Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 45

A

successful organizing effort by a determined group of young lawyers resulted
in a diverse panel - two white women,

two black men, and three white men. Five of

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the seven members were under 40. It was a
surprising exercise of democracy and a major
step toward diversity.

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over major felonies from the federal courts to the
local court system. It also contained a key section
outlining the establishment of a mandatory bar.
Conservative opposition on Capitol Hill in the late
1960s stalled the act, but Richard Nixon threw his
support behind the court reform plan after he was
elected president. He believed the act would
deprive the federal circuit court of its local jurisdiction and influence. Given the blessing of a
Republican administration, the D.C. Court
Reorganization Act was passed by Congress in 1970
and promptly signed into law by President Nixon.
The statute reorganized the courts and outlined a
process for creating a mandatory bar that would
function under the jurisdiction of the newly created
D.C. Court of Appeals. On December 16, 1971,
shortly after the D.C. Court of Appeals had assumed
jurisdiction over the practice of law in the District
from the U.S. District Court, the court appointed
seven members to serve on a newly created organizing committee of the D.C. Bar.
George Avery, one of the original organizing committee members, recalled in a 2002 Washington
Lawyer interview, "We had been appointed by the
court to make this idea of a unified bar happen, and
we sat down and figured out what needed to be
done to do it."
An obvious need was to elect a slate of officers and
a Board of Governors. It was decided that the
purpose of the Bar's first general membership
meeting would be to elect a seven-member
Nominations Committee tasked with nominating
candidates for Bar office, who would then run in a
general election.
Shortly after the Bar came into existence on April 1,
1972, some 1,300 lawyers gathered in the main
ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel to select the Bar's
Nominations Committee. Eighty-seven names were

forwarded for seven vacancies. By the end of the
night, a successful organizing effort by a determined group of young lawyers resulted in a diverse
panel - two white women, two black men, and
three white men. Five of the seven members were
under 40. It was a surprising exercise of democracy
and a major step toward diversity.
In keeping with the goal of recruiting a diverse
group of candidates for the positions of president,
president-elect, secretary, and treasurer, as well as
15 members of the Board of Governors, the
Nominations Committee ensured that a significant
number of minority lawyers and women were on
the ballot.

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The inaugural slate of officers included E. Barrett
Prettyman Jr. as president; Charles T. Duncan as
president-elect (and, thus, in 1973-74, the first black
D.C. Bar president); Peter H. Wolf as secretary; and
Frederick B. Abramson as treasurer (later serving as
Bar president in 1985-86).
The officers were elected on June 20, 1972, and the
following day, Prettyman was sworn in. "Here we
were, suddenly, with more than 15,000 members,
with no office, no executive director, no means of
filing anything, no way of contacting our members,
[and] no place for our members to send their dues,"
recalled Prettyman in a 2002 Washington Lawyer
interview.
In addition to finding office space, hiring an executive director, and taking on the administrative functions inherent in building a new organization, the
officers and the Board of Governors took the steps
necessary to create a vibrant and equitable Bar -
one that stands strong today.

Tim Wells is managing editor of Washington Lawyer.
Sarah Kellogg is a regular contributor.

Alvin M. Guttman, Esq.
(202) 293-3595
www.lawofficespacedc.com


http://www.lawofficespacedc.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - July 2017

Your Voice
From Our President
Calendar of Events
The Bar at 45
Annual Report 2016-17
1970s: Bar Beginnings
1980s: Reagan Reigns, Women Rise
1990s: Re-Envisioning & Expanding
2000s: Strength in the Face of Adversity
2010s: Solidifying the Bar's Future
The Founding of the D.C. Bar
A Conversation with Robert J. Spagnoletti
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 1
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 2
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 3
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 4
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 7
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 9
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 10
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 11
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 12
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 13
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - The Bar at 45
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Annual Report 2016-17
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 16
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 17
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 18
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 19
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 20
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 21
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 1970s: Bar Beginnings
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 23
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 24
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 25
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 1980s: Reagan Reigns, Women Rise
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 27
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 28
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 29
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 1990s: Re-Envisioning & Expanding
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 31
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 32
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 33
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 2000s: Strength in the Face of Adversity
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 35
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 36
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 37
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 2010s: Solidifying the Bar's Future
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 39
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 40
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 41
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 43
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 44
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 45
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - A Conversation with Robert J. Spagnoletti
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 47
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 48
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 49
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 51
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 53
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - 55
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - July 2017 - Cover4
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