Our History

The MCBA is a coalition of more than 20 diverse minority bar associations in Southern California.  The MCBA’s constituent Member Bar Associations have an aggregated total membership of over 3,000, consisting of California attorneys, judges and other legal professionals. 

The MCBA was established nearly three decades ago in response to various community reactions resulting from the shooting death of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old African-American girl, by Korean-American shopkeeper, Soon Ja Du, on March 16, 1991.

 

In June 1991, the leaders of a number of minority bar associations met informally to discuss what actions they could initiate to defuse the racial tensions in Los Angeles arising from the controversial sentence of “probation” in the criminal case of People vs. Du.

The first “formal” MCBA meeting in 1991 was held in the form of a Unity Breakfast, an annual tradition that remains today!  That first meeting was attended by representatives of Black Women Lawyers (BWL), the Korean American Bar Association (KABA), the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (SCCLA), the John M. Langston Bar Association (JMLBA), the Philippine American Bar Association (PABA) and the Mexican American Bar Association (MABA), all of whom are still MCBA members.  The consensus was that minority bar associations have an important role in providing leadership to fight racism, misunderstandings and discrimination and to facilitate an open dialogue and positive relations.

From what was once polarized positions came an understanding that the diverse minority groups had much more in common, and that only through a melding of support and collective action could true progress and positive impact be made. Thus the MCBA was formed.

While each Bar Association operates independently, MCBA member Bar Associations also promote each other’s events by contributing to a joint calendar to avoid having conflicting events, which enables representatives to attend and support events of fellow members, as well as collaborate together.

Over the past three decades, utilizing the power of unity behind a common purpose and collaboration, the MCBA has been involved in numerous efforts to ensure diversity in the legal profession, with the full participation of minority attorneys at every level of the profession.  The MCBA has found that human rights and social injustices are issues that are more effectively addressed as a coalition, and its goal is to bring diverse groups peaceably together. The MCBA further provides an avenue for advancing issues and concerns of our various local minority communities.

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