On This Day in Wyoming History… 1915: The Wyoming State Bar Association Created

On this day in 1915, the Wyoming State Bar was organized making 2015 their centennial.

This was actually not the first such organization in Wyoming. The Wyoming Bar Association was organized on January 24, 1889 in Cheyenne but the group disbanded around 1899. Many of these same men were influential in organizing the State Bar 26 years later.

Members of the First Wyoming State Bar Association in the Federal Courtroom in Cheyenne.  (WSA J E Stimson Collection Neg 4162)

Members of the First Wyoming State Bar Association in the Federal Courtroom in Cheyenne on January 25, 1915.
(WSA J E Stimson Collection Neg 4162)

Hon. John A. Riner, US District Court Judge for Wyoming, was asked to give an address at the organizational meeting of the Wyoming State Bar. He spoke about the necessity of forming such an organization “upon a substantial and enduring foundation, with a view to elevating the standard of the profession in our new state by keeping it clean and free from just criticism.” He continued:

The bar is such an important factor in molding public opinion that its influence is felt in almost every department of life and it is because of the very marked influence of the bar in shaping not only the destines of men, but governments as well, that I would urge a fuller appreciation of the essential dignity, worth, nobility and usefulness of our calling. The lawyer (and I wish you to note that I place special emphasis on the word lawyer, which does not include a pettifogger or shyster, terms applied to those who, instead of adorning the profession, disgrace it). The lawyer, I repeat, is one who worthily magnifies the nature and duties of his office, one who scorns any form of meanness or disreputable practice… The lawyer’s work offers many temptations and often calls for nice discrimination between good and bad. It is of the utmost importance therefore that the members of the bar set their standards high, for in good hands the profession is a bulwark of society; in bad hands it is a menace.

 

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “On This Day in Wyoming History… 1915: The Wyoming State Bar Association Created

  1. Clint Black

    Gaining license to practice must be a separate issue. The Bar, as far as I know, has power to “yank” a license. Folks like Bill Nye and W.W. Corlett applied for and were granted license to practice in the Territory. This post also makes you consider how the power of the WY Stockgrowers Assn and the UPRR in the Territory was unbridled by a lack of ethical standards that could be enforced.

    • Craig Newman

      Clint-The Wyoming Bar is an “integrated” bar association, as are many in the country, meaning that membership in the association and the licensing and “unlicensing” of lawyers occurs under the same tent.

  2. Clint Black

    Equally interesting would be the story of why the original Bar was disbanded and why it took another 15 years for principle through regulation to be restored.

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