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Dade County Bar History:  A Time Line

1916: Although perhaps established earlier, first evidence of Dade County Bar Association

1920: Incorporated DCBA as non-profit corporation in Circuit Court of Dade County

1939: Organized Legal Aid Society

1941: Authorized Judicial Poll of the members of DCBA on Supreme Court Justices

1943: Established first “Lawyers Reference Plan” and referral program for military personnel and general public

1949: Junior Bar Section was in existence in June, 1949; Legal Aid Society of DCBA was chartered

1950: Terminated DCBA Grievance Committee

1952: Transferred Unauthorized Practice of Law obligations to The Florida Bar

1954: Opened Executive Office; hired Executive Director and part-time Lawyer Referral Service secretary

1957: Earned seat in American Bar Association House of Delegates

1965: Hosted American Bar Association Annual Meeting; started fundraising campaign to build headquarters building; leased land; began construction of DCBA building; Johnnie M. Ridgely begins 41 year term as Executive Director

1966: Completed construction of four-story office building in downtown Miami that now houses DCBA, Legal Aid, “Put Something Back” and various other pro bono projects.  Won ABA “Award of Excellence” for the most outstanding nationwide local bar

1972: Established Judicial Trust Fund to provide filing fees and campaign funds for Circuit and County Court judicial candidates

1974: Received the American Bar Association Harrison Tweed award for achievement in preserving and increasing access to legal services to the poor.

1975: Purchased land on which our building is situated

1976: Established Appellate Filing Box in Dade County Courthouse

1978-79: Approved concept of Public Interest Law Bank, now Volunteer Lawyers and “Put Something Back”

1981-82: Established first formal pro bono program

1986-87: Established Judicial Campaign Practices Commission to hear complaints about judicial candidate conduct

1987-88: Consolidated Lawyer Referral Service with The Florida Bar statewide LRS

1988-89: The Florida Bar award winning program, Partners for Professionalism, is established where law students, lawyers and judges, come together to discuss ethical and professional issues. The program is still in existence at the University of Miami School of Law.

1991-92: Formed partnership with Chief Judge of Eleventh Circuit for “Put Something Back” program and consolidated DCBA pro bono projects into “PSB”

1992-93: Co-Founded “Children First” pro bono program.  Established legal information and assistance programs for victims of Hurricane Andrew Established “Children Whose Parents Have Died of Aids” program

1997-98: Established “David W. Dyer Professionalism Award”; Chaired fundraising committee for restoration of the historic lobby of the Dade County Courthouse; raised in excess of $350,000 in contributions from lawyers.  Established “Teen Court” in cooperation with Dade School Board

1999-00: Participated in dedication of the restoration of the lobby of the historic Dade County Courthouse

2000-01: Received The Florida Bar award for Most Outstanding Professionalism Committee in Florida

2001-02: Sponsored, with Third DCA, dedication of Thomas D. Barkdull Third District Court of Appeals Building; Instrumental in having new family court building named Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center and sponsored dedication; Established DCBA Website; Established World Trade Center Fund;  Co-Sponsored reception on Freedom Schooner Amistad; Sponsored Diversity Training for DCBA members

2002-03: Sponsored training for new electronic countywide voting machines

2003-04: Re-established monthly luncheon meetings

2004-05: Endowed Alan R. Schwartz, Mario P. Goderich and Robert L. Shevin service awards2004-05: Endowed the following service awards: The Johnnie M. Ridgely President’s Award of Merit, Alan R. Schwartz Judicial Excellence Award, Mario P. Goderich Legal Ethics Award, Robert L. Shevin Outstanding Public Service Award, and Daily Business Review Sookie Williams Award. Launch of the Ceremonial Courtroom 6-1 Restoration Project. Creation of the DCBA lapel pin.

2005-06: Restoration of the Dade County Courthouse ceremonial courtroom 6-1 begins as DCBA lawyers contribute over $300,000; Historic address to DCBA by both U.S. Senators Nelson and Martinez from Florida on the importance of a fair and independent judiciary

2006-07: Johnnie M. Ridgely passes after 41 years as DCBA Executive Director.  Boardroom named in her honor.

Established Legal Line Pro Bono Call-In Program; Approved Life Members eligibility to serve on Board of Directors.

2007-08: Launch of the eMentoring online program and the Put More Back Pro Bono Initiative. Instrumental in the restoration and dedication ceremony of the Historic Courtroom 6-1.

2008-09: Won Florida Supreme Court’s Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award; Portrait unveiling and dedication of the Johnnie M. Ridgely Board Room; Initiated and sponsored dedication ceremony at the once segregated drinking fountains at the Dade County Courthouse; held inaugural “Diversity Summit”; Commenced membership benefits and recruitment drives; Approved formation of University of Miami School of Law Student Chapter

2009-10: Conducted twelve Mortgage Foreclosure Seminars/Public Forums. Successfully lobbied the Federal Government for the granting of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals and completed the first ever DCBA “webinar” entitled “Immigration Solutions for Haitian Families in Crisis” in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Established Paralegal Committee and Solo/Small Firm Committee.

2010-11: Launch Lawyer Referral Service; Celebrated 60th Anniversary of Legal Aid;  Justice Stephen Breyer addressed DCBA membership; One of first bar associations to issue state-wide resolution opposing attacks on Judicial System by Florida Legislature; presented the Johnnie M. Ridgely President’s Award.

2011-12: Inaugural Bench and Bar Conference; Launch Technology and Business Development seminars; Battle of the Bands Legal Aid Society Fundraiser.

2012-13: Re-Design Dade Bar Bulletin; Inaugural “Legal Legends v. Young Guns” Mock Trial Competition; Inaugural Judicial Retirement Reception at Vizcaya in partnership with AOC. Passed Joint Civility Resolution with 40 Voluntary Bar Associations in So. FLA; Expanded DCBA Bench and Bar Conference, attended by 700 attorneys and judges, most profitable conference in the DCBA history.

2013-14: Adopted the Uniform Standards of Professional Courtesy and Civility; Hosted Retirement Luncheon for Sharon L. Langer, Led initiative to insure accessibility at facilities for DCBA events and passed Non-Discrimination and Inclusiveness Resolution; Re-Design of DCBA Website; Governor Rick Scott addressed the membership.

2014-15: Joint initiative for a new civil courthouse; Co-hosted ADA Summit for all Voluntary Bar Associations; Held Over the Rainbow fundraiser for Dade Legal Aid and DCBA Centennial Book; DCBA Bench and Bar Conference attended by over 1,000 attorneys and judges.



For ninety-eight years, the Dade County Bar Association has been among bar leaders in the country initiating new programs; opposing programs and legislation detrimental to lawyers, the bench and the public and fought hard for those things, which were beneficial to the common good.  At the same time, we have tried to broadly represent our varied membership and resist supporting one dimensional or single-issue groups and programs. The Association has worked particularly hard to protect the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession and continue efforts to preserve the separation of powers of legislative bodies and our judicial system.  Two of our most worthwhile, ongoing accomplishments are the formation of the Legal Aid Society and establishment of a formal volunteer lawyer program for the poor – both have become models of numerous associations in Florida and throughout the United States.

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