History

In 1788, as this new country headed west into the Northwest Territory, the quickly growing area along the banks of the Ohio River known as Cincinnati became incorporated, becoming a city. By 1870, the population of Cincinnati had grown to 200,000, as Cincinnati became known as the “Queen City.”

 

Cincinnati began to gain an active voice in the legal community and in national government. Cincinnati native William S. Groesbeck, an attorney with Judge Vachel Worthington's practice, gained national prominence when he defended President Andrew Johnson in 1868, before the U.S. Senate, from an impending impeachment. Another prominent Cincinnati lawyer, Alphonso Taft, continued this legal tradition in our nation's capital, serving as the secretary of war and attorney general for President Grant. Also, the 19th president of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, began his practice as an attorney in Cincinnati.

 

At an informal meeting, some of Cincinnati's finest attorneys contemplated the concept of an association for members of the legal profession. On Wednesday, January 24, 1872, the concept was quickly approved by the lawyers and the Cincinnati Bar Association was established. With just 75 members, the Cincinnati Bar Association called its first official meeting on February 27, 1872, where its constitution and by-laws were adopted and the membership was set at a fixed fee of $10. The CBA elected its first president, Alphonso Taft, and established the association's first five of many committees to come. The five committees were the Executive Committee, the Committee on Grievances, the Committee on Investigation, the Committee on Judiciary and Legal Reform and the Committee on Membership. The CBA determined as its objective “to maintain the honor and dignity of the Profession of the Law, to cultivate social intercourse and acquaintance among the members of the Bar, and to increase their usefulness in aiding the administration of justice and in promoting legal reform.” And for more than a century, the CBA has strived to serve the profession and the community.

 

Since its inception in 1872, many memorable accomplishments have been achieved by the association and its members. In 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes was elected as the 19th president of the United States. William H. Taft, son of CBA President Alphonso Taft, was inaugurated as the 27th U.S. president in 1909. The association helped open and dedicate the Hamilton County Courthouse in 1919. A new plan for judicial selection was approved in 1930. Twenty years later, the permanent staff and offices of the CBA were established in the Hamilton County Courthouse by Martha Perin. In 1954, the CBA, working in conjunction with the Cincinnati Academy of Medicine, adopted the Joint Statement of Principles, which served as the model for other U.S. cities. The Cincinnati Bar Foundation was established in 1961, and remains today the only law-related charity in Cincinnati. During the turmoil of the civil rights movement, the CBA provided volunteer defenders for indigents during civil disturbances.

 

The Cincinnati Bar Association has survived three major floods in 1884, 1937 and 1997. It has seen the Mt. Adams incline built and torn down. It has watched a city grow into a major metropolitan community. The CBA has withstood the tests of two world wars, the depression, the assassinations of our nation's presidents, prohibition, the civil rights movement, five different office locations and three executive directors.

 

Yet through it all, the CBA remains one of the nation's oldest and largest local legal associations and continues to serve the profession and the community. Today, the CBA boasts some 4,500 members and 60 committees, including committees where CBA members work together to enhance the legal community. It is the active participation of today's CBA members that continues the traditions of Alphonso Taft, Rufus King, George Hoadly, John W. Herron, George R. Sage, Thomas B. Paxton, Stanley Matthews and the remaining 68 members of the 1872 Cincinnati Bar Association.

 

For more information on the Cincinnati Bar Association, please contact us at (513) 381-8213.

 

Latest CBA NewsUpdated Oct 22, 2014Upcoming Events
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