Founded in 1786 and incorporated in 1907, the New Haven County Bar Association is a nonprofit professional organization of over 1,400 New Haven area judges, attorneys, paralegals, law students, and other legal professionals that provides educational, social, and other services to its members.
On June 27, 1907, eighteen prominent New Haven lawyers obtained a charter for the New Haven County Bar Association, which was incorporated by a Special Act of the General Assembly. The charter stated that the NHCBA would exist "for the promotion of social, intellectual, and such other pursuits as will uphold and perpetuate the best standards of the legal profession." While the charter also stated among its purposes to establish and maintain a permanent headquarters and a law library, it seems that the "social, intellectual and ... other pursuits" aimed at promoting the best standards of the profession were probably paramount at the time.
In the 1920's diversity increased within the New Haven Bar. Irish, Jewish, and Italian surnames became common during the next 20 years or so. Black migration to New Haven began gradually after the Civil War and increased significantly after World War I ended. Yale Law School, founded in 1843, was joined by the University of Connecticut Law School in 1921.
The 1930s were the high point of NHCBA’s musical and dramatic life. Its Choral Club often performed at the Taft Theater and, with the end of the Prohibition in 1933, a good time was had by all. The public merriment ended with the start of the Second World War. Many lawyers left their profession for military service and those who were in law school postponed their education until the conclusion of the war.
After the conclusion of World War II, changes took place in New Haven and the practice of law. The New Haven County Bar Association dealt with the "Red Scare" in the 1950's. Notably, in the late 1960's NHCBA dealt with the notorious trial resulting from the fatal shooting of Black Panther Alex Rackley. Another Connecticut law school was founded in 1973. The Wethersfield School of Law would later move to the University of Bridgeport School of Law and, in the 1990s, become the Quinnipiac University School of Law. The NHCBA also underwent major changes with the integration of women into the profession.
Today the NHCBA supports its members in many ways, including hosting continuing legal education programs, providing new attorney mentoring opportunities, encouraging professionalism, chairing several committees, offering annual social events, publishing a quarterly newsletter, and fostering relations between its members and the courts. The NHCBA also sponsors the New Haven County Lawyer Referral Service and monthly Ask a Lawyer clinics at area libraries.
Membership is open to any attorney who works or resides in the Greater New Haven area, and to those paralegals, law students, legal administrators and others who qualify under the Associate Member guidelines.
The Bar Association also works closely with its charitable arm, The Foundation of the New Haven County Bar, which provides community outreach and educational programming.