The Washington County Bar Association (WCBA) has a long and interesting history.
Washington County was established in 1849. Our county was one of the nine original counties created when the Minnesota Territory was organized. The county was officially established October 27, 1849, and named after our first president, George Washington. Although we have no proof, we’d like to believe our founding fathers were there in 1849. We can picture a dedicated group of practicing attorneys who helped in drafting the necessary documentation for the formal establishment of our County and the planning and design of the first official courthouse. Builders broke ground for our beautiful historic courthouse in 1867. It was completed in 1870.
Historical newspaper articles indicate the WCBA’s existence as early as 1882. Research from the Duluth Weekly Herald indicates Jasper N. Searles was an active member of the Washington County Bar Association while he was practicing law. Searles was an attorney in Stillwater from 1882 -1917. In 1917 he was appointed judge of the 19th District at the ripe young age of 76. Today, our judges have mandated retirement at age 70.
Also known and practicing in the Stillwater community was another member of the bar association, Judge Frank T. Wilson. Research indicates he was also practicing law in Stillwater in 1882. He was appointed a Probate Judge of Washington County in 1887. After his tenure expired, he returned to practicing law and retired in 1937. On March 11, 1937, an appointed committee from the Washington County Bar Association presented a memorial in his honor for his devoted service to the Stillwater community. The appointed bar association committee consisted of Karl G. Neumeier, P.M. Lindbloom and Edward Thelen. These names remain familiar to many of us practicing today.
As history would have it, we are still an association made up primarily of attorneys who both practice and live in Washington County. However, today we extend membership to law clerks, judges, law students, court staff and anyone else interested or involved in our legal community or court system. We are proudly independent of the 19th District of the Minnesota Bar Association, but work closely with the 19th on certain events. We offer membership in our own county bar association for a minimal yearly fee as to maximize value to our members and ensure that the local bar association is accessible to all. The WCBA offers continuing legal education programming in conjunction with our superb Washington County law librarians. We encourage camaraderie among our members and offer opportunities to socialize with colleagues and friends in the legal community.
Our mission is to promote the legal profession by providing our members with the resources, education and opportunities to provide quality ethical legal services to the public.
If you would like to join, please contact us today.