About the Bar

History of the Bar

In 1883, a small group of lawyers established the Georgia Bar Association. This new professional organization proved beneficial to its members but, since membership was not required of all Georgia lawyers, it lacked power. "Because of its nature as a voluntary association not comprised of all the lawyers in this state," explained 1946 Georgia Bar President Charles Gowen, "the Georgia Bar Association was unable to address significant needs including uniform discipline throughout the state and the passage of important legislation."

By 1925, a trend toward unification became evident in state bars across the country, including the Georgia Bar Association, which would struggle for conversion over the next 40 years, enlisting the aid and support of many of Georgia's most prominent legal minds. The bill to create an integrated bar was finally passed by the Georgia House and Senate in 1963, a move motivated primarily by the concept of regulated self-discipline. "The capstone of the State Bar," said 1964-65 Bar President Hugh M. Dorsey, Jr., "is the power of self-discipline, which has been sought so long and is needed so badly. For the first time, all of us can and will be held to answer to the public for the conduct and character of our profession, and here we must not, and cannot, fail."

Today, the State Bar of Georgia Rules and Regulations, found in the Handbook, serve as a guide for bar members, officers and staff. According to the Handbook, the State Bar exists "to foster among the members of the Bar of this State the principles of duty and service to the public; to improve the administration of justice; and to advance the science of law." All persons authorized to practice law in this state are required to be members. The State Bar of Georgia has strict codes of ethics and discipline that are enforced by the Supreme Court of Georgia through the State Bar's Office of the General Counsel. Through membership dues and other contributions, the State Bar of Georgia is able to maintain programs that mutually benefit its members and the general public.