No, not yet.
The future of Louisiana’s mandatory bar association is uncertain. This is because the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the Louisiana State Bar Association’s “mandatory membership and dues are . . . unconstitutional” because they violate the rights to free speech and free association guaranteed by the First Amendment. See Boudreaux v. La. State Bar Assoc., No. 23-30564 at 26 (5th Cir. Nov. 13, 2023). You can find our full coverage on the Fifth Circuit’s Boudreaux case here.
What does Boudreaux mean for you now?
Am I still a member of the LSBA?
Yes, Louisiana lawyers remain members of the LSBA after Boudreaux. The Fifth Circuit rendered a preliminary injunction preventing the LSBA from mandating that the plaintiff, Randy Boudreaux, be a member of the LSBA in order to practice law. See Boudreaux at 30. But the preliminary injunction applies only to Mr. Boudreaux–not to the rest of us.
Do I still have to pay bar dues?
Yes, Louisiana lawyers still need to pay bar dues as of today. It’s an open question as to whether that will change.
Then what’s changed?
The LSBA cannot compel bar membership if it engages in any communications–however small–that are not germane to the practice of law. We hope that “Wellness Wednesday” tweets are a thing of the past. We hope that it is done with “Secret Santa” projects and Red Mass promotions. But, the LSBA has promised to comply with the First Amendment before and thereafter offended again.
What happens next?
The future for Louisiana lawyers is uncertain. On remand, the Eastern District of Louisiana could issue a permanent injunction barring the Louisiana Supreme Court from mandating membership in the LSBA. Or the Louisiana Supreme Court could moot the issue and do what many other states have done–eliminate mandatory bar membership from our state. Membership in the LSBA would then be voluntary. That certainly is our hope. But for now, we will all have to wait and see what happens next.