75 Years of the Bar Journal: a forum for improving the practice of law.

AuthorPudlow, Jan

Here's a toast to 1927--a dazzling year of events that shrunk the world and expanded newfangled ways to communicate.

Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris, to a cheering crowd of 100,000, and claimed the $25,000 prize for the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic.

Voices crossed the ocean, too, with the public's first chance to make a three-minute telephone call between London and New York for $ 75.

Comedienne Mae West found out that dirty words can get a gal in trouble when suggestive ad libs on Broadway landed her a conviction for obscenity and 10 days in jail.

Philo Farnsworth, struck by a brainstorm while plowing a field as a teenage genius, unveiled his invention of the first all-electronic television model.

Vaudevillian Al Jolson wowed audiences in "The Jazz Singer," the first feature-length talkie.

And Florida State Bar President W.I. Evans thought it was high time for lawyers to communicate statewide via a monthly law journal.

At the 20th Annual Convention in Jacksonville, Bar members approved the resolution to create the Florida State Bar Association Law Journal.

"By reason of the increase in membership, the annual income of the association has reached a sum which will enable us to expand our sphere of activities," Evans said.

Florida's economy went bust the year before, as money and credit ran out and banks and investors stopped trusting the "paper" millionaires. Nonetheless, 1927 was a boom year for Bar membership, doubling from 404 to 808--a far cry from today's 70,771 members, but impressive at the time.

Instead of saving surplus money, Bar members voted to spend it to improve the fledgling statewide organization of lawyers. The earliest vision for the Journal was that it would serve as a "medium of communication for the interchange of ideas." President Evans hoped the Journal would serve as a focal point for the profession, a tangible return for dues, a magnet for new membership in these decades before the 1950 integrated Bar.

When the first issue appeared in August 1927, the Florida State Bar Association Law Journal was edited by lawyer J.C. Cooper, Jr., of Jacksonville, along with a committee of five lawyers that included three judges. Their first editorial, titled "A Beginning," asked new readers two questions:

* "Is the effort entailed in the publication of a journal such as this worthwhile; in other words, will it be of real value to the members of the association?"

* "Is the form and general character of this first issue in accord with the view of the bar?"

On this 75th anniversary of the Bar Journal, let us celebrate the obvious positive responses received from those first lawyer readers in 1927--and the continuing exchange of opinions and solutions about legal issues in the years since.

From the January 1928 issue in which Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Ellis wrote the salient points of a case to the high court should be summed up in one typewritten page to the March 2000 issue featuring a feisty pro-and-con debate on multidisdplinary practices, the Bar Journal has remained a vehicle for lawyers and judges to vent frustrations, offer suggestions to improve the profession, and provide practical ways to hone the practice of law.

The President's Page was a regular feature that continues today.

Marshall Cassedy, former executive director of the Bar and former editor of the Journal, reminisced in the July/August 1977 issue about that presidential prose.

"On the subject of the President's Page, some prizes...

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