rules “do not provide for any discretion to waive or defer payment of license fees, late fees, or mandatory assessments,” spokeswoman Jennifer Olegario said.

The District of Columbia is taking a long view.

“Our dues season is on a later schedule. Our late fees kick in July 15. We are hopeful this will be resolved by then. However, we will consider different options as that time draws near,” D.C. Bar spokeswoman Andrea T. Williams said in an email.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Crawley at