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State Bar Act - 75th Anniversary

All throughout 2014, we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the State Bar Act, which created the State Bar of Texas in 1939. In this timeline, we've collected a variety of historical facts from State Bar history— many important, some just for fun. See something we've missed? Email suggested additions to Public Information Director Lowell Brown at lbrown@texasbar.com.

1868

April 11 — Galveston forms first bar association in Texas Thirty-five lawyers met in Galveston to form the Galveston Bar Association, the first permanent bar organization in the state. The association would serve as the model for the Texas Bar Association. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

1882

July 15 — Lawyers meet to organize state bar association On this day, 69 lawyers met in Galveston for the purpose of organizing a state bar association. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

Dec. 12 — Texas Bar Association officially inaugurated On this day, the Texas Bar Association, the precursor to the State Bar of Texas, was officially formed with approximately 300 members. Judge Thomas Jefferson Devine served as the first president. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

1903

Legislature requires standard written exam for lawyers The Texas Legislature passed laws requiring lawyers to take a standard written examination. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

1930

Junior bar formed The Junior Bar of Texas, a precursor to the Texas Young Lawyers Association, is formed. It joined the Texas Bar as a section in 1936. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

1938

Oil, Gas, and Energy Resources Law Section formed

January—Texas Bar Journal debuts The Texas Bar Journal predates the creation of the integrated State Bar of Texas. The magazine debuted in January 1938 with a 28-page edition. In a letter to readers, then-Texas Bar Association President D.A. Simmons said the publication meant “our Association has become articulate.” (Source: Texas Bar Journal)

1939

April 19—State Bar of Texas created The State Bar Act, which created the State Bar of Texas as an integrated bar, was enacted and quickly signed by then-Gov. Wilbert Lee O’Daniel. The Legislature left implementation of the act to the Supreme Court of Texas. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

May 15—Supreme Court granted full rulemaking power in civil judicial proceedings The 46th Texas Legislature adopted H.B. 108, conferring and relinquishing to the Supreme Court of Texas full rulemaking power in civil judicial proceedings. The court began the process of developing the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. (Source: Legislative Reference Library of Texas)

1940

The 1940s began with the organizational activities of the State Bar of Texas and work on the new Rules of Civil Procedure. Local bars were emphasized as a necessity to a strong organization. Grievance committees were organized, and Gene Alvis was hired as the first full-time investigator. There was an emphasis on the unauthorized practice of real estate brokers, trust institutions, CPAs, and collection agencies. The first legal aid clinics were organized, and there was an attempt to raise dues but it failed. Admission requirements were studied. The Judicial Retirement Act was urged and passed, and there was a call for a new State Court Building. Lawyers concerned themselves with legal economics and the overload of books. In 1943, Fort Worth published the first minimum fee schedule. David Simmons of Houston became president of the ABA, and lawyers returned from the war. (Excerpted from Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

William Carssow named executive secretary William Carssow became State Bar of Texas executive director (then called executive secretary) in 1940 after serving as executive secretary of the Texas Bar Association from 1938 to 1940.

Feb. 22—First set of disciplinary rules approved The Supreme Court of Texas approved the first set of rules regulating the operation, maintenance, and conduct of the bar and the discipline of its members. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

April 8 — Referendum on SBOT rules approved Texas lawyers voted to support a referendum adopting rules regulating the operation, maintenance, and conduct of the bar and the discipline of its members. The Supreme Court of Texas previously approved the rules on Feb. 22, 1940. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

April 19 — First SBOT president assumes office Angus Gilchrist Wynne, Sr.

Wills Point native Angus G. Wynne Sr., who was elected the 59th president of the voluntary Texas Bar Association, became the first president of the new integrated State Bar of Texas. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

April 24 — SBOT Board of Directors holds first meeting The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors met for the first time and elected William B. Carssow as the Bar's first secretary. Carssow had served as executive secretary of the Texas Bar Association since January 1938.

