Melvin Hoffman, past AABA Historian
The "Bar Association of Anne Arundel County, Incorporated"
received its Certificate of Incorporation from the State Tax Commission
of Maryland on the 7th October, 1931.
The initial meeting for the formation of the proposed Anne Arundel County
Bar Association was held in the local Courtroom (which was the only
courtroom at the time still located at the front of the Circuit Court
for Anne Arundel County building located, Church Circle, Annapolis)
at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 2, 1931. The following 17 founding members
were present at this meeting as recorded in the minutes: Judge Robert
Moss; James M. Munroe; Nicholas H. Green; Ridgely P. Melvin; John S.
Strahorn; Eugene P. Childs; Benjamin Michaelson; Robert Kindred; Arthur
Trader; Marvin I. Anderson; Louis Strauss; Noah A. Hillman; Hyman Ginsberg;
Albert Jerome Goodman; Isidore Ginsberg; James G. Woodward; and Charles
Schlegel. At this meeting, James M. Munroe was elected the Asssociation's
first president, and Albert J. Goodman was elected secretary.
It was at this important meeting that local attorneys decided it was
time to organize a county bar association. At the meeting, Judge Moss
was asked to state, "just what could be gained by having the members
of the local bar organize?" He replied, "that while by nature
a pessimist, he was glad to admit that the advantages were numerous.
Of particular importance is the opportunity to collectively recommend
reforms to the County administration officers, that individually we
would hesitate to do."
In response, "President Munroe also suggested the adoption of a
Code of Ethics, whereby the client's interests would be primary, and
the attorney's secondary." There is no question that our forebearers
had the wisdom to set a solid foundation for us to attain today.
By 1936, the Association had grown to 28 members, and then President
William J. McWilliams was tackling the issue of where to locate a bar
library. A plan was mentioned to remodel part of the second story of
the Court House to provide room for a bar library.
On January 2, 1937, six years to the day after the first organizational
meeting, the Association's first president, James M. Munroe, passed
away. At the meeting that day, the board also discussed a motion to
increase the salary for the State's Attorney to $4,000 plus $100 a month
By 1947, necessity was leading the way to modernization as Judge McWilliams
suggested the use of microfilm to file old records in order to save
In 1954, a list of the Anne Arundel Bar Association's following seven
committees was published: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Grievance; Judiciary;
Professional Ethics; Membership; Bar Library; and Amendment of the Law.
By 1959, the Association's membership list boasted 108 members.
One of the more enjoyable tasks of being historian is tracking the growth
of our organization, and being on hand at our Law Day Dinner when we
present Certificates for 50 and 35 years of membership and service in
our association. We have grown from an organization in which the volunteer
President did all of the administrative work, to the creation of a complete
From the humble beginning in 1931 with 17 members and a Treasury of
$63.00, we are now a united group of more than 1,100. Our forbearers
would be very proud of our accomplishments as an association, service
to the community, and service to our clients.