The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. It is committed to doing what only a national association of attorneys can do: serving our members, improving the legal profession, eliminating bias and enhancing diversity, and advancing the rule of law throughout the United States and around the world.
Founded in 1878, the ABA is committed to supporting the legal profession with practical resources for legal professionals while improving the administration of justice, accrediting law schools, establishing model ethical codes, and more. Membership is open to lawyers, law students, and others interested in the law and the legal profession.
Our national headquarters are in Chicago, and we maintain a significant office in Washington D.C.
On August 21, 1878, seventy-five lawyers from twenty states and the District of Columbia met in Saratoga Springs, New York, to establish the American Bar Association. Since that first meeting, the ABA has played a formative role in the development of the profession of law in the United States.
Explore the Interactive Timeline to learn about many of the significant and interesting events and people in the Association’s rich history. These compelling ABA stories are an integral part of the larger story of American law, governance, and society. Join us in celebrating the historical accomplishments of the Association and its members, dedicated to serving the American legal profession and the public.
The American Bar Association Mission:
To serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession
The ABA achieves its mission through tireless work toward four goals.
Goal I: Serve Our Members.
- Provide benefits, programs and services which promote members’ professional growth and quality of life.
Goal II: Improve Our Profession.
- Promote the highest quality legal education.
- Promote competence, ethical conduct and professionalism.
- Promote pro bono and public service by the legal profession.
Goal III: Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity.
- Promote full and equal participation in the association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons.
- Eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system.
Goal IV: Advance the Rule of Law.
- Increase public understanding of and respect for the rule of law, the legal process, and the role of the legal profession at home and throughout the world.
- Hold governments accountable under law.
- Work for just laws, including human rights, and a fair legal process.
- Assure meaningful access to justice for all persons.
- Preserve the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary.