The history and growth of the Arapahoe County Bar Association are linked to the origin and growth of Colorado's 18th Judicial District. Originally, Arapahoe County was part of the 1st Judicial District, which also included the Counties of Adams, Jefferson, Clear Creek, and Gilpin. In 1959, the 18th Judicial District was created, and Arapahoe County was included in the new district, along with Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties.
In the latter 1950's, prior to the formal founding of the Arapahoe County Bar Association, a group of attorneys from Arapahoe County decided to look into the possibility of forming a separate bar association from that of the 1st Judicial District. Those attending those early meetings, among others, were Martin P. Miller (then one of the 1st Judicial District Judges, who in 1959 resigned the position to become Arapahoe County District Attorney), Richard D. Greene (later a District Judge), and John Fitzpatrick (then Arapahoe County Judge), as well as Richard Simon, Earl Hower, Bob Long, Horatio Ramsey, Dave Hahn, Harry Carleno, Harvey Wallace, Glenn Helfer, William Hart, Walter Erwin, Richard Graham, James Turre, and soon-to- be District Judges Harold H. Harrison, Robert B. Lee, and later Robert F. Kelley.
The Arapahoe County Bar Association was officially founded in 1958 when it became an affiliate of the Colorado Bar Association. At that time, it consisted of 41 member attorneys and judges. By 1965, the membership had more than doubled to 102. In 1979, under the direction of Edward B. Lee, the ACBA was incorporated as a Colorado non-profit corporation. Its membership has continued to grow dramatically, and currently it has over 1,000 members.
The ACBA is governed by its fourteen member Board of Directors, which consists of four officers (President, President-elect, Treasurer, and Secretary), the Immediate Past President and nine Board members. Officers serve one-year terms, and Board members serve two-year terms. The Board of Directors meets on a monthly basis to discuss the activities of the Association. In addition, the chairs of the ACBA committees are invited to attend the Board meetings.
Kimberly Bockenstedt, Executive Director, manages the day-to-day operations of the association and serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors.
The main activities of the ACBA include monthly board meetings, continuing legal education programs held throughout the year, community service and public education projects, and bench-bar activities. Major yearly activities include a CLE & Dinner for Legal Professionalism Month (October), a membership Holiday Party, the Judges' Meeting which honors the judiciary, Law Day Luncheon, the Spring CLE - an out of state trip which combines educational and social activities for members and families, and the Annual Meeting in June, which includes a golf tournament, the election of officers, and an awards presentation. The Association presents three annual awards -- the Tommy D. Drinkwine Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award, the Charles Dillion Public Service Award, and the Raymond Frenchmore Award for outstanding service to the juvenile justice system.
The ACBA also works cooperatively with other organizations in the legal community. In particular, the ACBA has a history of close, working relationships with the judges and administration of the 18th Judicial District for the purpose of promoting accessibility of the justice system. The ACBA takes pride in the fact that it was a compelling influence in the construction of the new Arapahoe County Justice Center which opened in 1989. In addition, the ACBA sends five representatives to the Colorado Bar Association's Board of Governors' Meeting, and has representatives on the governing boards of the Metropolitan Lawyer Referral Service, and the Metropolitan Volunteer Lawyers (formerly the Thursday Night Bar Association.) In the past, the ABA has assisted the Colorado Supreme Court with public education projects in area high schools; it has provided volunteers to the Help Center 4 Ask-Lawyer Program, and assisted the Colorado Bar Association with its high school mock trial program. These activities promote the ACBA's goals of promoting public legal education, equal access to the justice system, and the highest professionalism among members of the bar.