June — Fort Worth hosts first SBOT convention More than 2,000 attorneys gathered in Fort Worth for the first bar convention held after the State Bar Act took effect. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

June 8 — SBOT elects first president Few Brewster

Judge Few Brewster of Temple was declared the winner of the first State Bar of Texas presidential election. L. Hamilton Lowe of Corpus Christi was elected as the new vice president. Brewster traveled extensively throughout Texas to organize local bars and encourage their cooperation and support for the new State Bar. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982; State Bar of Texas)

1941

Judicial Section formed

Simpson serves as SBOT president Gordon Simpson

Gilmer native Gordon Simpson, who served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1923 to 1927, served as president of the State Bar of Texas from 1941-1942. During his time in State Bar leadership, the bar sponsored a meeting of Texas district judges to study the newly promulgated Rules of Civil Procedure, and the meeting would be a forerunner of future annual meetings of district and appellate judges. He went on to serve on the Supreme Court of Texas. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

Bar’s first executive director resigns William B. Carssow, a lawyer and former legislator who served as the State Bar’s first executive director (then called secretary-treasurer) resigned in 1941 to enter the U.S. military service. Carssow was replaced by William J. Park, who served until his death in 1953. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

April 2 — AG ruling enforces bar dues payments On this day, Attorney General Gerald Mann issued an opinion ruling that lawyers who had not paid their $4 registration fee were automatically suspended from the practice of law until the fee was paid. Bar membership rose rapidly until World War II intervened. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

1942

William J. Park named SBOT secretary-treasurer (executive director)

Carter takes office as SBOT president Claude E. Carter

Harlingen attorney Claude E. Carter, a former prosecutor and former member of the Texas House, served as president of the State Bar of Texas from 1942-1943. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1943 Taxation Section formed

1943-44

War thins bar’s ranks At the end of the second year of its existence, the State Bar of Texas had grown to 8,523 members. However, war intervened and the fledgling organization promptly was faced with a membership and leadership drain. … In 1943, at least 1,522 of the State Bar members were in the service, including Bill Carssow, the bar’s executive director, and Gordon Simpson, its president. License numbers dropped dramatically to a low of 75 in 1944. (Excerpted from Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

SBOT president Bell serves bar amid war effort Major 




























Townsend Bell

East Texas native Townsend Bell served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1943-1944, during a time when full aid to the war effort was the bar’s prime objective. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1944-45

SBOT president Dooley supervises first bar roster Joseph B. Dooley

Amarillo attorney Joseph B. Dooley served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1944-1945 and supervised the compilation of the first “Roster of the State Bar.” He would go on to serve as a federal district judge for 19 years. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1945-46

Dallas attorney Bickett serves as SBOT president John Bickett Jr.

Dallas attorney John H. Bickett Jr., a former appeals court judge, served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1945-1946. Before his election as president of the State Bar in 1945, Bickett had served the organization by membership on several committees. As president, he wrote in the Bar Journal that a lawyer’s labor is “to maintain the majesty and the dignity of the law, to substitute the rule of reason for that of force, and to strive worthily as a minister of justice.” (Source: State Bar of Texas)

Annual Meeting canceled for lack of hotel space The State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting was canceled for the first time in 1946, when a lack of hotel space in San Antonio forced the event’s termination. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

1946-47

SBOT president Shepherd stirs interest in local bars James L. Shepherd Jr.

Houston attorney James L. Shepherd Jr. served as president of the State Bar of Texas from 1946-1947. He was credited with reactivating interest in local and district bar associations and helping to secure legislative passage of a bill increasing judges’ salaries. Shepherd would go on to serve as a special advisor to President John F. Kennedy on civil rights matters. (Source: State Bar of Texas)
1947 Labor and Employment Law Section formed

1947-48

SBOT president Chandler supports criminal procedure reforms Henry G. Chandler, Sr.

Plano native H. Grady Chandler served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1947-1948. As president, he supported reforms in the criminal procedure and successfully pushed for a constitutional amendment providing for the retirement with pay of judicial officers. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1948-49

Former Nazi war crimes prosecutor serves as SBOT president Robert G. Storey, Sr.

