Our History

The Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) has a long and stellar history serving the public good and the law – including founding several groundbreaking programs. Read some of the highlights here, or download the expanded history (pdf) from the Association’s 80th Anniversary event in 2012.

“… The course society takes can be so affected by the course we lawyers steer.  May what we have done so far stand not only as a compass setting for us in the future but also, through us, as a beacon for those around us . - Martin H. Webster, President 1969-1970

 1930’s:

  • BHBA founded to represent Westside attorneys, with 22 members (1931).
  • Arthur L. Erb, who established the first law office in Beverly Hills, selected as BHBA’s first President.

1950’s

  • Membership exceeds 400 members, 4th fourth largest voluntary bar association in the state; 2nd largest in L.A. County (1954).
  • BHBA hosts 1st judicial reception honoring the California Supreme Court (now the Supreme Court luncheon), attended by 400 California dignitaries and luminaries (1954).
  • USC/BHBA Institute of Entertainment Law & Business (originally “Business and Legal Aspects of the Entertainment Industry”) is initiated by BHBA. Programs presented at UCLA through 1957 (1954).
  • Institute of Entertainment Law & Business moves to USC (1958).

1960’s:

  • Beverly Hills Junior Bar (now the Barristers ) established for members under age 37 or licensed less than 10 years.
  • Offices established at 139 S. Beverly Drive (1967).
  • Tracy Schumacher hired as 1st Executive Secretary.
  • Membership grows to 1375 members.
  • U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark speaks at the annual Law Day celebration attended by the Justices of the Ninth Circuit.
  • Lawyers' Wives of Beverly Hills (now Law Guild of Beverly Hills) founded to encourage spouse participation in the legal community and community service (1967).
  • Governor Edmund G. Brown and Tom Brokaw speak at Barristers luncheons (1967).
  • Beverly Hills Bar Association Journal debuts under then-President Daniel Weber. Contributors have included statesmen, judicial officers, prominent actors, judges and justices (1967).
  • BHBA Board of Directors vote to begin scholarship program to provide financial aid to minority law students (now the Beverly Hills Bar Foundation ) (1967).
  • Governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown speaks at April monthly meeting (1968).
  • L.A. County Board of Supervisors approve addition of law library to new Beverly Hills library (1968).

1970’s:

  • BHBA’s partnership with black bar association Langston Law Club (now the Langston Bar Association) is 1st in country to implement jointly-taught high school legal education, focusing on equality and diversity issues (1970).
  • World Peace Through Law Committee created to work for the establishment of an International Criminal Court (1970).
  • BHBA establishes Public Counsel, 1st public interest law firm established and funded by a bar association in the United States (1970).
  • Past President G. Bentley Ryan’s efforts to establish a courthouse in Beverly Hills are realized with the dedication of the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse (1972).
  • Association incorporated as a California non-profit corporation (1972).
  • BHBA becomes 1st metropolitan bar association in California to be led by a woman president, Norma Zarky (1976).
  • Public Counsel gives first William O. Douglas Award to Archibald Cox, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, former Solicitor General of the United States and Watergate Special Prosecutor; Gregory Peck is Master of Ceremonies at Award dinner (1976).
  • Barristers receives grant to recruit and train paralegal advocates for mental hospital patients, later becoming Mental Health Advocacy Project (1976).
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association joins BHBA’s public interest law firm, Public Counsel (1977).
  • Past President Edward Rubin is 1st member to be elected President of the State Bar (1977).
  • Senator Edward M. Kennedy honors BHBA for establishing scholarships to assist minority law students, and praises the Association for its early establishment of lawyer fee arbitration panel (1979).

1980’s

  • Lobbying program implemented to provide leadership on justice system issues. BHBA Sections and Committees frequently comment on proposed draft legislation and influence important legislative efforts (1980).
  • BHBA is nationally recognized for its commitment to the public good with ABA’s Award of Merit (for Family Law Mediation program) and Harrison Tweed Award (for Public Counsel) (1990).
  • Past President Bert Z. Tigerman is 1st member to be elected Chair of the Executive Committee of State Bar Conference of Delegates (1982).
  • Louis B. Fox named Co-Executive Director of BHBA; later full time Executive Director. He serves until his retirement in 1996 and remained involved until 2008 (1984).
  • BHBA Foundation now supports Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles; Bet Tzedek Legal Services; Mental Health Advocacy Services; Blue Car Project; Citizens Law School; Roxbury Park Seniors Program; and more (1989).

1990’s

  • Bert Tigerman, a Past President of Association and Barristers, becomes Executive Director; serves until January, 2004 (1996).

2000’S

  • 70th Anniversary black-tie gala honors eminent civil litigator David Boies and “Law and Order” executive producer Dick Wolf (2001).
  • President-Elect and Interim Executive Director Marc Staenberg leads BHBA to all-time high levels of membership, sponsorship and activity – a strong recovery after embezzlement by former controller (2004).
  • Travel program commences. Tours to Cuba, Israel, China, Vietnam follow; as do annual member delegation trips to U.S. Supreme Court swearing-in (2005).
  • BHBA presents “Lawyers Without Rights” exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance, about disbarment of Jewish lawyers in 1931 Germany (2005).
  • President Cynthia Pasternak launches Working Parents Project, first of its type at any bar association in the country. Work Life Balance Committee is now a standing Committee (2006).
  • 75th Anniversary marked with a gala black tie Ball celebrating its activism, accomplishments and achievements. Thirty-one living Past Presidents honored (2006).

2010’S

  • Festive “Party in the Park” celebrates 80th Anniversary (2012).
  • BHBA moves into BHBA Center , stunning new 10,000 square foot offices in Rolex Building at 9420 Wilshire Blvd. Bench and bar leaders, legislative representatives and business leaders attend ribbon-cutting (2012).

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