The Women's Association to the Houston Bar Association was formed at the request of HBA President Palmer Hutcheson, Sr. Twelve women met at the Houston Club on February 26, 1947 to plan its organization. These women, the Organizing Founders, are Ruth Brown, Jean Cartwright, Nancy Collie Reed, Maxine Cook, Caroline Hutcheson, Virginia Noel, Mildred Patterson, Elsie Pressler, Lorna Terrell Thomas, Phyllis Tucker, Dorothy Weatherly, and Marjorie Werlein. Seventy-four women attended the first meeting held on March 19. At the second meeting on April 18, the Constitution and By-laws were adopted and Virginia Noel was elected President. By May 1947, 199 women had joined, and 325 were members by the time the first yearbook (1947-48) was published. These 325 are recognized as the Founding Members.
The purpose of the Auxiliary was to assist the HBA with social functions. The first year four HBA functions were hosted: two parties for the Junior Bar, one Senior Bar reception for judges, and the Senior Bar annual Christmas dinner dance. Also, four Auxiliary functions were held: a coffee at the home of Mrs. George Butler, a November luncheon at the old Houston Country club off Wayside Drive, a February style show, and an April business meeting. For the State Bar of Texas 1948 Houston Convention, the Auxiliary planned and hosted two style show luncheons, July 1 and July 2, and organized and hosted a sight-seeing tour and coffee to visit the gardens of Miss Ima Hogg and other estates. Also, a new system of registration was devised making it possible to locate any lawyer attending the convention; the system was adopted and used by the State Bar of Texas for many years. In 1949, the Auxiliary and the Bar sponsored the first Harvest Party, a major social event that continues to this day.
The Auxiliary expanded its objectives in 1981 to include community service projects focused on the law and the practice of law as a profession. To fund them, the Houston Bar Auxiliary Charitable Fund, Inc. was established April 11, 1982 to solicit, receive, and disburse funds. The first project, the Community Legal Education Committee, was a library of law-focused educational videotapes. CLEC was dissolved after reports that many tapes were no longer up-to-date, and in 1996 tapes deemed current by Houston Young Lawyers were donated to the Region IV Education Service Center.
The secondservice project, the Law Day Committee, was initiated in 1982. Currently no longer involved in this project, the Auxiliary received one local, one state, and six national awards for it's involvement. Law Day activities included elementary school patriotic programs; middle school assemblies; high school seminars; essay contests; legal education classes for libraries, senior citizen groups, and retirement centers; the hosting of a reception for a naturalization ceremony; and the distribution of Your Legal Rights.
The third project, the Leon Jaworski Award Program, was inaugurated in 1988 to publicly honor lawyers solely for their community service. Success in politics, the military, or professional organizations may contribute to a candidate's record, but they are of secondary importance in the selection. In April 1988, the Pat Foley sculpture "Family" was set in permanent display at the Harris County Family Law Center. Honorees are given a commemorative maquette of "Family". Recipients are Thomas D. Anderson, Tom Martin Davis, Herman P. Pressler, William C. Harvin, Gibson Gayle, Jr., Gail Whitcomb, Sam W. Davis, Jr., Wyatt H. Heard, Searcy Bracewell, Charles A. Saunders, Bruce La Boon, J. Kent Friedman, E. William Barnett, Daniel C. Arnold, Harry M. Reasoner, Neal Manne, Julius Glickman, Harry Gee, Sr., Charles Szalkowski, Jonathan Day, and Scott J. Atlas, Ewing Werlein, Jr., Lynne Liberato, Carol S. Vance, Kelly Frels, and Charles Foster. Nominations for the award are garnered throughout the Houston community.
The fourth service project distributes the booklet "Now You Are 18", produced by the Texas Lawyers Auxiliary. The goal is to present each Harris County High School Senior a copy. The project grew from distribution of 6,000 booklets in 1990-1991 to more than 35,500 copies to over 24 Harris County School Districts, private schools, and agencies in 2006-2007.
The fifth project is "Do the Write Thing" which is sponsored by the National Campaign to Stop Violence. This project was formed to assist the HBA with one of its service projects. Our committee provides volunteers to read and evaluate essays written by middle school students addressing the problems of drugs and violence in their lives. Last year 2000 essays were read by the committee.
The sixth project is to assist HBA's Habitat for Humanity House project. HBAA donated funds toward the building of the house, and the Auxiliary provided refreshments and hosted the dedication of the house again in 2010.
The Auxiliary adopted a name change in 1990 representing its diversified membership; today the organization is known as the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary. The American Lawyers Auxiliary presented the HBAA "The Auxiliary Excellence Award" for outstanding service to the community from 1999 thru 2007. Members are encouraged to participate in Auxiliary and HBA social functions and to volunteer for service on Auxiliary committees and certain HBA service committees. Primary goals continue to be education-focused: building awareness of our system of justice as well as esteem for the law and those who serve the law.