Dallas attorney Robert G. Storey Sr., who acted as trial counsel to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson in the prosecution of high-ranking Nazi officials in the Nuremberg war crimes trials, served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1948-1949. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1949-50

SBOT president Crowley presides over dues increase in response to fiscal crisis Sawyers A. Crowley

Fort Worth trial lawyer Sawyers Allen Crowley served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1949-1950. He was credited with getting bar dues raised by means of a referendum to save the bar from impending financial collapse. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1950

The 1950s
William V. Dunham was the 10,000th lawyer. St. Mary’s was accredited; a new Bar Building was proposed, financed, and built. Harvey Payne became the first full-time public relations director, and the first full-time general counsel was hired. The Supreme Court Building was authorized. The method of electing officers by city sizes was instituted. Legislative programs included the Probate Code. Several bar dues raise requests failed, and unauthorized practice judgments were upheld in several suits against title companies. The executive director’s title was changed from secretary-treasurer. Lawyers became more connected with legal economics. The first judicial poll was held, and a group insurance plan was instituted. (Excerpted from Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

1950-51

SBOT president Jones helps establish legal aid clinics Albert P. Jones

Houston attorney Albert P. Jones served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1950-1951. During his term, he activately supported the revision of the Texas Business Corporation Act, which the Legislature passed in 1955. Also, the bar adopted for the first time a program of legal aid clinics in all financially viable localities. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

Bar dues increase to $8 State Bar of Texas membership dues doubled to $8, from the beginning rate of $4. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

October—Bar purchases lot for headquarters building During a meeting in Lubbock, the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors voted to buy a lot at 15th and Colorado streets in Austin for a permanent headquarters building. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

1951-52

Youthful SBOT president takes office, plans building in Austin Cecil E. Burney

Riesel native Cecil E. Burney, age 36, became the youngest man ever elected president of the integrated State Bar of Texas in 1951. A surplus of bar funds allowed Burney to originate the idea for a State Bar Building in Austin, which he considered his greatest accomplishment as president. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1952-53

SBOT president Turner takes office, finishes fundraising drive for building J. 
Glenn Turner

Dallas attorney J. Glenn Turner Sr. served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1952-1953. During his term, Turner successfully concluded the campaign to raise funds to build and furnish a new State Bar Building. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1953

William E. Pool named SBOT secretary-treasurer (executive director)

Business Law Section formed

Criminal Justice Section formed

Intellectual Property Law Section formed

SBOT president Looney oversees building completion Everett L. Looney

Austin attorney Everett L. Looney served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1953-1954. During his term, he created the office of general counsel and oversaw completion of a State Bar Building in Austin. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

Dec. 4—Initial SBOT building occupied The initial State Bar of Texas building at 15th and Colorado streets in Austin was occupied on this date. It was replaced by the Texas Law Center in 1976. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

1954-55

SBOT president Gresham helps guide law changes Rupert E. Gresham

San Antonio tax attorney Rupert N. Gresham served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1954-1955. His presidency saw the passage by the Legislature of the Texas Business Corporation Act and the State Courts Housing Bill, as well as the revision of the Texas Probate Code.

1954

First general counsel hired The first general counsel of the State Bar was Earl Hall, who served from 1954 to August 1958. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

1955-56

SBOT president Bullock helps establish president-elect system Maurice R. Bullock

Midland attorney Maurice R. Bullock served as president of the State Bar of Texas in 1955-1956. He initiated changes in the State Bar rules to strengthen disciplinary rules and to provide for better continuity of executive leadership through a president-elect system. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1956

September—TLPP organized The Texas Legal Protection Plan Inc. was organized in September 1956. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

1956-57

SBOT president extends outreach to local bars, smaller cities Newton Gresham

As president of the State Bar of Texas in 1956-1957, Jewett native Newton Gresham was credited with helping lawyers in smaller Texas cities and towns better understand and appreciate the State Bar organization through multiple visits with local bar associations. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1957

Oct. 12—First elected SBOT president dies Few Brewster, a former Supreme Court of Texas justice who served as the first elected president of the State Bar of Texas in 1940, dies at his home in Austin at age 68.

1957-58

SBOT president Seaberry marks 75th anniversary of Texas Bar Association Virgil T. Seaberry, Sr.

