The Alabama State Bar (ASB) is the official statewide organization of lawyers in Alabama. Since 1923, when the Alabama State Bar was created by an act of the legislature, ASB programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system. It is dedicated to promoting the professional responsibility and competence of its members, improving the administration of justice and increasing the public understanding of and respect for the law.
- Values and Responsibilities
The values that guide the state bar are trust, integrity and service. The ASB has long served a dual role as an advocate for the profession and the public. It is often difficult to separate these two responsibilities, but during the last few decades, with the growing complexity of society and our legal system, the ASB’s public role has gained both emphasis and breadth.
Since its creation as a mandatory bar association, the ASB has initiated programs addressing a wide range of public concerns from merit selection of judges to securing adequate funding for representing indigent defendants; from ensuring that non-lawyers sit on disciplinary panels to encouraging the use of mediation as an alternative method of dispute resolution. State bar positions play an influential role in determining public and social policy in state and national forums.
The Alabama State Bar is composed principally of practicing attorneys, judges, law teachers and non-practicing lawyers who are business executives, government officials, court administrators and more. The bar represents practitioners in specialized areas of law, as well as affiliated, law-related organizations and groups with special interests or needs.
The bar serves as the voice of the legal practitioner in Alabama. It proposes model rules of professional conduct which govern the daily business and ethical practice of lawyers for adoption by the Alabama Supreme Court.
- ASB Structure
Board of Bar Commissioners: The Board of Bar Commissioners is comprised of 74 members. A simple representational formula allows many diverse associations of lawyers within the state to be represented in this forum. The Executive Council is composed of the president, president-elect, vice president, secretary/executive director and three members-at-large chosen from the Board of Bar Commissioners. The immediate past-president is also a member of this body. All officers are elected to serve one-year terms.
The President: The president serves for one association year which begins at the close of the annual meeting (held each summer). The president is the official spokesperson in expressing the policies of the state bar as determined by the Board of Bar Commissioners. Unless otherwise provided, the president appoints the chairs and members of standing committees and task forces.
The President-Elect: The president-elect serves a term of one association year and performs duties as the president may assign, or the duties of the president, should the president become disabled and unable to perform the duties of office.
Sections, Committees and Task Forces: The state bar’s current structure includes 31 specialized law sections, 16 standing committees and nine task forces. These groups publish material dealing with their field of expertise, much of which is not available through commercial publishers. These units also sponsor continuing legal education (CLE) conferences or seminars, monitor legislation, conduct studies and may make policy recommendations to the Board of Bar Commissioners.
Sections: Range in size from approximately 20 members to more than 1,000 members. Each section draws its membership from lawyers or judges with common professional interests. They operate much like mini-bar associations with their own officers, dues schedule and committees. They address professional development, improvement of laws and continuing legal education in a variety of substantive law fields. Sections have sub-committees which tackle specialized single legal issues that may be part of the overall section jurisdiction. Standing committees and task forces have smaller memberships and generally focus on specific assignments or narrower issues.
Offices: The Alabama State Bar is headquartered at 415 Dexter Avenue in Montgomery. In 1964, pledges and donations by bar members made for a debt-free bar headquarters building with paid-for furnishings. The original building contained six offices, a library, an assembly room and a membership file room, plus a print shop added in 1969.
By 1980, the bar had outgrown the Dexter Avenue headquarters. Another building was purchased and furnished, again with donations by bar members. The building located at 1019 South Perry Street, across from the Governor’s Mansion, was the home of the bar’s Center for Professional Responsibility.
In the fall of 1992, work was completed on a $3.5 million addition to the bar headquarters building. Member donations covered a little more than a third of the cost. The addition provided 32,000 square feet, including space for the Center for Professional Responsibility. The original headquarters building was also refurbished and included an office for the state bar president and three conference rooms that are used by state bar entities or can be reserved for use by state bar members.
A portion of the previously unoccupied third floor of the bar addition was built out in 1999 to add office space for several of the bar’s newest programs. Also, a state-of-the-art video conference room was added on the third floor, and is available for use by bar committees and sections. Attorneys may use this facility for client teleconferences and tele-depositions for a reasonable charge. A major refurbishment of the first and second floors of the facility was completed in 2002 with the addition of more parking across the street from the bar center. In 2008, additional office space was created on the third floor as part of a $626,000 build-out of that floor and renovations to the first and second floors.
The state bar headquarters building features various public recognitions of lawyers, judges and non-lawyers illustrating dedicated service to the profession, judicial excellence and the public service character of the legal profession. It is decorated with original works of art created by such prominent Alabama artists as Jake Waggoner, Barbara Gallagher, Russ Baxley, Roger Brown, and Nall, to cite a few examples.
The annual budget of the state bar is more than $6 million. No tax dollars are used to support bar activities. All practicing attorneys pay an annual license fee, which goes into a special trust fund. From this trust fund the legislature makes an appropriation for the use of the Alabama State Bar.
Staff: The board of bar commissioners appoints the executive director who supervises a professional and administrative staff.
The staff implements decisions of the board in the administration of association affairs, assists members in carrying out their activities and expedites the dissemination of information.
The staff is divided into several departments: Administration, Admissions and Attorney Licensing, Digital Communications, Programs , Lawyer Assistance, Practice Management, Professional Responsibility and the Volunteer Lawyers Program.
The Board of Bar Commissioners (BBC) is the governing and policy-making body of the Alabama State Bar.
View our database of Committees & Task Forces