The Cumberland Bar Association is one of the oldest organized bar associations in the United States. Continuous records for the Association exist back to November 1866. That year the great Portland fire destroyed earlier records along with the Association’s law library. However, a frayed and age-worn pamphlet, possessed by a former secretary of the Association, provides evidence that Portland attorneys were organized as early as March 13, 1829, just nine years after Maine became a State. The pamphlet, entitled “Rules and Regulations of the Bar in the County of Cumberland,” lists 40 active members and 9 associate members, including William Pitt Fessenden, once the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and Stephen W. Longfellow, father of the poet Henry W. Longfellow. The Association currently has about 600 regular and honorary members.
Historically, a primary function of the Cumberland Bar Association was the oversight of the Henry and Nathan B. Cleaves Law Library, the law library for Cumberland County. On July 3, 1996, the membership of the Association voted to convert the library into a separate non-profit corporation. This action permitted the library to receive gifts and bequests to increase its endowments and to be eligible for public and private grant and foundation awards. On January 1, 1997, the library became a separate corporate entity and was later approved for non-profit status.
Today, in accordance with our Mission Statement, the Association sponsors many social and educational functions, including continuing legal education seminars, receptions for judges and new attorneys, and an Annual Meeting. The Association also periodically provides grants for other law-related events.
Membership in the Cumberland Bar Association is open to any person licensed to practice law in the State of Maine. Justices and judges may be elected honorary members of the Association. Officers and General Committee members are elected at the Association’s Annual Meeting.
Past Annual Meeting Speakers
2019-The Honorable Lance Walker
2017-Dean Danielle Conway
2016-Mary L. Bonauto
2015-Thomas E. Delahanty II
2014-The Honorable Peter G. Cary
2013-William S. Harwood and George A. Smith
2012-The Honorable Nancy Torreson
2010-The Honorable D. Brock Hornby
2008-The Honorable John A. Woodcock, Jr.2007-The Honorable Thomas H. Allen
2004-The Honorable John Baldacci
2003-Roger A. Putnam