Eastland attorney Virgil T. Seaberry Sr. served as State Bar president in 1957-1958. As president, he presided over the 75th anniversary of the Texas Bar Association, strengthened the work of local Grievance Committees, and increased the budget for the Texas Bar Journal. (Source: State Bar of Texas)
1958

Military and Veterans Law Section formed

1958-59

SBOT president Brewster targets grassroots Leo Brewster

As State Bar president in 1958-1959, Fort Worth attorney Leo Brewster worked to bring the bar closer to the grassroots level in part by improving the bar’s public relations program. Brewster was later appointed a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas and served as chief judge of the Northern District from 1972 until his retirement from the bench in 1973. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1959-60

SBOT president Folley oversees revisions of codes, rules Alfred J. Folley

Athens native Alfred J. Folley, a former district attorney and judge who sat on the Supreme Court of Texas from 1945 to 1949, served as State Bar president in 1959-1960. His presidency saw the organization of the bar’s Advisory Council, the completion of a revised Code of Criminal Procedure for Texas, and the final adoption of the amendment to the State Bar Rules concerning the mechanics of submission and passage of convention resolutions, the purpose of which was to prevent passage of resolutions and motions by only a minority of the bar members. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1960

The 1960s
The bar continued to emphasize lawyer economics, and a statewide minimum fee schedule was published. The Keough Amendments and Professional Corporation Acts were passed. Specialization was first proposed; grievance procedures were strengthened and committees were reorganized; the judicial commission was passed; and an ABA Award was granted in 1967. (Excerpted from Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

Family Law Section formed

1960-61

SBOT president Carrington pursues cooperation with bars in Mexico, neighboring states Paul Carrington, Sr.

Dallas attorney Paul Carrington Sr., who served as State Bar president from 1960-1961, used the office to strengthen local bar activity and organize several new multicounty district bars. He helped plan the 1962 combined Texas-Mexico Bar Convention in San Antonio and Mexico City and encouraged cooperation between the State Bar of Texas and the bar associations of neighboring states. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1961

Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Law Section formed

Amsler first woman to receive SBOT President’s Award Margaret Harris Amsler of Baylor University, the first woman law professor in Texas, became the first woman recipient of the State Bar President’s Award in 1961.

1961-62

Kerr serves as SBOT president William L. Kerr

Midland attorney William L. Kerr, a former district attorney and judge, served as State Bar president in 1961-1962. He presided over the joint Texas-Mexico Bar Convention in July 1962. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1962

Jaworksi takes office as State Bar president J. 




























Glenn Turner

Waco native Leon Jaworski, who was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work as chief of the U.S. Army War Crimes Trials Section in the European Theater after World War II, served as State Bar president in 1962-1963. A senior partner in Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski, he went on to serve as president of the American Bar Association (1971-1972) and as special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation (1973-1974).

July—Texas, Mexico bars hold joint convention The joint Texas-Mexico Bar Convention took place in July 1962 in San Antonio and Mexico City, marking the first time in the bar’s history that the annual convention was held outside of Texas. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1963

SBOT president Cole supports legal education Buster 




























Cole

As president of the State Bar in 1963-1964, Buster Cole of Bonham initiated the establishment of the Lawyer’s Weekly Letter and supported the continuation of legal-education endeavors. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

July—SBOT hires first CLE director Gene Cavin joined the State Bar of Texas staff as director of professional development. Under his leadership, the Continuing Legal Education program grew to include a vast number of projects. (Source: Centennial History of the Texas Bar: 1882-1982)

Nov. 22—Judge Hughes swears in new president LBJ Swearing In

After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, federal judge Sarah T. Hughes of Texas swore in Lyndon B. Johnson as president aboard Air Force One. She was the first woman judge to administer the oath of office to a U.S. president. (Source: State Bar of Texas) LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton.

1964-65

SBOT president Cox backs judicial reforms Franklin J. Cox

Cameron native Franklin J. Cox, who served as State Bar president in 1963-1964, focused his efforts on reform of the judiciary branches of government. He helped secure pay raises for judges and supported a statewide study of judicial selection. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1965

Nov. 19—Texas Bar Foundation formed On this day, the charter was issued for the Texas Bar Foundation, which was originally part of the State Bar of Texas. The foundation is now independent of the State Bar. (Source: Texas State Historical Association)

1965-66

SBOT president Small oversees dues increase, bar redistricting plan Charles C. Small, Jr.

