The CLEVELAND BAR ASSN. (CBA) was founded on 22 Mar. 1873 at an organizational meeting led by John W. Heisley and SAMUEL E. WILLIAMSON and attended by 51 other lawyers. SHERLOCK J. ANDREWS was elected president; John W. Heisley, James Mason, and John C. Grannis, vice-presidents; Virgil P. Kline, recording secretary; Lyman R. Critchfield, corresponding secretary; and GERSHOM M. BARBER, treasurer. The purpose of the association was "to maintain the honor and dignity of the Profession of the Law; to cultivate friendship and acquaintance among members of the Bar and to increase their usefulness in aiding the administration of justice and in promoting legal and judicial reform." The CBA has sought to accomplish these objectives primarily through committee activity. They have investigated misconduct of lawyers, judges, sheriffs, and police. Occasionally these investigations have led to resignations and/or disbarment.
In 1922, in an effort to keep partisan politics out of judicial races and to encourage the election of what it considered to be qualified candidates, the CBA polled its membership and arrived at a list of endorsed or "preferred" candidates for the bench. This endorsement, known as the "bar slate," has since been publicized by local newspapers. The CBA has also held public forums and debates on various legal issues, including Prohibition, vote fraud, and divorce laws; its surveys have led to recommendations for adjustments in municipal court procedures, particularly in the instance of backlogged cases. The association has aided people whose civil rights have been violated and endangered. In 1955, for example, CBA lawyers voluntarily defended a number of local residents who had been indicted as subversives under the Smith Act. The Cleveland Bar Assn. was instrumental in the formation of the Ohio State Bar Assn. (1880), and supported the organization of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY BAR ASSN. (1927). By 1995 the Cleveland Bar Assn.'s membership numbered over 5,200. Randy Orr served as executive director for the CBA; offices were located at 113 St. Clair Ave.
Brady, Thomas J. The First 100 Years (1973).