The Charles Houston Bar Association (CHBA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization comprised of lawyers, judges, and law students throughout northern California. Named in honor of the legendary civil rights practitioner Charles Hamilton Houston (1895 – 1950), CHBA continues his legacy by working to address the unique challenges facing the African American community.
The association was founded in 1955 as the Charles Houston Law Club. Initially, its purpose was to provide a forum in which Black lawyers could address issues that affected their practices. Since then, CHBA has grown steadily in its purpose and membership.
In 1975, the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California recognized CHBA as an official state bar association. The Charles Houston Bar Association is now also an affiliate member of the National Bar Association (NBA), and a member of the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL).
Using the Law as a Tool
The association has always been fundamentally concerned with civil rights and promoting diversity in the legal profession. Since its inception, CHBA has extended its voice into local, state, and national matters as an advocate for inclusion. The organization has joined other organizations in filing amicus curiae briefs in the United States Supreme Court, most recently to support the University of Michigan Law School’s admission policies in the Grutter v. Bollinger case (2003).
Developing Young Lawyers
CHBA law students benefit from membership. They gain access to, and guidance from established Bay Area practitioners representing a wide variety of legal fields. Our Mentor Program matches students with lawyers practicing in their area of interest. In the fall, CHBA presents an interview and resume writing workshop to help students prepare for their job search. Student scholarships are awarded annually.
CHBA contributes generously to various community and charity organizations. Members provide free legal services to the community at large, participate in clothing drives, and support partner community groups in a variety of ways. Members are mentors in schools and colleges, and participate in CHBA’s High School Outreach Program (an annual event bringing lawyers into Oakland high schools to encourage youth to pursue higher education, and showing them how to prepare for and succeed in college).
Social Events & Networking
CHBA organizes social and networking events throughout the year to bring the legal community together in a setting away from the office. These events are an informal way for attorneys to stay abreast of news in the legal community, create new personal and business relationships, and have a good time among colleagues, their families and friends.
Honoring Our Own
CHBA has a proud history and a membership we continually celebrate. Our members contribute to the greater society in immeasurable ways. The association acknowledges the dedication and hardwork of its members each year at the Judicial Luncheon in April, the annual Gala Dinner Dance in December, and in our publications.