As president of the State Bar in 1965-1966, Austin attorney Charles C. Small Jr. worked to activate the Texas Bar Foundation program. Bar dues rose under his term, and a bar redistricting plan increased the Board of Directors membership for the larger metropolitan areas where lawyer concentration is higher. (Source: State Bar of Texas)
1966

Consumer and Commercial Law Section formed

General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Section formed

1966-67

SBOT president Shafer surveys lawyers’ economic status William O. Shafer II

During the 1966-1967 presidency of W.O. Shafer, the State Bar of Texas won the Award of Merit, the highest award given by the American Bar Association to any state bar association. The award was given “for outstanding public service and professional activities.” Shafer, a former district attorney in Ector and Midland counties, undertook an extensive and comprehensive survey into the economic status of Texas lawyers. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1967-68

SBOT president Phillips oversees implementation of new Pattern Jury Charges Thomas M. Phillips

Houston attorney Thomas M. Phillips was elected president of the State Bar of Texas in 1967. During his year in office, the State Bar once again won the ABA’s award as the outstanding bar association in the United States. Phillips’s presidency saw the implementation of a new Pattern Jury Charges, which were published and distributed to the bar, as well as the intensification of an economics program for Texas lawyers. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1968-69

SBOT president Brite expands CLE program Ralph 




























W. Brite

San Antonio attorney Ralph W. Brite served as State Bar president in 1968-1969, when plans and financing were completed for a $75,000 addition to the State Bar Building in Austin. He promoted the enlargement and expansion of the Continuing Legal Education program and presided over a Regional Bar Officers Conference. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1969-70

President Wheat oversees SBOT expansion Josiah Wheat

Woodville native Josiah Wheat served as State Bar president in 1969-1970. His presidency saw the doubling of the bar dues and budget, permitting the first large-scale increase in State Bar activities. The structures of both the Texas Bar Journal and the annual conventions were revamped, and a bar program was instituted for the publication and sale of Texas legal forms and tapes. (Source: State Bar of Texas)

1970-2000 | 2000-2013

Online Sources:

* April 11, 1868—First bar association formed
* July 15, 1882—First state bar association meeting
* Dec. 12, 1882—Texas Bar Association inauguration
* 1903—Standard written exams
* 1930—Junior Bar of Texas
* April 19, 1939—State Bar of Texas created
* May 15, 1939—H.B. 108
* Feb. 22, 1940—Disciplinary rules approved
* April 8, 1940—Rules referendum
* 1939-40—Angus G. Wynne Sr.
* 1940-41—Judge Few Brewster
* 1941-42—Gordon Simpson
* 1942-43—Claude E. Carter
* 1943-44—Maj. Townsend Bell
* 1944-45—Joseph B. Dooley
* 1945-46—John H. Bickett Jr.
* 1946-47—James L. Shepherd Jr.
* 1947-48—H. Grady Chandler
* 1948-49—Robert G. Storey Sr.
* 1949-50—Sawyers Allen Crowley
* 1950-51—Albert P. Jones
* 1951-52—Cecil E. Burney
* 1952-53—J. Glenn Turner Sr.
* 1953-54—Everett L. Looney
* Dec. 4, 1953—Initial State Bar building occupied
* 1954-1955—Rupert N. Gresham
* 1955-56—Maurice R. Bullock
* 1956-57—Newton Gresham
* 1957-58—Virgil T. Seaberry Sr.
* 1958-59—Leo Brewster
* 1959-60—Alfred J. Folley
* 1960-61—Paul Carrington Sr.
* 1961-62—William L. Kerrs
* July 1962—Texas, Mexico bars hold joint convention
* 1962-1963—Leon Jaworski
* 1963-64—Buster Cole
* Nov. 22, 1963—Judge Hughes swears in LBJ
* 1964-65—Franklin J. Cox
* 1965-66—Charles C. Small Jr.
* Nov. 19, 1965—Texas Bar Foundation formed
* 1966-67—W.O. Shafer
* 1967-68—Thomas M. Phillips
* 1968-69—Ralph W. Brite
* 1969-70—Josiah Wheat

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