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Indianapolis Bar Association: Legal Counsel for the Public Since 1878

The Indianapolis Bar Association was originally formed as a reformation of an original failed bar association project in Indianapolis. The original bar association was formed in the early 1870’s, but failed due to lack of proper organization. In 1878, what is now known as the Indianapolis Bar Association, or IBA, picked up where the former organization left off and utilized the former association’s treasury and library. The three main objectives of the Indianapolis Bar Association have been to maintain professional standards and practices within the legal profession, serve its members, and provide law-related service to the community as a whole.

The IBA started out as a 30 member group, but had quickly grown to include over 300 members by the 1920’s. The group’s original gathering places included meeting rooms in an Indianapolis bar or the courthouse. A permanent location for the local chapter of the bar association would be found in the 1955 purchase of the Loew’s Theater building at 33 North Pennsylvania Street in downtown Indianapolis. This Pennsylvnaia Street location would serve as the group’s home until it would purchase new offices in 1970 at the then INB Tower.


Informational video from the Indianapolis Bar Association, an Indianapolis organization

Today, the Indianapolis Bar Association is 3,500 members strong and currently calls the Market Tower Building on West Market Street home. Historically, the association admitted women members as early as the 1930’s and would see its first African American member in 1953. Both women and various minority groups were represented in significant numbers in the 1970’s.

The original intention of this chapter of the bar association was to serve its members by operating a law library and reading room in a convenient courthouse location. Social events and monthly meetings, which include various presentations on legal, historic, civic, or social topics, are held on a regular basis for the benefit of the association’s members. Original benefits to members included continued education opportunities as the field of law grew increasingly more complex, and today the bar association offers its Indianapolis members a lawyer referral service and informational publications.

Additionally, the association has served the Indianapolis legal community by organizing committees to monitor the professional conduct of the bar and bench, and also provides investigative services and recommends improvements towards the Marion County justice system. Through the intervention of the various committees organized by the bar association, the legal community has seen many improvements including the increase of judge’s salaries, the recommendation of judicial appointments, municipal law recoding, monitoring standards for legal education, and the improvement of various court proceedings and systems.

The history of the Indianapolis Bar Association also includes the pro bono legal assistance to those who do not have the means to obtain this kind of help for themselves. As early as 1941, the bar association has provided voluntary legal services to indigent clients on an informal case-by-case basis, which led to the official formation of the Legal Aid Society. In 1980, the IBA became the first bar association in the nation to provide to citizens thorough pro bono legal services using only volunteer resources. These pro bono legal services include a public grievance committee, legal counseling, career talks, and school programs for Indianapolis kids.

For more information on the Indianapolis Bar Association, please visit the organization’s homepage.

Indianapolis Bar Association
135 N Pennsylvania St, Ste 1500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317.269.2000
Fax: 317.269.1915