IndyBar: Looking Back Before We Look Ahead

The new year will mark the 140th in the history of the Indianapolis Bar Association. Before we move ahead into 2018, take a moment to look back on our roots.

The Beginning

The Indianapolis Bar Association was founded on November 30, 1878, by 40 leading lawyers at the law offices of Dye & Harris.

Among the original members were Benjamin Harrison, who later served as the 23rd president of the United States, and Charles W. Fairban ks, who was vice president of the United States under Theodore Roosevelt. Napoleon B. Taylor was the Association’s first president, with John A. Henry serving as secretary, and John M. Judah as treasurer.

The Association was started “so that we may have a common arena in which lawyers may exchange ideas, maintain the honor and dignity of the profession of law, cultivate social intercourse among its members and increase its usefulness in promoting the due administration of justice.”

Provided for in the Association’s original bylaws were committees on admission, amendments of the law, grievances, liaison with the judiciary and legal education – all issues that remain relevant to today’s law practice.

Did you know?

Annual membership dues were originally set at $20 in 1878. However, numerous complaints caused the association to lower dues to $5 within a year.

The association’s first priority was the formation of a law library and reading room. In 1880, a librarian was hired for $3 per week. By 1910, there were 7,000 volumes available for use by judges, attorneys and students of the Indiana Law School.

The Indianapolis Bar Association office has had five homes: in a building at the corner of Meridian and Ohio streets, then in the basement of the former Indiana National Bank Building in the Market Tower Building at the corner of Market and Illinois streets, in the National Bank of Indianapolis building at Market and Pennsylvania streets and now in the BMO Harris building at Pennsylvania and Ohio streets.•

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